On Sunday morning I'm planning to take my Sunday Church School class outside to watch the annual motorcycle toy run. Every year about this time, hundreds of motorcycle riders collect money and toys and go for a ride from Coquitlam Centre, along the Barnet/Lougheed Highway, through downtown Port Moody and Burnaby, out to the PNE. For as long as I've attended St. Andrew's United Church it has been a tradition for the Sunday School teachers and kids to stand out in front of the church and wave at the bikers. We hold signs that spell out, "St. Andrew's Sunday Church School says Jesus loves bikers."
Reading this morning's article in the Sun about the local Hell's Angels chapters and their ongoing conflict with local police, I wonder about the implications of taking the kids outside to watch the parade. Are we buying in to a warm fuzzy PR effort to polish the image of organized criminals? Or are we saying, "Love everyone like Jesus does." Or does it work out to be some of each?
Not all of the bikers are Hell's Angels, although more than half appear to be. Most of my 9-11 year olds probably haven't heard of the Hell's Angels, or if they have, they don't know much about who they are or about the ongoing controversy: violent organized criminals vs. unjustly persecuted motorcycle enthusiasts.
I think the answer is to enjoy the parade, but also talk to the kids and find out what they know and how they feel about the issue. The Sunday School curriculum that we work with is based on questioning and discussion, and encouraging the children to think independently. There are no answers in my teacher resource book, only lots of questions and ideas for guiding the children to deepen their thinking and make personal connection to issues of morality, social responsibility and truth, in the light of a liberal Christian theology. As a new Christian (3 years in November) and rookie Sunday School teacher, I'm learning right along with them how to connect all of this together.
I'll check in with the minister and Sunday School coordinator too. Their experience and wisdom will help me with this one. In the meantime, I'll count myself lucky to be working with these kids, who remind me to stop and think about things more than if I was deciding only for myself.
Question: Any thoughts?
mompoet - believing in angels all over the place