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Well, here goes nothing, I think as I look around the classroom.

I’ve decided to finally start getting plugged into the church I’ve been going to for the past year or so. I know that I get along a lot better with children than adults (children are much easier to talk to). And so (hopefully), getting involved with the kids ministry will help me settle better into this church. Children match my nature. I’ve always been childlike. I love games, I love building, I love learning, I love exploring. I love having fun.

My gaze sweeps the room. There is a Foosball table. Naw, never was much good at that, I think. There are some videogames. No way I’m touching those. One of the girls gets out some pink butcher paper for drawing. I’m an artist, but I tend to do my art on my own, not with others. Hmm… Then I see it: large wooden blocks. I join the elementary boys in building.

The boys give me some odd looks at first. “Are you going to sing us a song?” one of them asks (the high schoolers who run the classroom are also the ones on the worship team). I explain to them that I am new to their classroom, but I’m here to hang out with them. This seems to satisfy their curiosity. We make a magnificent structure, all intricate, laughing when parts of it fall over, joy shining in their eyes.

One of the things I miss in my adult life is playing. I miss creating, imagining, laughing wholeheartedly, having the time of my life, not caring what others think. I work with kids in the public school system, and have worked in a couple of daycares. But there… you have to censor what you say. You get in trouble if you say that marriage is between a man and a woman. You can’t really say much when the evolution question comes up.

There are problems with the overall dynamic of the classrooms as well. The vast majority of the kids in public school expect zero authority from you. They expect you to cater to them (after all, aren’t they all-important?). You get in trouble if you give a kid consequences after they have acted out (“punishment,” some call it. Such a thing is so unhealthy for a poor child! Laugh out loud).

But here in Sunday School, people will (hopefully) have their heads screwed on straight. But then again… you never know. Church culture has its own set of problems. We teach our kids that Evolution is Pure Evil. And yes, it is a lie. But, can you defend Creation? (Yes, there is plenty of scientific evidence out there that backs it.) Believe me, when you get out in the world, teachers and professors will attack your faith (been there, done that). You need to KNOW what you believe and WHY you believe it.

“Christianity” has its own set of problems. I’m not talking about the Bible. The Bible is Truth and the God-breathed Word of God. I’m talking about humans–fallen, sinful humans. I’m talking of the hypocrites in the church. I’m talking of those who talk the talk, but don’t live out what they profess to believe. I am talking about the people who put on masks of “I have a perfect life,” when they are really hurting and broken inside, and unwilling (for the sake of their self-image and pride) to be authentic and honest with people. I am talking of human traditions that have strayed from the Word of God. I am talking of cliques who exclude people. I am talking of faiths that will not stand once the children get outside of the church setting of their childhood. Churches are fraught with such things.

Oh yes, there are plenty of issues with churches.

But I am here to talk about the good. I feel the hope and love of Jesus when I pull up a chair during worship, and one of my little block-builder buddies hauls over a chair nearly as big as he is, to sit down next to me. I am talking of a little girl, probably a first grader, weaving her way over to me and then up into my lap. She takes my sweater-sleeve arms in her small hands and wraps them around her waist, then glances up at me and asks why my hair has white in it. “I dyed it–” I begin to say, then pause. Kid-size words, I remind myself. “I colored it.” She nods, satisfied. And I smile.

Worship begins, followed by a Christmas video. My little friend takes my wrists in her tiny hands and puts my hands over her eyes. I smile mischievously to myself and open my hands as if playing peek-a-boo. “Stop that!” she cheerfully commands me, closing my hands over her eyes again. Amused, I obey her ever-so-briefly before throwing my hands wide open like twin doors once again. She sighs in exasperation, enjoying the game as much as I do.

After such a difficult work week, this little girl has thrown wide the the doors to my heart. And I think, this must be how Jesus felt when he welcomed the little ones to Him. This is His heart, and I am at peace here. This is Home–a little bit of heaven.

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