Nothing is more gut-wrenching – or potentially damaging – than for a minister to be fired. The ripple effect, often silent and deadly, leaves children in the wake, finding themselves reeling in the backlash. Nannygranne saw it on the faces of her young students in Bible class.
“Good morning, class. Have you had a good morning so far?” Nannygranne, seeing the long faces, knew they might have questions.
Naomi raised her hand, her eyes brimming and lower lip trembling. “Nannygranne, why can’t Sadie come to church here anymore?”
“What happened to Sadie, Naomi?” asked the teacher to see what, if anything, the children knew.
“They’re moving away!” offered one voice.
“Her daddy got fired!” Nick’s announcement was news to most of the children.
“I didn’t know you could fire a preacher,” said the third. And there it was—the confusing core of the question.
“You all must be really sad that Sadie’s not here today. I miss her, too. Did any of you get to tell her goodbye?”
“No,” muttered Naomi as she ducked her head with a little shudder.
“My big sister Julie cried and cried. Sadie’s sister, Sierra, is her best friend, and she didn’t get to talk to her either.” Keith’s searching eyes and mouth clamped shut informed Nannygranne that Keith’s family would be grieving as well.
“Have you all known of kids whose parents moved away because their jobs changed,” Nannygranne offered. A few of the kids raised their hands, nodding their heads. Then the rest raised their hands, not to be left out. “Sometimes grownups have to make decisions, and kids don’t know about it until it’s time to move.”
“But why didn’t they even say goodbye?” Naomi demanded.
“I don’t know, Naomi. I’m sorry it happened this way and made you sad. I think a lot of people would like for things to be different.”
After taking a moment to look around the room, Nannygranne knew it was time to pray and talk about God. “Nick, would you pray for our class and for Sadie’s family to be okay?”
After Nick’s prayer, Nannygranne began their lesson. “Did you know that Jesus got fired one time?”
“What does ‘fired’ mean?” asked the youngest child, Henry.
“’Fired’ means you can’t go back to work anymore because the boss is mad.” Nick puffed out his chest a little, proud of his superior knowledge as the oldest child in their pre-schoolers class.
“So did God get mad at the preacher and fire him?” Henry asked.
“Henry, that’s a good question. Who would know if God was mad at someone?” Nannygranne looked around the room as the children watched to see who would answer. All eyes fell on Nick, but he offered no answer. “I think God is the only one who knows what He thinks about our preacher. The Bible says that we can NEVER read God’s mind.”
“No, no, no. We can never read God’s mind,” repeated little Henry.
“When Jesus got fired, it was NOT because God was mad at Him. Jesus said He was always supposed to obey God the Father, and He did.”
“Then who fired him?” asked Nick
“Well, I’m going to turn to that story in my Bible in Luke 4:16 and start telling it to you.” Nannygranne carefully thumbed through the pages of her large-print Bible as the children watched. ‘Here it is. Jesus was all grown up. He’d been preaching at a lot of places. Then he decided to go back to where He grew up. Who remembers the name of where Jesus grew up?”
All the children raised eager hands, some bouncing and waving their hands, hoping to be picked first. Finally, Nick called out, “Bethlehem!”
“No, Jesus talked to the important men in the temple in Jerusalem. He lived in Jerusalem,” argued Keith.
“Well, those are places where Jesus went, but that’s not where He grew up,” Nannygranne explained. “Jesus grew up in Nazareth. They even called him a Nazarene.”
“You mean like they call me an American?” Keith asked.
“Exactly, Keith . . . So Jesus went back to His home town to tell His friends all about God and what He wanted. Jesus stood up in worship, took the Bible, and started reading in Isaiah’s book. Isaiah wrote that God said that He would send His son to teach all the people about what God wanted. Then Jesus said, “Here I am. I’m God’s Son.” Then He put the Bible back and sat back down. Well, His neighbors said, “That’s crazy! Your daddy was Joseph, the town builder right here in Nazareth. We’ve known you all your life! It’s a sin to say you are God’s son!” They got really angry with Jesus because they didn’t believe Isaiah. They told him to get out of town. But some of them decided they were even going to push Him off a cliff and kill Him! But Jesus made it so they couldn’t grab hold of Him, and He got away.”
“They wanted to kill Jesus!” gasped Sadie.
“Yeah, but He got away,” assured Nick.
“So did somebody want to kill the preacher, and he got away?” Sadie worried.
“No, no, Sadie. That is what happened to Jesus….”
“But he got away!” interrupted Nick again.
Nannygranne went on quickly, “Yes, this happened to Jesus and He got away. We don’t know why our preacher left and the grownups have to worry about that, not us. But we can always remember what he taught us about God and I am so glad he did. And we can pray for him and his family always. God knows where they are and how they are doing. Maybe you can see their children again at church camp or somewhere. But Jesus does understand why you feel sad. You see, some of Jesus’ friends and maybe even cousins or aunts and uncles didn’t get to say goodbye to Him that day. But if they believed what Jesus told them, Jesus took them home with Him when they died, and they’re with Him now.”
Naomi rose from her chair and stood near Nannygranne. “I hope you don’t get fired, Nannygranne. I would miss you, too.”
“Naomi, sometimes we don’t understand why some things happen, but God does, and it never surprises Him. He always works things out for His children, so we have everything we need.”
After Naomi returned to her seat, Nannygranne suggested, “Hey, would everyone like to draw a picture and for us to send a letter to Sadie and her family? We’ll tell them we love them and are praying for them today.”
“Yea!!! Let’s send Sadie a letter!!” Little Henry was elated.
“Henry, would you help me hand out the papers and crayons?”
“I’m going to draw a picture of Jesus preaching and people getting mad,” decided Nick. “Nannygranne, how do you write Nazareth?”