First, can we take another moment to recognize John Lettieri and Kathy Perry for the work they do with our children in Joyful Noise. And, even though they are in the room behind us in their last gathering with our children who received their Bibles this morning, also Rob Marano and Alison Cape who have led that program for the last 10 weeks. And, how about Kathy DiBiasi not just for her work with Sunday Spirit and what she shares during our Time with the Children, but also her work with our Middle School and High School youth. And, in addition to Kathy, all those who help with our Sunday Spirit program. And, for Elyssa Michaels who works with Kathy with our Middle School and High School youth. I am sure I have forgotten someone. If so, my apologies and our thanks.
A couple years ago, as Midge Keane was wrapping up her 31 years of teaching the special class we have for our Third grade students in preparation for their receiving their Bibles, she reminded me of a conversation we had had many years before. I had just started my work here at BPC and Midge, knowing I had experience in working with children and youth, made an appointment to talk with me about the Third grade Bible class. I think primarily she wanted to make sure she was “doing it right.” Far be it from me, the new kid on the block, to tell Midge Keane she was doing it wrong. In that more recent conversation, Midge reminded me of what I said to her that day 25 years ago or so. It went something like this.
Midge, helping the children learn a little about the Bible is important. The difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. And about the different books of the Bible. And about chapter and verses and how to find a particular place in the Bible when you are looking for it. But what is most important is Midge Keane. Your love of the children. Your love of the Bible. Your faith. I think I even said this to her: Faith is caught not taught.
Here is what I hope and what I believe.
I believe for as wonderful as the music of the Cherubs and the Choristers is, what I hope is through the music and through John Lettieri’s silly jokes and Kathy Perry’s hand motions and noise makers, the children who participate in Joyful Noise catch faith.
I believe that for all the planning Kathy DiBiasi and Julie Williams and all the other adults do for our Sunday Spirit program – lesson plans, books from the library, craft supplies all ready each and every Sunday morning – I hope that from all of you who greet our children by name and share stories with them and make a safe and welcoming place for them, that the children who run up and down the aisle and sit on the stairs and gather in our classrooms catch faith.
I believe that all the Middle School youth who gather on Friday nights with their friends and who play Sardines in the church catch faith from Kathy and Elyssa who laugh with them and talk with them and take their joys and concerns seriously.
I believe that all the high school students who help out at Neighbors Link or who go on a Midnight Run or one of our work trips catch faith from the interaction and the experience and the reflections about why and how and what it means for their lives.
Here is what I believe…
While learning is certainly important, in the end faith is caught not taught.
Maybe because that is what has been true in my life.
I don’t remember any particular Sunday School lesson and some of you remember my sermons better than I remember any particular sermon I have heard in all my years of being a part of a church. But I do remember Peter Procopio and Richard Bell and Sister Pauline and John David Burton. I remember you and the faith I have caught from you.
But catching faith doesn’t stop with our children, does it.
Maybe the same is true for you as it is for me.
What strikes me about the few verses from John’s Gospel which we read his morning is that when Philip tells Nathaniel about Jesus and Nathaniel responds, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” instead of listing all the good things about Nazareth or telling Nathaniel he shouldn’t be so negative or derogatory, Philip simply says, “Come and see.”
Do it with me. Experience it yourself. Be there for a moment.
Faith is caught not taught.
Maybe that is enough for today.
It has been a full morning with so much to celebrate and to give thanks for.
But let me leave you with this.
If we are, in fact, children of God and followers of Jesus…
And, if I am right that faith is caught not taught…
Where does your life echo Philip’s words of “Come and see?”
What about your life is so contagious that others catch faith from you?