Tag Archives: Teacher

Jonah and the Whale


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May 1, 2016 · 14:31

Bearing Fruit (Fifth of Easter, Year B)

Fifth of Easter (Easter IV)

John 15 verses 1-8




When Jesus arrived in heaven, all of the angels were there to greet Him.  After the formalities, they asked Him whom He had left behind on Earth to finish the work that He had begun.  Jesus answered, “Just a small group of men and women who love Me”.

“That’s all”?  Asked the angels, who were completely astonished.  “Are you kidding us.  After all, these are human beings we are talking about here.  What if this tiny group should fail”?  Jesus replied, “I have no other plans”.

Well, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is telling us that we are His plan to finish His work on Earth.  We are to be the ones to bear much fruit.

Here’s a small example of the fruit that one person can bear.  Many years ago, a university professor had his sociology class go into the slums of Baltimore to get case histories of 200 young boys.  The students were asked to write an evaluation of each boy’s future.  In every case, the students wrote, “He doesn’t have a chance”.

Twenty-five years later, another sociology professor came across the earlier study and had his students follow up on the project to see what actually had happened to these boys.  Twenty of the 200 boys had either died or moved away.  Of the remaining 180 boys, 176 of them had achieved more than ordinary success in the world.  They had become businessmen, lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.

The astounded professor decided to pursue this further and personally interviewed each of the men.  The one question he asked them was “How do you account for your success”?  To a man, they replied, “Well, you see, there was this teacher…”.

The teacher was still alive, so the professor sought her out.  Although she was quite elderly, she was still very alert.  When asked what was her magic formula for the boys’ success, she gently answered, “It’s really quite simple.  I loved those boys”.

And, isn’t that exactly what God is asking us to do too-to love other people?  And, the best thing about us “loving” other people is that Jesus is right there to help us.  After all, didn’t He say in today’s Gospel, “Whoever remains in Me and I in him, will bear much fruit”?

I think that Jesus specifically use the analogy of the vine to show us, not just how interconnected we are with God, but also how we are bound inextricably to one another.



Jesus used the lowly vine because, even though grape vines are gnarled and twisted around each other, they are extremely strong-just like the Church which He set up for us.

In addition, the vine underscores the fact that there are as many pathways to growth in God as there are members in the Church.  In any congregation or gathering, no one person has taken the same exact route to faith as another.

But they are there because God wants them to make their home in Him as He makes His home in them

After all, “home” is where we belong.  Home is where love is.

But, our home – the Church-isn’t full yet.  How many people have not “come home”-have not come back to God, their true home, because no-one has reached out to them-to love them; to befriend them?

We have to be the ones who help them.  We have to be their friend-to help them “come home”.

The Church which Jesus has graciously given us cannot be kept to ourselves.  It has to be passed on to others.  And, who knows, perhaps if we did manage to help someone come back to God, he or she in years to come, when asked how they found their faith, may say, like these boys in Baltimore, “Well, you see, I had this friend…”

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The Greatest

The teacher said, “I’ll give $2 to the child who can tell me who was the most famous man who ever lived.”

An Irish boy put his hand up and said, “It was St. Patrick.” The teacher said, “Sorry Sean, that’s not correct.”

Then a French boy put his hand up and said, “It was Napoleon.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Pierre, that’s not right either.”

Finally, a Jewish boy raised his hand and said, “It was Jesus Christ.” The teacher said, “That’s absolutely right, Maurice, come up here and I’ll give you the $2.”

As the teacher was giving Maurice his money, she said, “You know Maurice, you being Jewish, I was very surprised you said Jesus Christ.”

Maurice replied, “Yeah. In my heart I knew it was Moses, but business is business.”

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The Atheist Teacher

A young woman teacher  explains to her class of small children that she is an atheist. She asks her class if they are atheists too. Not really knowing what atheism is but wanting to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like fleshy fireworks.

There is, however, one exception. A girl named Lucy has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different.
“Because I’m not an atheist.”
Then, asks the teacher, “What are you?”
“I’m a Christian.”
The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Lucy why she is a Christian.
“Well, I was brought up knowing and loving Jesus. My mom is a Christian, and my dad is a Christian, so I am a Christian.”
The teacher is now angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly.
“What if your mum was a moron, and your dad was a moron. What would you be then?”
She paused, and smiled. “Then,” says Lucy, “I’d be an atheist.”

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The Parable of the Good Samaritan retold

For many of us, the Parable of the Samaritan has lost much of its original punch, having grown old and bland through familiarity and distance. So, during the coming weeks, I will be offering three different, unconventional retellings of the Parable of the Good Samaritan in hopes of reinvigorating our imaginations and reclaiming the story’s unsettling example of radical generosity.

The old preacher had been around long enough to know a fraud when he saw one. And he had grown tired of listening to this one regaling audiences in the shade of a pecan grove with fanciful tales of God that lacked any proper exegesis and rational hermeneutical lens. So, he carefully picked his question and planned his attack like a biblical chessmaster.

“Teacher, I’m confused” he called out, his pleasant drawl lazily floating on the ripples of the humid, Georgia heat. “Christians can’t seem to agree on just about anything. Sometimes it seems like they are worshiping completely different gods, to say nothing of the pagans and heathens who worship false gods. So, with all these gods running around in our heads, how do we know which god is the true God?”

The teacher sipped at his sweating glass of iced sweet tea. “Well, what does it say in the Bible? What’s your take?”

The old preacher, pleased to have the stage and perhaps set some erring minds in the audience straight, cleared his throat. “‘Well, God is good, just, loving and hates evil.’”

