Thursday, February 21, 2013

In my experience, child care at ladies' daytime Bible study can be touch and go. Over the several years my children utilized it, I told myself that I would continue to be committed to the service even after mine had outgrown it. With that in mind last year, my first year of school day childlessness, I served as a "Love Lady," what they call a nursery volunteer. It wasn't a good experience because I found myself critical of the first-year teacher for her lack of organization and insincere, sing-song voice.

Since they say that being a Love Lady is completely voluntary, I did not sign up this year. Why not? I remember so many women over the years whose children were long grown having no commitment to Bible study child care. Why should I be different? Just because I said I would? But the fact that I hadn't served and didn't plan on serving did not go unnoticed and when a cancellation occurred, I got a call the night before. Was I a last resort?

An hour earlier than the regular time, I joined the Leaders' Team meeting to review the homework questions. The former Teaching Director was in town for a visit and led the discussion. My Core Group leader was seated next to me and I could see that her tendency to work her iPhone chronically was not limited to our regular group's time. I've been on the verge of saying something about her distractibility and I am now somewhat assured that if I do go to her superiors, they'll have a solid idea of what I'm talking about.

In the Leaders' Team meeting, I hoped I'd have something really insightful to say but nothing came to mind. In these circles, silence is often taken for wisdom, too often. In addition to my workbook, I had my little old commentary of Daniel, paired with Ezekiel. Simply flipping through the pages reveals which of the two I've studied and studied over again. The pages of the first half are nearly pristine except the twenty year age of the booklet shows. My Core Group leader asked which translation I had and I said, "New American" which can usually be understood as "New American Standard."

After the Leaders' Team meeting, I was placed with the homeschooled students, five children aged 6 - 10. The ten year old arrived late and was outspoken, confident and much too old for the others. I was to sit with the kindergartener who could not read. We looked at Jesus' feeding of the 5,000 in all four accounts, looking for differences. Not in a critical way, however. Unlike other parallels, this story doesn't have contradictions, only additional details, like the name of the city, the name of the lake, that a boy brought the food. I was impressed with how the children found these four passages in their Bibles. My charge even knew that there was food left over! The vocabulary of the story was simple; the teacher defined only "solitary" and "remote" for them. The approach of looking at the story across the Gospels reminded me of the work we do on Thursday nights. Protestant children and Catholic adults doing the same Bible study work. I thought a synopsis would be handy.

Sure, the kids became bored after working through the first account. They probably wondered why bother with the other accounts which say basically the same thing. But even though they shifted in their seats, asked for snack time and got up for a glass of water, they were very attentive. I could not imagine my children sitting through such an exercise. And I was torn between wanted my kids to know Bible stories and being concerned about overly dealing in generalizations and gross simplifications.

During snack, the kids mentioned some things they're learning at home. One of the eight-year-olds said he was learning about the Middle Ages. The teacher swooned, "Oh, I love the Middle Ages!" I was curious to know what she knew about the Middle Ages. Or thought she knew. I didn't have to ask, she offered. She said she'd taken a class on the Middle Ages recently and she learned that it was a really dark time.
"Where was the church during the Middle Ages?"
In chorus, "Underground!"
"That's right!"
I almost threw up. She said that the only good thing the Church of that time did was that monks preserved the Scriptures in monasteries. I said translations of the Scriptures were made as well, and she asserted that the Bible wasn't translated into English until King James' edition. I told her about the Lindisfarne Gospels in the 10th century. I told her about Sts. Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century translating the Bible into a Slavic language. She didn't seem to understand why these points were important.

The oldest boy, who spoke about having a ministry to neighborhood boys, asked our prayers for his dilemma: his basketball schedule conflicted with church attendance on Sundays and Wednesdays (Awana). I asked him casually when his sports season ended, but the teacher was livid that he had to get to church at least weekly. He said his parents insisted on his commitment to athletics but his goal was to get to church twice every three weeks. When the boy's mother arrived to pick him up, the teacher took her aside to encourage her to take the boy to church. Once again, I found myself arguing the Protestant's position more consistently than the Protestant. I bet she would be the first to tell you that "a church is just a building, you don't have to be at church in order to pray or worship God."

I found the children less perplexing than the women in my Core Group.


Richard Maffeo said...

Oy! No wonder the Church is in such an anemic position. But it is not only children who know little to nothing about Church history. I have a BA and MA in Bible and Bible languages, but until I became a Catholic, I knew NOTHING of Church history before the Reformation. In fact, I remember hearing the Church was in the "Dark Ages's" until Luther came along.

And so we wonder why Satan can get so much done when the Church remains either ignorant of its roots and nurture, or it just in unconcerned.

I remember Jesus said something about, "the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things enter in and choke the word until it becomes unfruitful."

But, what do I know?

Moonshadow said...

I considered it progress to acknowledge the Church preserved the Scriptures.