or did he do good "in a boat"?.
I included the above scan of two antique Sunday School cards in my new Perry Family web site this week. The cards, and several others, were left to me by my Great Aunt Lizzie Perry. She received the cards at Sunday School in 1858 when she was six years of age, so they are prized possessions.
A couple of years ago I used the cards as the subject of a Children's Story presentation during a church service that I was conducting. Truth be known, I have always had reservations about Children's Story time as part of an adult worship service....Nine times out of 10 the minister's best efforts go right over the children's heads, so why bore the kids any more than necessary and let them escape to their Sunday School classes where teachers have lessons and exercises prepared for them.
Anyway, I thought the first two verses of the "Mother Telling Sunday Stories" card on the right might just grab the children's attention on this particular Sunday because it speaks of a time that was so different from today.
God made the day of rest
The holy Sabbath day,
For us to think and talk of Him,
And not for work or play.
I'll put away my toys
Safely the night before,
And Sundays I'll be very still,
Till Monday comes once more...
I drew a parallel for the kids, explaining that "the Sabbath" as a day of rest was no doubt the way it was for their grandparents when they grew up but that things have changed today. Rules about our activities on Sundays have been relaxed considerably, perhaps to a point where there are no rules. I stressed, however, that one thing that has not changed is that "we come to Sunday School to learn about the Bible and how we might copy the good things that Jesus did for the world."
I left my spell-bound (?) young listeners with a little story about my four-year-old cousin Curtis and his first exposure to Sunday School. Naturally, it was a completely new world for Curtis and he tried very hard to listen to everything the teacher said.
When Sunday School was over his anxious mother Norma was waiting outside for him. "What did you learn in Sunday School? she asked. "Oh, about Jesus in a boat," was young Curt's surprise answer.
"Jesus in a boat? Are you sure? his mother questioned further. "Yeah," he said, handing his Sunday School card of the day over to his mom. "See, Jesus in a boat doing good."
Curtis couldn't read of course and it sure sounded to him like the teacher said "Jesus in a boat..." His mother waited until they got home to explain that the teacher had actually said: "Jesus went about doing good," just as it said on the card and in the Bible..
I reasoned to the sober, wide-eyed faces starring up at me that it really did not matter if Jesus "went about" or if he was "in a boat". The message was the thing..."doing good!" After all Jesus walked on water and he instructed the fishermen to re-cast their nets, so why wouldn't he minister from a boat?
In retrospect, I kind of like Curtis' interpretation better.
My concluding prayer with the children went something like this:
"Thank you Lord for loving us and giving us Jesus.
Thank you also for giving us Sunday School.
Bless our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles
who look after us and make us feel safe.
We pray in the name of Jesus who 'went in a boat doing good'. Amen."