I've been teaching the adult Sunday School class at church for the last 18 months. The class is called Gospel Doctrine. We studied the Old Testament in 2010, and we're studying the New Testament in 2011. Teaching this class has been a joy. The class discussions are stimulating, and my personal faith and testimony have been deepened as I have studied the scriptures more carefully. The (Mormon) church puts out strong teacher support materials, and I never lacked for a bounty of information, ideas, and Christ-centered scriptural teachings to share with the class every Sunday.
Two weeks ago, I had a phone call from one of the bishop's counselors. He wanted to meet with me. I was pretty sure what that meant. Mormon churches are run entirely by lay leadership, from the bishop down to the nursery leaders. Everyone knows they will take a turn at a wide variety of church assignments, or callings. I've always believed that my bishop and his counselors are inspired, so it would be silly to decline a new calling. If the bishop is inspired by God, then saying "No thank you" would be like saying "no" to God, right?
The bishop's counselor was very sweet. He thanked me for my service as Gospel Doctrine teacher, and then he told me I was being released because my service was needed even more urgently elsewhere...in the church nursery!
Now there was a time (probably when my own children were small) that I dreaded serving in the nursery. This time around, I am thrilled about it. Our nursery is growing, and they need to split it into two groups. I will be the leader of the "junior nursery," with children ages 18 months old - 2 years old. (Younger babies and children stay with their parents. A Mormon church nursery isn't about child care; it's a place for young children to learn the gospel at church.)
I am honored to have an opportunity to serve as the junior nursery leader. What a sacred thing--I get to be their teacher who will introduce them to their own class in the church. As small as they are, they have a place to be at church, a place where they can feel safe and loved as they learn the gospel.
I went to the nursery today to begin re-learning the ropes. It's been 20+ years since I've served in the nursery. It's a lot more than just a playtime for the children. They do begin with playtime...after all, they've just sat (more or less) through 70 minutes of Sacrament Meeting in the chapel with their families. But after a while the toys are put away and the nursery presents a real lesson to these little ones. They learn to sit on their chairs, to take turns, and to listen to a teacher in the church. Later they sing Primary songs and have a snack.
And it was a busy group! The time flew by, and before I knew it, the parents were coming in to pick up their children. We sang a goodbye song to each child and she/he left, and they departed with smiles and hugs.