17 July 2006

The Prayer for Imagination

August 13 is creeping up on me; it is the day our children and preschoolers will promote to their new classes. It is also the first day our new teachers will teach their classes. Each day I am in the office, I realize how much closer that day is than it was the day before. I shared with the Missions Prayer group today that my vision for Sunday school is broad, and it is clear. However, I am having difficulty discerning the threads that create that tapestry. My desire to have an excellent education program – particularly for our children – is rooted in the fact that so many invested of themselves into me. When I look back over my life, my prominent memories happened at church. The songs that still run through my head on a weekly basis were memory songs from Children’s church. I learned to give my offering and to read my Bible because those people made it fun. Twenty-something years later I wonder if our Minister of Education faced the same issues I face today.
My spreadsheet has more open than filled slots in our Preschool and Children’s programs for August. I am glad that our current teachers are taking the time to learn for themselves; this is what makes quality teachers! Without an opportunity to learn, what would they have to offer? But I wonder whose names are on the threads of our tapestry and why they have not yet stepped forward. What can I do to encourage them to participate? Who do I need to ask? Perhaps I should make a list? With each question my anxiety begins to rise.
Lest you think this article is an effort at “teacher arm-twisting,” hear me out. I am learning through all of this about prayer. In my commitment to pray for the Klintsy team and for other significant events in the life of Immanuel, I have completely neglected to pray over individual teachers and classes. I have offered to God my own anxieties, but not the programs, not the teachers, and certainly not the timing! I want this done on my time and in my way, and it is hard for me to recognize that God works in ways I cannot always understand.
The Reflecting section in the bulletin from July 9th spoke of participating in God’s imagination. Barbara Brown Taylor is a preaching specialist and the excerpt is from one of her sermons. To hear her preach is always to find yourself in her stories. So when she asks me to participate in God’s imagination, I realize that precisely what I have NOT done is to allow God to be imaginative within my system. Perhaps so many teachers have needed a sabbatical because someone (Is it you?) has been afraid to step in to waters they have never tested. Perhaps so few have come forward because one I would have never expected is praying about where to serve (I hope this is where each of us begins!). Maybe God has something in mind I cannot even fathom right now. Maybe God is prepared to work through “the least of these” to teach those who will be their teachers. And maybe God is working on me to prepare for the years to come. The part we can imagine is sometimes the most real part of the truth.
In the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, “What is real to us? What is true, and what do we intend to do about it?” As you pray this week, allow the imagination of God to dwell within you. And as you pray for your church, I would ask you to pray for our Children’s Ministry. God is working among us to transform boys and girls into women and men of God. They will be our teachers someday, and my prayer is that they will have had the quality models of loving leadership that have brought me to this place. If they are half as fortunate as I have been, they will be richly blessed. Peace, Erin

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