“And now, go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.” – Mt 28:7 (NLT)
I get to go to Galilee for at least an hour every week. Sure, there are some weeks where I spend most of my time “out there,” the reality of full-time ordained ministry is that I sit at a desk a lot more than I thought I would. But even when the week has nothing but study, sermon prep, and administration to offer, I know that at 9am on Thursday morning, I’ll enter the Galilee that is Mrs. Davis’ Kindergarten class.
Now in its seventh year, Saint Paul’s has been providing volunteers to support the work at Foley Elementary School. When we began our work there, the free and reduced lunch rate, a key poverty indicator, was at 72%. Now it is 80%. Four years into the program, FES had its first minority majority kindergarten class, but Alabama’s draconian immigration policy has changed that (some). I took a two year hiatus after the teacher in my classroom left to raise here babies, but boy am I glad to be back, seeing the face of Jesus in each child, in the grandmother who volunteers alongside me, and, most especially, in Mrs. Davis.
I know that FES is Galilee because that’s where I find Jesus. I find Jesus in the caring hearts of every teacher, janitor, nutrition specialist, and administrator who give of themselves to ensure that every child knows that they are loved by someone. I find Jesus in the kids who find joy in learning, who are reading well above grade level, and who carry the same privileges as me. I find Jesus in the child who had never held a crayon before the first day of Kindergarten, who can’t tell an “A” from a “Z” or the color purple from the number nine. I find Jesus in the simple act of playing Chutes and Ladders knowing that learning to count to 6, or 10, of 100 might help one child break the cycle of poverty.
Rarely do I wear my collar there. Seldom to we talk about what I do. I’ve probably never mentioned Jesus to one of these children, but I’m certain that they’ve experienced God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ because he’s met me in Galilee, just as he has promised.