Five things Friday roundup: The wisdom of babes

Kids look at a map. Second graders Caia, Ayla, Asher and Felix trace Mary’s journey in the Peace Table Bible’s map of Israel in the time of Jesus, while Avi and Nadia look on. — Alisha Garber

Over the past year, I (Alisha) have had the pleasure of teaching the second grade Sunday school class at Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Ariz. Our plucky little class has grown so much in biblical literacy and relationships that I’m constantly amazed at how much they’ve learned — and how much they have taught me. Here are five things I’ve learned from my students this year.

1. Kids are smarter than we realize.

Like many Anabaptist churches, in the autumn we learn from the Old Testament and in the spring from the New Testament. It has been amazing to see the many, many ways the students connect the two Testaments with great ease. Even at ages 7 and 8, the kids can study each verse in context — reading directly from scripture. They know the books of the Bible, where to find them and in what genre of literature they are written. We discuss how Jesus fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament and explain how each book of the New Testament is about spreading the Good News. The most exciting part is discovering how we all fit in God’s story.

2. Kids can handle big ideas.

In looking all the way back to the prophecy of Isaiah, the students can see how a new kind of king was on the way — and that the prophecy was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. In class, they articulate how our contemporary lives are full of the kinds of kings that Jesus came to save us from. One student shared that he’d rather have a shepherd than a president — and I can’t help but agree.

3. Kids have the capacity to intuit context.

Last week we tackled the story of Lydia (Acts 16:11-15, 40). We learned that Paul and Silas encountered her at the river where she sold purple cloth and that she invited Paul and Silas back to “her big house,” where she heard about Jesus and became a Christian and then shared the gospel with her whole family. The students connected Lydia to our memory verse for the month: “It doesn’t matter how much you have. What matters is how much you are willing to give from what you have,” (2 Corinthians 8:12, CEV). Through discussion they remembered the widow in the temple (Mark 11:15-19; 12:38-44) and were excited that both women gave much from what they had. Lydia gave a lot, and the widow gave a little — but they both gave all they had. What a beautiful lesson in generosity from both ends of the economic spectrum.

4. Kids show up, in spite of adversity.

Even though their bodies are still little, the weight of what kids carry can be big. Each day when greeted at the door, a warm “Hi __________, I’m so glad you’re here!” relaxes kids into sheepish smiles. Whether they carry the difficulties of managing a multiethnic identity, feelings from their parents’ recent separation or the trauma of moving across the world and assimilating into a new culture, these kids show up. Like all Sunday school teachers know, the real prayer requests come from the earnest mouths of our littlest students — and I’m blessed to pray among them. 

5. Kids help me to know Jesus better.

In preparation for teaching over the past year, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of diving into a devotional reading that accompanies our Shine curriculum. Each Monday morning I pour myself a deep cup of coffee, email the parents about the learnings of the last class and crack open my teacher guide to review the lesson for the week ahead. I am always amazed at how the devotional reading and class preparation meet me exactly where I am in my faith journey (and bolsters my learning with the AMBS Journey Program). The more I teach my second graders about Jesus, the more I get to know him: what an invaluable gift! 

Alisha and Josh Garber

Alisha and Josh Garber are in a season of discernment. After over a decade of mission work in Europe, they Read More

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