In my third-grade faith formation class, the story of Noah’s Ark came up while we were discussing another topic. One of the girls asked, “If God punished the whole world with a flood and wiped everyone out because of sin, could he wipe us all out as well? We are all sinners.”
My immediate thought was, “Wow, what an incredible question!” I loved that she remembered a previous lesson when we had talked about how we are all sinners.
Before I could answer her question, a boy in the class jumped in with his answer. “Maybe,” he said. “There is so much bad in the world, we have to be careful to be good and not sin. God could wipe us all out if the world has enough sin.”
My heart cried, “Noooo!” That is not the image of a loving and merciful God that I’ve been attempting to teach for the last several months. I want my students to be able to turn to God in times of trouble and look for God’s loving embrace, not to be afraid that God will smite them down for their wrongdoing.
About the time I was ready to explain that God is loving and merciful, another child jumped in and said, “No, he won’t. That’s why he sent the rainbow. God promised never to do it again.”
“Yay!” my heart cheered. That was right. We talked for a bit more about how God sent the rainbow as a promise, a covenant to never destroy humanity again.
But then I asked the class what else God did to ensure our salvation. God knew that people would continue to sin, so what did God do later to save us all from our sins? One hand in the back shot up immediately. Not sure of the answer I was about to get from this normally quiet boy, I called on him. “He sent Jesus, who died for us, to save us from our sins and open the gates to heaven.”
A big smiled crossed my face—it was one of those moments as a teacher when you realize the kids understand. Who knew that a random, but well-thought-out question would lead us to this moment? It was a good day.
When was a time that you realized that the kids in your class showed understanding of all that you had been teaching them? Share your stories about a good day in your faith-formation classroom.