In which we are possibly the Worst Sunday School Teachers in the World.

On Sunday, Mike and I had planned to have our Sunday School kids make some Christmas cards/decorations for a church member and good friend of ours with brain cancer. I meant to mention him in Friday night’s post – between my grandma being in the hospital and our friend being in Hospice, things have indeed seemed messy and sad. Mike went to visit him on Saturday and noticed that there was a distinct lack of Christmas cheer in the room and thought our kids could help with that, even if our friend didn’t have much time left. We were careful to tell them not to say things like, “Get well soon!” but to stick to, “We are praying for you.” After the kids started and they were cutting out trees and making decorations, someone came by and asked if we’d heard that our friend had actually passed away that morning. No, we had not heard. The news had not yet made the rounds.

I am not sure whether this makes us the worst Sunday School teachers ever, but it must be pretty close, right? We had them making cards for someone who had already passed away. Great job, Mike and Kari.

(Not to mention, we were going to have them watch a little movie and had brought the laptop and projector but then realized we couldn’t do that because there was no three-prong outlet anywhere nearby – there’s only one outlet in the room, but we knew that. And we couldn’t find any extension cords long enough to reach our room. It was Sunday School Fail, is what I am saying.)

It was one of those moments where you have to decide what the right thing is: Do we talk to those kids about death or do we let them find out in big church, which might confuse them, because weren’t we just making cards for him? So we told them, and we told them we’d give the cards to his family, and we answered their questions about death and cancer as honestly as we could. And then we gave them some word searches. Hopefully we redeemed ourselves a little bit by trying to be authentic.

Our friend was very sick, and of course we are glad he is no longer suffering, but we are going to miss him. He has been really special to our family, especially to Mike, over the past few years. This is one of those questions that I simply do not understand, why the people who mean so much to us are taken away and the people who have opted out of our lives continue to happily prosper. I know that it’s not a particularly original question. Maybe some people think that the Christmas season is the wrong time to ask those questions, that I should instead focus on joy and goodwill and peace. But I take comfort in the fact that Jesus, who was both fully human and fully divine, saw and understood these questions when he was here, and that I can take this sorrow and anger to the God who dwelt among us, who wept at his own friend’s grave, and who conquered death once and for all.

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