Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
One of the things that bother me during this time of physical distancing is the fact that I cannot hold Bible studies and teach Confirmation classes. Especially, giving up the time with our Confirmands makes me sad. First off, I really like the kids and enjoy being in their presence. They help me understand some of the ‘woke’ words I otherwise would not know how to spell and they keep me on my toes in many other regards.
I also dislike the fact that we cannot sit down together and plow our way through all sorts of more or less difficult to understand subjects. But, what I don’t miss is the occasional frustration when it appears that my style of teaching or the students’ attention get in the way of learning. Why is it that teenagers can remember four long verses of the latest hit song but not two short lines from the Catechism? I only pray that they somehow ‘get it in their hearts’.
By the way, I never assumed now or ever that confirmands deliberately do not want to retain knowledge! When my granddaughter was rather young, she had a very difficult time distinguishing the numbers 6, 8 and 9. A great lover of the card game “Go Fish” she and I went around and around. I used all of my pedagogical acumen as well as every trick in my grandmotherly handbook, to get her to recognize the individual numbers – to no avail. We would stop just before tears would well up in her eyes. Victoria wanted to learn and know these numbers! She told me that kids in her preschool class were proficient at recognizing them – and she wanted to beat me at the card game.
Finally, one day, probably just to say something, I said: “Victoria, whenever you get these numbers right, Oma will give you a hug and a kiss, okay?” Sure, Victoria was all in. But, before she picked up the next card she looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and said: “Oma, if I get it wrong, do I still get a hug and a kiss?” Choking back my own tears, I gave her a hug and a kiss and assured her that she always would get hugs and kisses even if she never learned those numbers (she did learn them J).
There are countless things I do not know, don’t remember, never understood or deemed too unimportant to commit to my feeble brain. Sometimes my brain feels so overloaded that I can’t distinguish one thing from the other. More often than not I get terribly upset with myself for drawing a blank and having to go back to a book or the internet to refresh my mind. And, just like Victoria, I do care and want to know what is in front of me. Yet, sometimes I simply fail no matter how hard I try.
As we are closing in on the holiest of weeks in the life of the Christian church, we often ‘don’t get it’. We have 2000 years of teaching, preaching, witnessing and living under our collective belt and we still stand there and are saying: “What was that? How did we get from Palm Sunday to Easter morning?” And even if we ‘get’ the events per say, sometimes we don’t grasp what God is doing for us with the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Doubts and confusion easily reign. We look at the faith taught and lived and we look at the science taught and explained and we wonder how God can still be the God who holds all things in His hands, guiding and protecting, loving and forgiving without us being involved and at the table of decision making. Is it true? What if it is not? What if our minds are as confused as little Victoria was with the numbers 6, 8 and 9? My guess is this: God still gives us hugs and kisses. From the cross and from the empty tomb even if we still get it wrong. God is just that kind of a God. Amen
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-7