666

Here at the beginning of the academic year, I offer up this story for all church teachers.

About 20 years ago I was on a Cursillo weekend as a team member. One of my roles was to give one of the 15 talks. Mine was the talk on “Study.” In the course of the talk I told the cursillistas (that’s the people on the weekend) about the unsurpassed usefulness of the Oxford Annotated Bible, especially the footnotes, which are an education in themselves. I told them about the numbers 666 and 616 in the Book of Revelation, (13:18) how they were codes for the name of the Roman Emperor. In the numerology of the time, cryptology if you will, the name Nero Caesar translated to 616 and Neron Caesar (a variation of the name of the same person) translated to 666. The numbers were just a cryptic way of referring to Caesar in a way the authorities wouldn’t understand. There is nothing mystical or mysterious about them. I was later told that one of the men at one of the tables at the back of the room had to be physically restrained from going to the front of the room and punching me out for these comments about Revelation. Somehow I was destroying his faith. How could someone – and not just anyone, but an Episcopalian – have reached his age, 30-something, in that state of understanding? A teaching failure I’d say, but in fairness, he might have been a recent convert and he might not have had many instructional opportunities.

St. Alban’s is blessed with a rich tradition of clergy and lay teachers who have taken Christian education at all levels, – children, youth and adult – as a highest priority. Avail yourself of one of the many opportunities to learn the facts and meaning of holy scripture and church history. There are offerings at so many different days and times there will be something for you.

I give thanks for all the teachers in my life. There is not a prayer for teachers in the BCP. But there is this from the Book of Occasional Services for the Commissioning of Teachers;

God of all wisdom and knowledge, give your blessing and guidance to all who teach in your Church, that by word and example they may lead those whom they teach to the knowledge and love of you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 2-September-2014.

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