Sunday School Substitute

It was one of those last minute requests—the kind when you have no time to make an excuse. The teacher of the five year-olds was ill, and someone needed to take her Sunday school class—now.

“It’s easy.” I was told assuredly. “There are only ten of them.”  And one of me, I thought. I’m sure God was smiling. He knew what I was in for.

I quickly scanned her craft and lesson plan. I took ten paper plates, ten foam coffee cups and some extra paper to make large pretend stones. We’d be making Jesus’ burial tomb, while I shared the story of how Jesus died and was raised back to life.

Every child showed up that bright, sunny Sunday, and soon I had ten active little kids running around the room. Good thing no one was watching me do this. On second thought, I wanted to grab at least two more adults to help me manage these active kids as I handed each one a pair of scissors. I now had much greater respect for Kindergarten teachers.

Somehow ten little kids were able to cut the paper plate according to the directions—taking off the bottom third. This would be the front of Jesus’ tomb. In the middle of the plate we poked a hole and made it big enough to push the foam coffee cup through the opening.  I suddenly remembered I was supposed to be telling them the story of Jesus being crucified on the cross, and that he had died and was placed in a tomb like this one.

“Jesus was put in a cup?” A cute little boy asked quite seriously.

“No, this is a pretend tomb.”  I told him, hoping he wouldn’t share this whole episode with his parents. Several boys were now pretending to drink out of their tomb-cups—much to the delight of the rest.

“Let’s make the stone to cover the tomb now."  Little hands went to work cutting varying sized circles that we colored black to look like a huge rock.

Amazingly, there were no cut fingers as we finished constructing our paper plate and foam cup tombs. I demonstrated how the stone was rolled away when Mary Magdalene had gone to look for Jesus on Easter morning.  “SEE!!”  I exclaimed, “Jesus wasn’t inside.”

“He couldn’t be inside.” That same little boy said, “He couldn’t fit.”

I looked at the clock and then down at ten little faces with their paper tombs. Lesson failure. Obviously there was much more to Sunday school teaching than I knew. Parents would soon arrive. Could I  stamp "I tried" across my forehead?

Sighing more to myself, I said, “When you see your parents you can tell them that Jesus isn’t in the tomb—He’s alive and that’s why we celebrate Easter!”

Proudly showing his paper plate and cup tomb to his parents, the cute little boy explained that his teacher said Jesus couldn’t fit in the cup so He went to Heaven and then came back to tell everyone He was alive. I gave his parents a fleeting smile and wished them a Happy Easter.

Good thing God’s grace covers hapless Sunday school substitutes—and always includes His precious little children. I felt a little better.

As we celebrate Jesus' amazing gift to us, I wish you all a wondrous Easter. 

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