Little wooden chairs at short round tables. Hand-carved crucifixes on the wall. Old timey hymns playing on a turntable. Can’t you just picture being back in your childhood Sunday School room? Let’s take a break from the present and revisit the churches of your youth with these five scripture stories that are sure to bring back memories of Sunday School past.
1. Adam and Eve
“In the beginning…” Even if you never darkened the door of a church a day in your life past childhood, it’s likely you’ll never forget the opening words to Genesis. While you may not remember the order of creation, it’s hard to forget your first introduction to the original people of the Bible, Adam and Eve. You probably remember the first man, crafted in the likeness of God himself, the first woman, partially formed from man, their perfect life in Eden and the snake. You might also remember painting apple trees with finger prints or other crafts to illustrate this story.
2. David and Goliath
A small untrained boy versus a giant military warrior. David and Goliath is the ultimate underdog tale. After the creation story, the accounting of David versus Goliath is likely one of the first you’ll remember from Sunday School. You probably still associate it with advice to never give in to bullies and always believe in the power of good and God. You may have even made a slingshot as your craft that long-ago Sunday, so you could channel your inner David. But did you realize, then, that this was also your first introduction to the person who would become the great King David?
3. Noah and the Ark
“The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah…” Just that small snippet might have you humming this child’s tune loosely based on the Biblical story of Noah loading each animal, two by two, on to the ark. In your childhood Sunday School class, you may not have focused on the story behind the ark: God’s anger at a sinful world and his determination to destroy it and start over. Rather, what you probably remember are tales of loading all creatures great and small onto a boat larger than your imaginings that voyaged the seas for 40 days and 40 nights. If you re-read Genesis 6-8 as an adult, you may be surprised by the depth of details that were glossed over in your childhood. For example, Noah brought seven of certain animals, not just two.
4. Moses and the Red Sea
Depending on your age, the epic Charlton Heston flick The Ten Commandments may have as much to do with your memories of Moses as what you learned in childhood Sunday School classes. In one of the most memorable scene from 1950's cinema, heavily bearded Heston stood with his majestic arms raised, raging waters parting to either side of him while his people faithfully waited to cross the now-dry seabed. Actually, the story of Moses is very long and in-depth and the subject of entire books of the Old Testament. But the parting of the Red Sea … what story from the Bible shows more vividly the visceral power of God?
5. Jonah and the Whale
No list of memorable Bible stories of your youth would be complete without a mention of Jonah and the whale. Jonah was given a great task by God but didn’t want to fulfill it and tried to flee. To punish him, God sent a great whale to swallow him whole. (A few years later, your teachers may have noted similarities to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.) Once Jonah realized he couldn’t run from God, he was delivered from the whale and completed his mission. As an adult, you may have learned that his quest was to save the city of Nineveh from God’s wrath, while as a child, your memories centered on the funny image of a man in a whale’s belly.