Several years ago, I served in a church that had an excellent community afterschool ministry. Every Wednesday, students get off the bus at church and are there from about 2:30 until 7:15. During that time, they play outside; have a snack and later a full dinner; do their homework (with help from volunteer tutors as needed); and participate in choir, Bible study, and missions education.
I led the Bible study and often start with a song that goes with the day’s lesson. Recently, we began by singing “Jesus Loves Me.” The children sang the chorus through once or twice and then we added the American Sign Language to go with the lyrics.
“Touch your left palm with the middle finger of your right hand, and then reverse that, touching your right palm with the middle finger of your left hand. Like this,” I said, showing them the sign. We went through the rest of the signs quickly. “Cross your arms over your heart for ‘love,’ point to yourself for ‘me,’” and so on.
“Hey guys, do you know why the sign for Jesus is this?” I asked them, doing the sign again for them. They mimicked me, studying their hands as if trying to figure it out.
“Oh I know,” one little girl offered. “It’s because of the cross! Jesus had nails in his hands on the cross!”
“That’s right. The sign represents the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.”
As I affirmed the answer, another child said, “Oh! I thought it meant something else.”
His hands formed the sign again. “See how it kind of looks like a bridge from one hand to the other?”
“I thought maybe this was the sign for Jesus, because Jesus is our bridge to God.”
Well, yeah, there’s also that . . . .