Monday, July 22, 2013

One Ending Begins Another Journey

Yesterday was the end of our pastor's summer series "A Journey of Faith". This has been a good series, designed as loosely connected stories as befit summertime when so many people are in and out, sometimes on vacation, sometimes playing hooky. Our Life Group has studied the same material to go along with the sermons.

Except, sometimes the teaching/study materials didn't match the sermon. The materials were taken from various published Bible studies, and if no published study was found that matched the sermon topic/scripture, we were given something close to it. That made for some interesting preparation to teach, as my co-teacher and I had to answer the question: Do we teach from the study materials provided to the teachers, or do we use that material for background and slide over to the real topic of the sermon?

I'm teaching several weeks in a row right now as my co-teacher is recovering after knee surgery. He managed to hobble into class yesterday with the aid of a walker, but I'll teach every week until he's much more mended. The sermon was on the faith journey of the two disciples who encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The study materials provided were on all the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, except that the Emmaus Road experience was barely mentioned. So what to do? Teach the lesson from the materials provided, or teach a lesson somewhat related based on the sermon? It doesn't help, of course, that the sermon isn't given until right before our Life Group lesson.

The materials provided were a good study, with lots of probing questions and applications for life. But it wasn't what the pastor was preaching about. I decided to teach related to the sermon, and draw out from the materials provided as much as I could.

The class was fairly full, as some who had been away were back, as were some who were sick or had work commitments on previous weeks. I taught without notes, having decided in my mind what and how I would teach. Well, I did have some notes, as a copy of the semi-related, published study was provided in our attendance folder. Using that to see some of the questions, I jumped out. We read from Luke Chapter 24, in four segments. First was the condition of the disciples as they plodded along, having heard about the empty tomb and the testimony of the women who saw the risen Christ, but not really believing it. Then we read how Jesus taught them as they walked. Then we read the part where their eyes were opened and they recognized it was Jesus. At last we read how the disciples rushed back to Jerusalem, seven miles distant, where they learned that the other knew that Jesus was indeed alive, and where they gave their testimony.

The class was awesome! Everyone participated, as we broke down the story and considered time and distance, appearance and the blindness that grief can bring. We talked about how at each of his post-resurrection appearances, Jesus had to do something a little different to cause the skeptical to believe. He spoke Mary's name. He broke the bread. He ate some fish. He let Thomas touch his wounds. To some 500 believers he probably preached.

In the same way Jesus speaks to us today in different ways. He almost never speaks to me directly, but rather directs my decision-making process in ways I can't see, in response to prayer. People have told me that that means God hasn't spoken to me. They believe that the only way God can speak is the way He spoke to them. I reject that. I suspect God has around 7 billion ways of speaking to people and directing their steps. We are each unique in that regard, and I thank God for that.

1 comment:

vero said...

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the church education process.

I miss teaching Sunday school.