Sept. 19—17th Sunday after Pentecost—Christian Education Sunday (undated Annual Conference may take special offering)

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

A Moment for Mission

“Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me isn’t actually welcoming me but rather the one who sent me.” —Mark 9:37, CEB

During the 2019–20 school year, a favorite Sunday evening activity for children and their families in Carbondale, Illinois, was MaTT (Meet me at The Table) Club. Twice a month, kindergartners through fifth graders gathered at Grace United Methodist Church to have fun together, hear about God’s love and enjoy a mission lesson. Then COVID-19 hit.

Six months later, MaTT Club leader Flossie Langin welcomed the children back, using a different format: “Zooming with Jesus.”

“Our dual focus,” Langin said, “is friendship (Jesus is my best friend) and the Bible—my book of faith. Along with their annual Binder Book, the children began filling a BOBBY (Books of the Bible Binder for You) book.” Participants learned that the Bible contains many kinds of stories. Each child “virtually” drew a name for their prayer partner.

The next month, the children were taught how to look up Scripture using three key references: book, chapter and verse. “We started learning the books of the Bible,” Langin said, “making up an acronym to help them. We also learned a motion for each book. We discussed that God has rules for God’s people, just as our families have rules that keep each family member safe and happy.” After listing some family rules, the children completed a page for their Binder Books.

On Christian Education Sunday, we celebrate ministries like MaTT Club and the many other ways United Methodists share Jesus’ love with people of all ages.

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, remind us often to welcome children. Teach us new ways to reach out in ministry with them. Thank you for Christian education opportunities. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Resources: Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost – Gracious God, grant us the grace to be extravagant in the gifts we give to you. Help us be wise and just in how we live with the resources we keep. Guide us in the way to lives that bear the fruit that is pleasing to you: lives full of mercy and compassion. Free us from envy and selfish ambition that leads us away from you, that we might draw near to you. We pray in the love and hope that is Jesus, our Savior. Amen. (James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a)         

Newsletter Nugget
As 2021 approached, United Methodists anticipated more months of remote worship and Christian education.

Flossie Langin, of Grace United Methodist Church, Carbondale, Illinois, leads MaTT Club for elementary-age children. “As with many others,” she said, “we are adjusting to ‘the new normal.’ But God is with us all the way.”

The Rev. Christine Christopher Kumar and the Rev. Melissa Hinnen agreed.

“We have online Sunday school for prekindergarten to fifth grade on Monday and Tuesday nights,” Kumar of Towson UMC, Baltimore, Maryland, reported. “We also have youth games, Bible study, cooking class and book discussions via Zoom and meet outside when we can with masks and social distancing.”

Zoom was also the medium of choice for Hinnen of Park Slope UMC, Brooklyn, New York. The congregation relied on the technology for Bible, Lenten and book studies and other small groups. “We use the breakout rooms for children’s Sunday school,” Hinnen said.

On Christian Education Sunday, we celebrate life-changing ministries that continue, even in challenging times.

Adapted from newsletter, Grace United Methodist Church, Carbondale, Illinois, October and November 2020, and other sources