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August 19, 2018 – Christian Education Sunday (Annual conference determines date.)


"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'" —John 6:35, NRSV

What are your favorite childhood memories of church? Wearing your "Sunday best" and going with your family to Sunday school and worship? Learning about Jesus? Memorizing John 3:16 and Psalm 23? Putting coins in a church-shaped bank on your birthday? Practicing for the Christmas program and hoping (or not!) to be chosen to play Mary or Joseph?

One of my favorites was filling my vacation Bible school box—a discarded shoebox—with crayons, scissors, No. 2 pencils and glue and joining my friends for a morning of fun and Bible stories. Games on the parish house lawn instilled valuable lessons about playing fair and winning and losing graciously.

But church camp was my all-time favorite. I attended five years straight, then worked as a counselor. Settling in a rustic cabin, swimming in a beautiful lake, learning about Esther and other Bible women, creating treasures during crafts time, eating and singing in the dining hall and giggling with my new buddies at "lights out" made lasting memories.

Every year, congregations across the United Methodist connection celebrate Christian Education Sunday. This observance "calls the Church as the people of God to be open to growth and learning as disciples of Jesus Christ" (The Book of Discipline 2016, Par. 265.1). Often, churches share a special offering to support Christian education.

Christian Education Sunday is the perfect time to honor the many people who model God's love every day. Thank you!

Loving God, thank you for the people who, by word and example, teach us what it means to be Christ followers. Inspire us to share your love with our sisters and brothers everywhere. Amen.

From Discipleship Resources – Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide, Generous and loving God, you give and give to us and hold nothing back. In response, we often give meekly, worrying whether we will have enough to meet our needs and wants and falling short in our ability to trust in you. Help us to live more wisely and to give more freely, fully aware of your providence and trustworthiness and more in tune with your desires for our lives. In Christ, we pray. Amen. (Ephesians 5:15-20)

A favorite aunt asked that the congregation sing "Tell Me the Stories of Jesus" at her funeral. It seemed an unusual request but a logical choice. A retired United Methodist preschool teacher, she recognized the importance of Christian education. She spent much of her life telling—and modeling—the stories of Jesus.

Jesus told many stories, often in the form of parables that conveyed spiritual truths. He used narratives of familiar experiences to make a point. The parables of the lost sheep and the good Samaritan, for example, were meant to be more than simple stories.

In The United Methodist Church, we celebrate Christian Education Sunday. On this special day, we recall the people who helped with our spiritual formation—Sunday school teachers, pastors who led confirmation classes and church camp counselors. We remember also the people who taught by example—parents, Scout leaders, coaches and many others.

Most important, we commit ourselves anew to telling the stories of Jesus in word and action.

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