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The Lunchtime College and the mystery of the Christian Secret Code.

January 12, 2018

7Back in the years of my childhood growing up in Hershey, Pennsylvania, I was a member of the local  Cub Scouting program that met in a church on one of the main streets of the town.  After the meetings while waiting for my mom to pick me up (in our famous VW wagon, known as the “Zockollmobile”) I would wander around the halls and rooms of the church and nose about.

I recall walking into the sanctuary and wandering up the aisle, stopping and puzzling at an embroidered covering over the front of the altar.  Large golden letters emblazoned the front:  “IHS.”

I was puzzled.  I could recognize all of the other symbols of Christianity around the auditorium, but I could not figure out this acronym.  IHS?  Was it some sort of code I was not allowed to know?

Even more puzzling was whenever I asked the boys who attended that church, I got simple shrugs.  They didn’t know.  I asked around and nobody seemed to know what IHS meant.

Now, here at the front and center of the place of worship was a very ornate lettering that in view of people every worship day for weeks, months and years … and they didn’t know what it meant?

This curiosity got the better of me so I later researched it and found out that the answer varied:  while it is generally understood to mean the first three letters of the Greek name Jesus (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ) there are also those who felt it meant the Latin abbreviation Iesus Hominum Salvator, Jesus, Savior of Men or  In Hoc Signo  “in this sign (thou shalt conquer)” or even In Hac (Cruce) Salus, “in this (cross) salvation.”

My confusion was in the problem of the obvious:  how could so many people continually view something in a worship service and have no idea what it meant?  Didn’t they care enough to ask?

This became the focus of our classroom lunchtime conversation yesterday:  are you doing things on auto-pilot?  Do you know why Believers do what they do?  At lunchtime the members of our National Bible Honor Society will come in to my classroom and enjoy a Bible study or discussion while we slam down our food within the short amount of time that lunch affords us.  It’s a daily event, and the room becomes especially lively whenever I throw them a question that reaches down to the very core of being a Christian.

Yesterday’s Lunchtime College was along this lines.  I shrugged and asked the students, “What is it that a Christian is supposed to do?”

The answers started off as stereotypical.

Abby waved her fork and said,”Be kind.”

“Show love,”  added Cindy.

Sandy piped up:  “Read the Bible.”

“But a very good atheist or agnostic could do those things,”  I countered.  “Many early scholars were agnostics and read the Bible from cover to cover.  They were also very kind people.”

Allen frowned in deep thought.  “Praying is a powerful part…”

I shrugged again.  “Isn’t that similar to Buddhists and Hindu believers?”

The room grew silent.  They were processing, processing…

I reached over my lunch plate and turned on the PowerPoint.  “Why don’t we start with a very old but powerful teaching of the Believers of years ago.  It was called the Westminster Shorter Catechism and it was a powerful instructional tool.  Take a look at the very first teaching.”

The screen lit up and showed:

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

The students stared at it and I saw some eyebrows raised.  The light bulb was turning on.

“Perhaps we’d better start off with going back to the basics,” said Allen.  “Glorifying God.”

“And if we get that part down, then we can aim on how we will enjoy Him in Heaven forever…”  added Stacy.

It was a good start to our lunchtime learning experience.

I will leave that thought with you today.

 

 

 

 

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