When Accompaniment Becomes a Calling
A few Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to talk with the 5th & 6th grade Sunday school students at Gloria Dei about Guatemala. Fueled by my still-fresh senses from having just traveled to ILAG, as well as memories of my own childhood growing up at Gloria Dei with companions in Guatemala, I was eager to talk with the new generation of Sunday schoolers about how our global companions shape our own faith.
While Gloria Dei visited our companions at El Mirador school last month, the delegation acted out Luke 5, in which Jesus tells Simon that from now on he will catch people, rather than fish. After that, the students at El Mirador wrote their names on and colored in pictures of fish (which were originally drawn by Bishop Lull!).
On the Sunday that I taught Sunday school, the children of Gloria Dei walked into the room met by the fish of the El Mirador students. Photos of the children are taped between the array of colorful fish where names like, "Eduardo", "Sharon," and "Justin", as well as messages like, "Dios es amor", are printed boldly and with care.
I asked our 5th & 6th grade students what companionship with our friends in Guatemala might look like. They eyed the fish and the faces among the fish. "Perhaps it can be how we show them that we care, that they matter to us," one person said.
Our 5th & 6th graders, and the whole Gloria Dei congregation, will be learning more about how we can "catch" our companions and show them that they matter to us. How can we accompany our companions in a way that tells them that we care?
The Gloria Dei Sunday school children colored their own fish, writing their names and messages as they colored with love. As the students colored, I gave them each woven bracelets and asked them to find a name on the wall of fish from Guatemala. "Every time you touch this bracelet on your wrist, think about that name," I asked of them.
These fish that Gloria Dei students colored will be sent down to El Mirador for the students to touch and see and read. This is how we will learn each other's names - a simple first step that comes with any friendship.
Gloria Dei, St. Paul
Saint Paul Area Synod, ELCA