Junior high boy Gary was my brother and he two friends, Rod and Rod. They were good boys….it’s just that they were. . .junior high boys. If you have ever been one, parented one, or taught one, you know what I mean.
My friend Leanne and I were brand new at teaching Sunday school. We had three goals as we planned to teach that class. 1) Just survive. 2) Create our own lessons. 3) Share the Good News of Jesus in ways that connected and invited the students into a faith journey.
But let’s go back even farther. I distinctly remember being in junior high, sitting in a certain room at Alexanderwohl Mennonite church, and simply refusing to behave myself while my teacher Judy Unruh did her best to invite me to learn about God and explore my faith journey. I guess it isn’t just junior high boys.
Brother Gary and the Rods are now 58 years old. Leanne is a retired school librarian. I am still writing faith formation curriculum. Judy is alive and well.
Last Sunday, Dawson Duerksen was baptized at Camp Mennoscah. The service included the sharing of faith stories from his grandmother Sharon Adrian and his dad Duane Duerksen. Three generations of believers gave testimony to the many people and places that have formed their faith—church, camps, teachers, youth leaders, family and friends.
When Dawson got dipped in the Ninnescah River, he was immersed in generations of faith formation. As his shirt proclaimed “Just Jesus,” his life gave witness to the fact that Jesus wasn’t there just at that moment, but in the moments of many people, times and places prior to that day, on that day, and from that day forward.
Just like Jesus was there in that upstairs Sunday school room full of energetic junior highers and two inexperienced teachers. “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” Matthew 18:20.
And when those who gather share the good news of Jesus in ways that connect and invite each other to grow in their faith journey, our hearts rejoice and the world is a little better place.