I am having fun editing my book on Athanasius with some children at my church. Yesterday I visited the 1st-3rd grade Sunday School class and started to read the manuscript. Since I could not show the illustrations (not done yet), I drew pictures on the board.
They loved my illustration of Alexander watching Athanasius and his friends play on the beach. As soon as I started to draw some waves they told me I was a very good artist. There is nothing like the encouragement of a 7-year old. They also thought it was unusual to play “church” on a beach and wondered if Athanasius could baptize the other children “for real.” They asked if the other children were his brothers and sisters.
When I started the theological explanation of Arius’ doctrine, and how he said that if Jesus was God’s Son, He had to have a beginning, the discussion became particularly interesting, as someone pointed out that Jesus was actually born. I explained that He was born as a man but not as God. When we hear Arius’ formula ,”there was when He wasn’t,” we automatically understand it as referring to Jesus as God, but children don’t, so I made note of that.
The intense discussion suddenly shifted when Adam declared solemnly, “I know why God is not married.” He definitely got my attention.
“It’s not that He cannot be married,” He said, “but doesn’t want to because that’s the way He is. And He will never get married.”
The highlight of the lesson was the hand Athanasius’ enemies had brought in as a proof that he had killed Arsenius. Trying to be discreet, when I talked about the hand I pointed at a box, as if the enemies had brought it to Athanasius in a chest of some kind. That had the opposite effect, as Olivia asked me, her eyes wide open, “In our prize box?” I tried to reassure her, but she was not too sure and kept her eyes on the box carefully. “Is it still in the prize box?” she asked me later. This time I persuaded her that it was not.
Her brother Adam had the opposite reaction. His eyes shone bright as he heard of the severed hand. “A hand with blood gushing out? I have seen that hand!” Halloween was only a few days ago…
Sunday School ended there, but I am looking forward to reading the rest of the manuscript to the children. I could not write these books without them!