Friday, May 27, 2011

Sunday mornings at church and my friend Gus.

Sunday mornings are difficult for me. In between two jobs I usually only get a couple of hours of sleep before heading off to church. Thankfully I teach a class of young men, 7th and 8th graders, whose energy and enthusiasm keep me awake. If I had to go to an adult class, I am sure I would be quickly asleep. This would be a distraction since I snore loudly.

On Sunday mornings we do not have Sunday school. Apparently attaching the word school to anything immediately makes what it is attached to dull. Old School is boring, one-room-schoolhouse is quaint, school of fish is all wet, and Sunday school is dry. Our youth pastor, who is an intelligent, industrious, imaginative, and innovative chap, has labeled our Sunday morning activities Sunday Small Groups (SSG). I think, “Great Gangs of Glamorous Guys and Girls that Give it up for God” has a much nicer ring and when shortened to G7 is even easier to spell than SSG.

One of the rules in my SSG class is that whatever important stuff is shared in the class stays in the class. If you continue reading, you will find some important stuff. I got the permission to share this stuff, provided I changed the young man’s name. So I did, he is now August Flopière BooKnee. If you say that with a French accent, it sounds very proud and has a certain appeal to it. In fact if you say it with most any accent it has a nice ring to it. August Flopière BooKnee. However, since it is a rather long name I will nickname him Gus.

The youth pastor starts the morning’s festivities with a rousing, yet thoughtful, examination of scripture. When he finishes, we break into our small classes and the teachers ask the students a bunch of questions. I ask these questions since I do not have all the answers, although I have been told I am supposed to be asking them to get the students to think.

A few weeks ago, at the beginning of class as is my custom, I asked the students how their weeks were.

“Ok, I mowed the lawn.”

“I watched the food channel.”

“I went on a covert mission for the CIA.” (Yes, I didn’t make that up, that was truly the comment made.)

“I had five baseball games, they were all cancelled.”

Gus added, “School, soccer, sleep, and eat.” Gus is a young man concerned with conservation; conserving energy, natural resources, and apparently words.

 After each scholar had a chance to share the activities of their week, we delved into the questions. I was so tired this particular morning, I could string words together to make a coherent sentence. I struggled with the topic of peer pressure. Trying to highlight that peer pressure could be a good thing, provided it pressured their friends to be better people. As I babbled along, and asked questions like, “Have any of you ever done something that you felt guilty about?” I noticed Gus’ expression change, subtly and after a few moments he reached behind him, into the deepest parts of the couch cushions and pulled out a Bible, which he handed to his neighbor. The neighbor exclaimed, “That’s where my Bible went!”

Two hours of sleep, stumbling through the lesson, and this distraction, my brain wasn’t working very well.  (Beloved would tell you it never does.)

So I inquired of Gus, “You took that from your neighbor?”


“You are giving it back because of the lesson?”

“Yep.” He replied again, looking sheepish, but still conserving words against a possible shortage.

I laughed, he laughed, the neighbor (who even though he was a little put out by the temporary loss of his Word) laughed. Eventually the entire class laughed.

When the laughter subsided, I looked at my notes for the next question and quickly realized no matter what I said or did, Gus had taught the class better with one simple act than I could have with a hundred of well thought out questions or a million well thought out statements. So, I said the one thing every student wants to hear.

“Class dismissed.”

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