The sound of children's voices and running feet animated the air.
Outside, Paul raked the debris of winter from the perennial flower beds, aided by a bevy of granddaughters and Joshua.
Inside, Peter sat at the long maple table in the back room, with his laptop open. Beside him, Stephen, elbows on table, with a school exercise book open, sat captive to a school project on reptiles.
I was preparing my Sunday school lesson for the next day, but I had hit a snag. The lesson was on the fall of Jericho and the children were to make trumpets shaped like ram's horns; shofars, to represent those blown at the fall of Jericho; but I couldn't figure out from the instructions how to make them.
I called on Peter for technical support, and, happy for a brief reprieve from the world of reptiles, he came over to have a look. Before long we were surrounded by a sea of orange construction paper with various corners snipped off in an attempt to make the horns. The fact that Peter was stumped, was strangely comforting to me. I wondered if anyone at the Sunday school curriculum department had ever tried to follow the instructions.
On Sunday morning I went prepared with my squares of orange paper with the corners trimmed off on one edge. as per the diagram. "We'll figure it out when it comes time to make them," I thought.
Sunday School was very lively and I was grateful to have two helpers; Susan's son Joel, and Frances. The children marched around a "wall" of cereal boxes, marching in ever tightening circles closer to the walls that were oh, so very tempting. I had to refocus them many times on the fact that they were Israelites obeying God who marched around in silence six times. On the seventh circuit on the seventh "day," every one shouted and blew imaginary trumpets as Frances tipped one box to make the pretend wall tumble like dominoes.
After memory work, snack and a puppet skit by Joel and Frances it was time for the trumpet craft. The children decorated one side of them with care, heads bowed in concentration as they worked. One by one their heads popped up expectantly for help from us in gluing the trumpets into "shape." I was grateful that children are very forgiving, because although we did our best they resembled long decorated tubes more than trumpets.
A bright little girl named Amy, came up to me afterwards and said with certainty, "I know how to do it." I thought that perhaps she had cracked the code, but Amy's creative solution was to cover the orange tube with another piece of paper and a few minutes, she did indeed have something that looked like a shofar, only it was an entirely new creation of two tubes held together with scotch tape. She helpfully offered to show the other children how to make them next week. "Only if there's time," she said.
Afterwards, little Joshua, who is in a younger class, asked Frances for her trumpet, but he would only take it if it was a "party hat." Frances said, "Well then; it is a party hat.
With a very satisfied look, Joshua put the trumpet on his head and walked away, happy.
Come to think of it, the precept of the lesson was, "Obey God even when it doesn't make sense."
Aha! Maybe that was the message in the trumpets. Well, it is a thought.