Situation: Mathew is at his work place, into the last stages of his work for the day.
Narrator: It’s another day in Mathew’s life. Married to Martha and a father of a son Rahul and a daughter Maria, he is a workaholic. Work is always hectic and always comes first in spite of all that he tries to do to get home early. Weekends have also started becoming very much like weekdays. A winner all the way, Mathew was the topper at school and college and even at the Sunday school. And this is still having its impact on his personality in that he strives to get to the top spot in everything he does. So much so that he even drives his kids to get to the top spot in whatever they do. But what has been the impact of this burning desire on him and his family in the long run? Let's see....
Situation: Its a Sunday School scene with the teachers announcing a competition. Mathew’s kids will be seen here as part of this Sunday school.
Actors: Sunday school teachers (Three of them out of which one does the announcement) and a group of children.
Narrator: It’s Sunday and here we are at the Sunday school, a great place opening up unique opportunities for children to learn about God and to get moulded in several facets of life.
Children: (9 students seated in few rows. They are in their own world. They keep talking in a moderate volume amongst themselves paying little attention to the teachers. Some of them create a few pranks too. One of them calls out a warning.) "Hey, look out the teachers are here."
Teacher: “Silence …” (again shouts out the same)…"Silence," (thumps the desk and moves up and down correcting children on the mischiefs they are upto). "Listen….there is an important announcement. Sunday school regional competitions are coming soon….we had our internal competitions here last month and we have selected Jacob and Rahul for the Bible Verses competition and Maria and Shilpa for the Songs competition."
Children: (They go into raptures and shout out the names of the selected ones)
Narrator: Maria and Rahul always find a place in the selected list of winners of the Sunday School competitions. This is the fourth time that they are heading for the regional competitions in the church. They also exhibit the same burning desire to reach the top in all competitions like their father.
Situation: Mathew’s family at their home. Mathew is into 24 x 7 working mode, always with a cell phone and laptop.
Actors: Mathew, Martha, Rahul and Maria.
Narrator: Here we are at the home of the Mathews. Mathew is on the cell phone taking conference calls and working on his laptop. Martha just has enough time for the house chores and her lecturer's job. She guides the children in whatever way she can in their studies. The children also attend tuition classes for their school subjects. But for Sunday school topics, where can we find a tuition teacher? Let’s hear what the children have to say. (Both Rahul and Maria try to tell their achievements first).
Rahul: "Daddy, you know something? I got selected for the Bible Verses competition at the regional level."
Maria: "I too got selected Dad for the Songs competition…I too got selected…"
Mathew: "Excellent....that’s my children. Your Sunday School master told this to me last Sunday....so I know. Rahul, I have prepared a list of Bible Verses with chapter references and left it on your table...make sure you study that well....I mean the verses along with their references, the chapter number and the verse number. Memorize it well and practice speaking on stage. Let me see that happen today. And Maria, I want you to memorize the songs that are listed for the competition…learn how to pronounce the Malayalam words and then practice singing it...learn it well...I want to hear you soon...I have written all the songs in one sheet and left it on your desk. "
Rahul and Maria (together): "Ok Dad."
Narrator: The children pick up the sheets that Mathew prepared and start their work diligently.
Maria: "Dad, can you help me with this….the meaning of this song “Charthum neethiye nin acharyan marum” (This is a song from the Malayalam Church Service Book ...we could apply this situation to any other song that you could take from Church Service books that is not so obviously easy for the children to comprehend it’s real meaning)
Mathew: "That’s not required for this competition…you just memorize it first and try singing….I will explain it later when I have time."
Maria: "What, if they ask me the meaning of the song in the competition Daddy?"
Mathew: "Look here my dear...Dad has been to so many competitions at Church and won so many prizes…I am sure they will not ask…so just memorize them…that should be just fine."
Narrator: Maria wants to understand the meaning so that she does not miss out any marks in case questions come in that direction. Mathew has been a winner at competitions, but the fact is that he has been singing these songs like a little parrot, right through the years of his life without understanding its meaning. Its truly embarrassing for him to tell his children that he does not know the meaning of the song….particularly when there is huge collection of trophies for all the Sunday School competitions he won in his time arranged so well in the showcase at their home….
Maria (Running upto Martha): "Mummy can you help me with the meaning of this song?"
Martha: "I am busy here my dear….well Dad is the right person …he knows best….listen to what he says…."
Narrator: And so Maria and Rahul spend their time memorizing the songs and memory verses for the competiton. Like Maria, Rahul does not bother to understand the meaning of the verses either nor does Mathew or Martha stress that he should understand the meaning. The Sunday School also does not spend exclusive time to explain the meaning of Church Service Songs or Bible Verses to the children. May be the time they have for teaching all these along with the other parts of the Bible School syllabus is too little or may be the teachers themselves are not sure. But then, on the Competition day both Rahul and Maria emerge winners…..their hardwork paid off and they come home with victory…both grabbing first prizes….
Situation: Both Maria and Rahul come out of the Church with their trophies and meet Uncle Jose who is their family friend.
Actors: Uncle Jose, Rahul and Maria.
Jose: "Hey Rahul...really smart….keep it up….Maria…u sang well…..hey…let me see your trophies…very good eh…..like your Dad….keep it up…..do you know I was there at the Church for the competitions?…I saw both of you perform….."
Rahul and Maria: "Thank you , Uncle…"
Jose: "Maria, do you know the meaning of the song you sang? It's such a good song and it has such a great and deep meaning."
Maria: "Hmmmm…..well....(with her fingers running over her head)...I know little..." (She feels embarrassed and Rahul also feels the pressure).
Jose: "Both of you should understand the full meaning of all Church Service songs and Bible verses that you learn....its very important…..if u want I will help u ok…call me when u need….ok?...bye then…. "
Rahul and Maria: "Bye Uncle" (and they run and disappear quickly).
Narrator: Many times in our life…religious education takes a different path….this education sometimes can be compared to a boat heading for a great destination. We row with all the hard work but then if the direction is a little changed, the place we land can be a different destination all together. Tomorrow when our children step out into this world as matured people and face life's problems, they should have loads of faith that came out of their religious education. Taking the example of the Biblical story of David the young shepherd boy and Goliath the giant, our children when they face problems tomorrow of the dimensions of Goliath, religious education should have given them the foundation so as to overcome these problems of the size of giant Goliath with the kind of faith that the young shepherd boy David exhibited.
Stories and teachings like these should be able to fuel us with a faith of the kind David had. Learning other statistics like the weapons Goliath and David used or the place where the battle was fought and the tribe or clan they belonged to can always take a lesser priority.
Only then can we mould generations who have a strong and steady foundation of religious faith.