I hope you are well in the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Recently, at our church, where I serve as Senior Minister, the preacher on the day suggested in his sermon on Colossians 1:1-14 that we should be full of thankfulness for those who taught us the gospel of Jesus, like Epaphras had done for the Colossians:
You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf (Col 1:7 NIV)
Thankfulness is a big theme in Colossians, and I am thankful!
In my case, I understood God’s grace in all its truth from my Sunday School teachers – firstly at St James’ from pre-school till about Year 4 at school, and then at Castle Cove, from Year 5 onwards.
Of course, I’m incredibly thankful to God for my parents who took me to church (or still sent me on those occasions they slept in – let’s hope they’re not reading too closely!) But they weren’t especially well equipped back then to talk lots about God, beyond saying grace at dinner and perhaps the simpler childhood prayers.
So I learned the gospel from my childhood Sunday School teachers. I don’t recall any lesson in particular, but I can still picture (dimly!) the classrooms and I know they cared for me. And I know it was from that young age I realised I needed Jesus on my side as my Friend and Saviour and then Lord.
(And I also remember the songs. “God said to Noah, there’s going to be a floody, floody…”, “If I were a butterfly…” This was BC – the “before Colin” era! I was a very silly boy, mucking up songs like “I cannot come to the banquet, don’t trouble me now, I have married a cow and bought me a wife” and not getting into too much trouble.)
We were always learning the meaning of stories from the Bible, and I cannot remember having much to ‘un-learn’ later on from any grossly moralistic or misleading early approaches either.
And so I thank God for my Sunday School teachers like Mrs Fowler and Mrs Boudekain (spelling uncertain, but name remembered!) and Mr and Mrs Larsen, and others whose names I’ve now forgotten. Some of them have now died without ever perhaps knowing how much they did for me. As Paul said of Epaphras, they were “faithful ministers of Christ”!
And then there’s Pete Miller who was not only my senior Sunday School teacher but also the youth fellowship leader (concurrently for a fair while, one on Sunday morning, one at night!) who – along with other great leaders – modelled 1 Thessalonians 2:8 to me:
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. (NIV)
But praising youth leaders is a story for another day.
Anyway, I’ve written to some of them this week, inspired by that sermon on Colossians 1. Maybe if you’ve been blessed by your Sunday School teachers, you might like to do the same.