Signs of spring are all around us at HTLC this week. Attendance certificates are being handed out, Luther Bucks are cashed in and by the looks of things, we could rename this “Silly Band Sunday.” It’s the end of the Sunday School for the year! From ages 3 to 103, Holy Trinity provides educational opportunities to learners. Many of us have been receiving graduation invitations and look forward to seeing learners of all ages in cap and gown, celebrating the commencement of Preschool, High School, College or Grad School. But you never really see Christians in Church doning a cap and gown on the last day of Sunday School. There is no “ending” to our spiritual education, even if we take a break over the summer. We never stop learning about the love of Jesus—at 3, simple songs, like Jesus loves me are like spiritual milk for the soul. Adults can dig into scripture in their small groups or learn how our Christian faith impacts our culture during adult forum conversations. Young in years, or young at heart, we learn, we taste and see that the Lord is good! As we build our relationship with God, we are comforted and challenged. Comforted, knowing we are forgiven children of God, precious in His sight. Challenged, to be living stones that build a spiritual house and spread our Lord’s message beyond these walls.
So, in this season of learning and celebrating the end of learning seasons, our reading from 1 Peter is especially appropriate. This passage tells us, in a nutshell, what Christian community life and learning are all about. Why we affiliate with a particular church, why we become “members” or attend Sunday School, or any other learning activity through Church. We learn and we provide learning opportunities for children, because we want to get to know Christ, our cornerstone on a deeper level. Learning about our God gives us a clear identity. 1 Peter says, “once you were not a people, now you are God’s people.” “Once you had not received mercy, and now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2, gives us some insight into what it means to deepen our relationship with God, to be a part of God’s house. From New Testament times, Christian communities have been described as “spiritual homes” and that being part of God’s family is to belong to something greater than ourselves. As we hear scripture read during worship and Sunday School, we learn and are assured that the Spirit of God is working through us collectively, that we are able to spread God’s message together better than we could alone. Being part of God’s house, sharing our collective gifts and learnings, as shown to us in 1 Peter, tells us that we receive spiritual nourishment. We worship together, hearing the Word of God read, sung and prayed. We commune together, so we may be sent out to be a light to this often dark world, teaching others of God’s promise and love. We receive nourishment, so we may nourish each other and nourish ourselves throughout the week by reading scripture, doing God’s work in the world, and forgiving others.
The learning doesn’t stop there. 1 Peter also tells us a cornerstone has been laid through Christ. We learn that to our Lord, we are chosen, precious. Christian community means we have a solid foundation on which to stand. We live in a world that is constantly changing, shifting, we don’t know who to trust, where to stand and what may fall next. Christ gives us the assurance that we have a solid place to stand, that we won’t be alone, that He will not be moved. This is a message that we need to learn and relearn from childhood on. That we have a solid foundation in Christ.
We learn from 1 Peter, and our encounters in Sunday School that the Church is about proclaimation, sharing the Word of God with those beyond our walls. It’s not all about us as individuals. We are to recognize that the message Christ has for us, for the world, is so powerful, so life changing that we must share it with others. There is no doubt that our hurting world needs God’s message of love. We share this message so others may also receive nourishment, grounding and a solid place to stand.
We also learn in Sunday School and through our experiences of worship that we are enough. Everyone can name a subject in school that was a struggle for them. We cringed as we open the report card and peered nervously down until we got to that particular class. But, there is a beauty in Sunday School, and in Christian learning—we never get a grade! No one has to repeat a class in Sunday School or flunks 2nd grade Bible. Instead, we know that we are enough as we are. That God will continue to be our foundation and cornerstone, working with and through us and providing us with the spiritual milk we need at every moment in our lives.
So, while we close our another year of Sunday School learning and education, know that our Christian education never really takes a break. We are always surrounded by our loving Lord, who is teaching us what we need to know, growing our faith, and sending us out to share His Word.