by Harry Banks

"Welcome to the Shark Tank" laughed a member of the adult Wasilla Sabbath School class. She was letting a visitor to the class know that the active interaction and honesty of the group was standard fare and he was being admitted into the inner circle of give and take. Even more surprising was the visitors response…"And I'm lovin' it."

I had always dreamed of a place of faith and trust, a place of joy and truth, a place of divine presence and real people. And here before my very eyes and ears that place had come to life, and shocko! it was being called "the shark tank"… Who’da guessed!

I always say I lack imagination. (especially when it comes to His miracles of redemption)

For the past couple of years this group of men and women and youth have grown from a gathering of strangers to a gathering of friends. Friends who miss each other when someone is unable to be present. Friends who share requests for prayer for healing, for family, for thanksgiving and praise. They say things like, "My week just isn't the same when I miss class."

Did I mention that I lack imagination! I don't know why, but I'm always shocked when people talk about how important the class is to them.

I'm a college teacher of technical topics like computers, routers, switches (whatever those are). I get carried away and treat my class like they are a bunch of college students. I give them assignments. I expect them to study the lesson. One day someone said "I looked over my lesson real quick last night, 'cause I was afraid Harry would ask if I had studied." And I heard a murmur of "me too’s". But it didn't sound like the usual guilt "afraid"… but more like they were "afraid" they would lose out on the chance to weigh in and participate. I believe it was the discussion that day about, did anybody know what was going on in the lesson, that brought out the "shark tank" comment. And it was the laughter that accompanied the confessions of inadequate preparation that caused me to marvel at what seemed to be a divine blending of grace, hope, love, joy, amid the foibles and less than perfect performance of real people.

Right, "Welcome to the shark tank". Welcome to the shark tank indeed. A place where the bite of honesty is met with love and joy. Where the bleeding wounds of life create a feeding frenzy of prayer and care.

I have let the class know I may be talking about the class in this blog. They responded with a rather casual OK… So…

Welcome to the shark tank!