Being an all-converts-all-the-time parish (no wait, there's that russian lady and her mother who come now, and all the kids we've had...)...OK, mostly-all-converts-mostly-all-the-time...we all bring our experiences from various backgrounds into Orthodoxy with us.
One of those things is Sunday School. We have a wonderful Sunday School in our parish. We love our kids. We have piles of them too. We not only want to teach them at home, we want to teach them at Church. And we do. Dedicated teachers, brilliant Sunday School directors...you know the drill.
But something is niggling on my mind. And it is this: When Sunday School starts at 9 a.m. (and it IS alot of work), and the Divine Liturgy does not start until 10 a.m. (and it is also alot of work) it really really reduces the number of people who can effectively fully participate in the pre-eucharistic fast. (Not that it's really any of my business, so I'm speaking of myself here.) 10 am DL with a half a day's work in advance of it? I get up, I cook food for common meal, I get my family ready and out the door, I teach Sunday School....this would leave me exhausted and hungry on any day, even WITH breakfast. And I AM exhausted on Sundays, even WITH breakfast (hypoglycemic I am, and all, health concerns, yadayadayada...but it bothers me that I can't cut down more, fast better, participate in the life of the Church more.)
I know I'm going out on a limb here, but it seems to me that we have a clash of paradigms going on here: do we prepare to meet Christ through Bible stories, on an intellectual and rational level, or do we as Orthodox prepare to meet Christ through taking in his Body and His Blood in the Eucharist FIRST, without then neglecting the study of the Holy Scriptures as well? And what are we teaching our kids this way, really? Is our late start time preventing people who otherwise would from coming forward for communion?
And I'm not saying Christian Ed. is not important. Goodness knows I work hard to make it happen, and I have a heart for it. But more and more I'm starting to wonder if it needs to happen some time OTHER than right before Eucharist, first thing Sunday morning?
What if Divine Liturgy were at eight o'clock or eight-thirty? It'd be over by ten. More people could fast more fully and the day would be open for the rest of it: the Sunday School, the meal together, etc. after that.
Is this not perhaps a case where we have New Wine, but we are trying to let it mature in our old wineskins?