This week at church I taught kids entering 1st and 2nd grade. The story was about Jonah and the city of Ninevah. We ate fruit snacks — Finding Nemo fruit snacks. (Notice the fish theme.) I was interested in the way the children ate their snacks. Every child opened the package and first spread all the fruit snacks out on the table. They sorted them by color or by shape and reported their finds to each other. The high school helper in the room told me that she also sorts out fruit snacks. In her case she sorts them by color and then eats them until she has one of each color left. Then she eats the remaining ones one at a time, saving her favorite color for last. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, eats them in pairs so if there is an odd number of snacks in the package he has to eat the odd one first, then he eats the rest two at a time. She told that this ritual is also important when eating M&M’s, Skittles, or anything else with a variety of colors.
We all have rituals in our life. My husband always eats the meat on his plate first and then potatoes and then vegetables. When I lock the car, I always push the car fob button twice so I hear the car horn signal that the car is really locked. We have rituals in place to help us make sense of our world. We like them.
Rituals are kid-friendly too. We sometimes like to change things up in worship or in church school because we often crave new things but it is good for us to remember that rituals are not just boring routine — they are things that often make us feel at home in the things we do. One of the rituals in our worship service that I especially have learned to treasure is the passing of the peace. After we confess our sins and hear of God’s assurance we take a few moments to turn to those around us, shake their hands and say “the peace of Christ be with you.” By participating in this ritual every week I have grown to treasure this opportunity to connect in a special way with my brothers and sisters in Christ in my congregation.
As I look for “the next new thing” in Sunday School I am going to remember that sometimes the things that we do all the time are not just boring repetition but can also become an important ritual. What are the rituals in your Sunday School program?