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Back in the days of the Fifties, I was dropped off each week at Sunday School at St. James Lutheran. I got gold stars for attendance from the time I was five, a serious, honest little girl with way more innocence and naiveté than kids today. This may be because the media hadn’t yet gone ballistic and the celebrity culture didn’t yet rule the world. For these things, I am deeply grateful. No one should have to cope with the Khardashians, at any age.

However, Sunday School was not for the squeamish. The good Lutherans were all about the Bible and Bible stories were Sunday School. No one was interested in our self-esteem (at least directly) or what was on our little minds. We were there to learn about the Bible and Jesus, period.

We learned a lot via the filmstrip, now an almost laughable technology that was the predecessor of the Power Point, although PP would not like hearing that. A special treat was a showing of a very-low budget religious film that was, at the time, very convincing.

It was a calmer time in history, and violence and suffering didn’t seem like immediate threats to those of us who sat in our child-size folding chairs for the once-a-month treat of “The Bible on the Big Screen!” that is, the screen that stood perilously on its little stand in front of the large room in the basement (undercroft?) There, all of the classes K-6 gathered once a month to experience the story of “Daniel in the Lions’ Den” (mauling, anyone?), “The Flood “(God destroys the whole earth except Noah and his group), and “Sodom and Gomorrah” (God burns a whole city and kills Lot’s wife who makes a wrong move: she looks back at the place she loved). The Lutherans didn’t mince about Good Friday either: the nails in the hand, the blood… Mel Gibson could have gotten some ideas here.

Ironically, these things didn’t upset us nor did we find them funny (well, the girls didn’t; not sure about the boys but who cared about them anyway?) And we didn’t have to go home where the TV might be showing footage of the latest beheading by ISIS.

More than that, it was through these stories that we learned about the power of God. God shut the mouths of the lions so they couldn’t devour Daniel – as I recall, the movie showed him petting one of them! God destroyed the world, but we identified with righteous Noah and so God would care for us, too—and yay! God loves animals. God agrees to stop punishing Sodom and Gomorrah because some righteous people are located; therefore, God is not scary but reasonable. (Note: all of this is after Lot’s daughters get him drunk so as to seduce him; they each bear children by their father. The Lutherans spared us from that—and that would have freaked me out.)

Which brings me to Job, whose story is one of next Sunday’s lessons.

I first met Job in Sunday School (of course) and encountered him then as a long-suffering, patient man who questions God. When I read his story again last week, more than fifty years later, I met a soul mate, possibly my favorite personage in the whole Bible. I get Job.

The writer William Safire says that Job is the patron saint for all of us who get angry. He is the patron saint of “The Fellowship of the Infuriated.” His story is about so much more than patience and suffering. His story is what I have lived much of the time since I left Sunday School and encountered Life.

Bless those faithful Lutherans who introduced me to Job, and who taught me that the people in the Bible are worth knowing. And now, I cannot wait to talk about Job on Sunday.

No filmstrips, I promise.

See you in church.
Barbara

P.S. Here is a great link to helping kids deal with the Bible:

http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2013-02/r-rated‎

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