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Okay. Maybe there is something wrong with me, but that picture above cracked me up. I howled with laughter. Funniest thing I've seen for a while. Some people will find it sacrilegious. I'm very aware that my mindset is quite different from the mindset of a lot of Christians. I've been doing a lot of thinking about my church. I'm fully aware that my pastor would like me to be quieter. I'm fully aware that as a Sunday school teacher, I'm awfully laid back. I don't believe in raising hands. I tell them that they are in middle school now, and that they are becoming adults. They are old enough to discuss things with one another without raising their hands. I do not teach the class so much as they teach each other. We read our lesson and then beat it to death with discussion. They are just getting the hang of discussion. Last year they did not talk in class. They listened to their teacher and did a craft. I'm also aware, despite my atheist roots, and the fact that when I finally did begin to attend church, I was a heathen Episcopalian (joking, people, I'm just joking), the congreation at my church loves me, and they made this known to Tim and me in these last few months. It is a humbling thing to be on the receiving end of this outpouring, and I have learned a lot about love from my people. I love my church and I love the people there. In return, they love my joy.
Have you all heard about 2012? It is reported to be the year that the world will end, according to the Mayan calendar. Nostradamus has also predicted the end of the world in 2012. I've heard that some of the televangelists are jumping on the bandwagon. The buzz appears to be getting louder. People are convinced that the world will end in 2012. In churches, on TV, on college campuses. When I went to Philly to see Dixie, we talked about it over wine. Dixie was shocked. Apparently this news has not been disseminated within the heathen Episcopal church yet. Dixie and Bob are two of the smartest people that I know, so I was trying to explain how I can love the people of my church so much even as I struggle with this feeling that I do not 'fit' there.
A couple weeks ago, a elderly woman in our church got up to tell us that something big was going to happen in 2012. She talked about great spiritual leaders predicting the end of the world. She spoke on the prophesies of the Book of Revelations. She cautioned us all to get right with God before the world ended, and she specifically targeted parents to make sure that their children were being raised in a Godly home, so that they would not be lost. It was quite a stirring sermon, and I'm sure that she earnestly meant to do God's business that day. I listened, and I cringed a little. I am a Sunday School teacher after all and I knew, for a fact, that she had just scared the bejeebers out of every child in that church.
Sure enough, the following week, the lesson was on Jesus calming the storm. The first question from our book was "What are you afraid of?" Eyes grew wide and the answer came. 2012 scared the mess out of every one of them. I'm kind of direct, so we hit it head on, from my point of view. I thought of my friend Peryl, who had died, and of the mother who lost her daughter, and of my own dealings with cancer. I explained to them that every single day the world ended, for people we knew, for people we didn't. God put us here in this time, in this place for a reason, and that as far as I was concerned our top priority should be living the life that He intended. Is the world coming to an end in 2012? No. I don't think so because Jesus himself said that no one knows when this will happen. Ergo, if everyone is convinced it is going to happen in 2012, it seems unlikely that it would happen then since the element of surprise would be lost. In any case, it seems to me that the end of the world falls completely in the realm of 'God's business'. I'm a big believer in letting God handle His business. Hopefully, in the end, He'll be happy with the way I'm handling mine, my business being my life, my own life. Not the life of others. My own life. The end.
I've been kind of wrestling with this issue, and was curious about how other teachers were handling the topic in the classroom. I was advised not to discuss it. I'm watching to see how this unfolds, but I have to tell you, the most often repeated phrase in the New Testament is 'Fear not'. I think that a church full of fearful children would grieve God something awful. I can't be a part of that. I won't be. Anyone else out there dealing with this?