There’s a question I hear often at parties and other social events in which I’m meeting new people, a dreaded and sometimes uncomfortable question: what do you do? I always hesitate to answer, not because I’m ashamed of what I do, but because of the perception someone might have of what I do. I direct a Christian Education program at a United Methodist Church, a reconciling church. They almost always hear “Christian” and “Church” and ignore the rest. Based on previous assumptions or negative experiences with religion, their minds jump to conclusions such as “he’s a religious fanatic,” “he doesn’t believe in evolution,” and “he will eventually ask me if I’m saved or if I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Neither my occupation nor my faith direct me to do or believe any of these things. If I’m lucky, the conversation ignores those assumptions and I get a chance to explain a little about what I do. The question becomes: what is Christian Education? Does that mean reading the Bible, praying, and singing songs about Jesus? Yes. Does that mean using the Bible as a weapon, praying for others to follow my particular religious viewpoint, and singing songs that impose guilt on children because of a negative theological view of sin? Absolutely not! What lies behind the Bible, the prayers, and the songs? Community, compassion, and a sense of a world greater than yourself. Exploration, discernment, and pondering quiet moments. Giving lots of high fives, handshakes, and peace pokes to greet others in our congregation. Sometimes it means dancing, playing games, or passing a slice of homemade bread to your neighbor. Christian Education is not a course one takes for credit or a test one needs to pass. Christian Education is a wandering journey (much like this blog on Christian Education) and an ongoing experience. It is, in fact, a lot like shoveling snow. There are times when the snow is light, fluffy, and easy to move with a shovel. There are times when a spade, ice pick, or a handy flamethrower is necessary. Some people seem to excel at removing snow while others suffer back pain and numb extremities. Sometimes a group of people working together can clear an entire street in fifteen minutes. Sometimes we find ourselves out before the sun rises laboring alone in the cold. We walk by the houses of our neighbors and we see some sidewalks free of snow and covered in salt. In some places, we don’t even see the sidewalk because it seems one neighbor either didn’t bother to try or is unable to remove the snow. What do I do? I have warm socks, gloves, a hat, a coat, and a cozy pair of long underwear. I own a pair of waterproof boots. I have a snow shovel in one hand and ice melt in the other. As I work on shoveling my own sidewalk and driveway, I’m also prepared to help you shovel yours. I’ll even offer a cup of hot cocoa.