“Exactly, my friend,” the teacher replied. “Worship this God and you will live.”

But the man wanted to prove a point, that the teacher wasn’t worshiping this God at all. “But everybody — people of all faiths — says this is the God they serve, but clearly they can’t all be right, can they? There is only one true God, as the Scriptures says, not many.”

In reply, the teacher told another story.

“A man was going over to Atlanta from Birmingham, when he found himself in a deserted rest area on I-20. As he was getting out of his car to stretch his legs, a bunch of robbers approached him and pistol-whipped him. They left him in his underwear, bloodied, bruised and unable to move. They left him for dead, stripped of his money, credit cards and jewelry.

A few minutes later, a man arrived at the rest area and saw the poor beat up man lying in a pool of his own blood. He began to approach, but then noticed the multi-colored gay pride flag on his bumper. Instead of helping, he nodded in approval. The beaten man obviously was a heretical abomination and this beating was just, deserved punishment. So, he dragged the near-dead body into the bushes so no one else could help and continued to bring down righteous blows on him.

A little while later, another traveler stopped at the rest area and heard some rather painful moaning coming from the nearby bushes. He was shocked at the state of the beaten man, eyes swollen, blood-matted hair and the incoherent groaning in pain. He looked down in pity.

“Don’t worry,” he said to the beaten man. “You might be in excruciating pain now, but you won’t be once you get to heaven, which from the looks of your general state, won’t be too long from now. Rejoice in your suffering and count it a blessing! Soon you will be in paradise!”

On that happy note, he left, hoping the man’s suffering would purify him and joyful that another person would die on earth but live forever in heaven.

A third person arrived at the rest area. He had darker skin than the others and spoke with in heavily accented English. He too heard the moans of the beaten man.

When he saw the state of the wounded, he immediately gathered the man’s body into his arms and laid it in his back seat. After compressing the wounds, he sped to the nearby hospital where the nurse admitted the man but informed the kind traveler that without insurance they would stabilize him and send him home. The traveler pulled out a credit card and said to give the man the best care available. I’ll come back and pay anything my credit limit won’t cover.”

Which of these three do you think is the one, true God, the one who condemned and continued to torture him with hellish assaults; the one who told him to look to the world beyond; or the one who cared for him?”

The preacher replied, “The one who had unconditional mercy on him.”

“Go and serve this God, wherever you may find this God,” Jesus said

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July 11, 2013 · 14:32

Investing in People

 Jesus says that we should be rich in God’s sight?  How do we do that?  Well, mainly by investing in other people’s lives and making a real difference to them.

Here’s a story I rather like….

There once was a Primary School teacher, a Miss Thompson.  In her class was a lad, Terry Jones who was not very likeable. Terry was one of those youngsters that Miss Thompson did not care for.

 He was unkempt. His hair was dishevelled. He stared blankly at you, and uttered one syllable answers to the questions that he was asked. Miss Thompson took special delight in marking an X in red pencil beside wrong answers.

She should have known better. She had the records.. First Year, Terry is an average pupil but is not working to his potential, a bad home situation. Year Two, Terry is distracted and is not working well. His mother has terminal cancer. Year 3, Teddy is getting worse. He is not keeping up with the rest of the class, His mother died this year. His Dad seems disinterested.

At Christmas all the children brought presents for the teacher and piled them on her desk. Terry brought a present. It was wrapped in brown paper with masking tape.

Miss Thompson opened it. An old bracelet with some of the stones missing fell out, and there was a bottle of cheap perfume half empty.

The other children laughed. Miss Thompson had the sense to put the bracelet on and dabbed the perfume on her wrist. Then she lifted her arm up for all the children to see. Due to the example of the teacher, all agreed that it was a wonderful gift.

Terry stayed after school that day. He said, “Miss Thompson, when you put that perfume on you smell like my mother…..and her bracelet looked nice on you too.”

When the new term started, Miss Thompson was a changed person because she was determined not just to impart information but to make a difference in the lives of her pupils

She was going to truly invest herself in their lives. She started with Terry. She gave him extra classes, and by the end of the year, he had caught up to the rest of the class and was ahead of many.

Years later she got a letter:

Dear Miss Thompson, I’m doing fine. I am second in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. Signed: Terry Jones

Few years later, she got another letter:

Dear Miss Thompson, I have just been informed that I will graduate with Honours, 1st class. I thought that you would like to know. University has been hard, but I have enjoyed it. Signed: Terry Jones

Some years later she got another letter,

Dear Miss Thompson, I have finished my course, and as of June 30th will be Dr. Terry Jones, Doctor of Medicine. How about that? I am going to be married on July 27th. I want you to come to the wedding and sit where my mother would have sat. You are all the family I have left. Dad died last year. I surely hope that you can make it. Signed Terry Jones.

Miss Thompson went, and she sat where Terry’s mother would have sat. She deserved it because she had given herself in such a way that a student was brought alive and it made all the difference in the world

What’s really important? It is in giving ourselves in such a way that others could say we made a difference. That also is being rich in God’s sight

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Out of the mouths of babes…..

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl said, ‘When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah’. The teacher asked, ‘What if Jonah went to hell?’ The little girl replied, ‘Then you ask him’.

A Nursery School teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s work. As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, ‘I’m drawing God.’ The teacher paused and said, ‘But no one knows what God looks like.’ Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, ‘They will in a minute.’

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to ‘honour’ thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, ‘Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?’ Without missing a beat one little boy (the oldest of a family) answered, ‘Thou shall not kill.’

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic Primary School for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: ‘Take only ONE. God is watching.’ Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, ‘Take all you want. God is watching the apples.’

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