Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Yet More on Kids

(from Andy, related to my last two entries):

"Since God has created all things including children, would it make sense that children are the most recent creations that saw the Father prior to being created? In my experience, children already comprehend community much better at it than we adults do. Perhaps they are masters at it and we teach them to turn away from deep community all in the name of education, bigotry, fanatical moves, etc. (you know grown up reasons). In turn, I ponder what we would learn by genuinely observing our children in a pure, innocent atmosphere. To see them interact with a new kid with out all the hesitations that have been instilled in them from us. If one gets hurt in any way, what would be their reaction? Would it be to isolate themselves from the broken child? Would they say that I am too good for you and therefore I will take my ball and go home?"

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Another Perspective on Our Kids

(After my March 29 entry, which was heartfelt, yet harsh, I received an e-mail from Amy with the following perspective which I really respected):

"I look at it from a mentoring perspective. It is very good for kids to see
how adults worship and learn in a time set aside for that purpose. If our
kids only see the adults, that mean so much to them, before and after church
they miss out on the vulnerable times. Those times when adults are
learning, worshiping and truly moved by the Spirit of God. It will make
those things so much more natural for our kids than it is for most of us.

Just as we don’t expect all the adults to get all their spiritual food at
the gathering, we shouldn’t expect the kids to either. As parents it is our
responsibility to teach our kids daily. I think when you put them in a
class, we start relying on others to fill that need. Kids love being with
their parents! It is really the way God created them, it is our society
that thinks differently. My kids have learned more from Joe
than any Sunday school class they have ever been in. I just think we do
more for our kids by including them in “real life” that secluding them to
their peers. I know that the friends I have at Apex love having the kids
included! I have heard lots of “I love keeping my family together” and
haven’t heard any complaints. Our kids are learning a much bigger spiritual
lesson by being at our sides than if they were playing “mother may I” and
listening to a Bible story."

(If you have other perspectives, e-mail me. Maybe we can start a healthy and constructive discussion on this issue).

Monday, March 29, 2004

The Kingdom Belongs to Such as These
Kids. Soon I'll have two of them. At our Gathering last night, we had around 20 pre-schoolers in with the adults. It was cool in a way. I'm proud & excited that we are flexible and mature enough to be able to have our kids in with us. Tori and others danced in the back. I wondered if God was using them to teach us how to express ourselves to Him.

But I was also deeply troubled. Why do we, the 80 or so adults in the room, and especially we, the parents among the 80, feel normal about doing an adult program for ourselves and asking our kids to just sit there and play along? Why do we (especially us parents) not automatically think that we should instead do something meaningful for the kids and make the adults sit there and play along? I began to fear that we are (or at least I am) basically self-focused people who, in a spiritual sense, would rather sit and eat a hearty meal while our kids sit next to us and nearly starve. If this really were a food analogy, wouldn't we feed our kids first and then hope for leftovers for ourselves?

Of course, we could justify ourselves by saying that our kids are well-fed by sitting and watching us eat, perhaps scavenging a few of the crumbs that we spill. I hope that is true. But I have a haunting fear that we are way off base. When we meet (be it in a house or in a Lutheran sanctuary), could we really use our time in any better way than to invest in our kids? To teach them the things we have been taught? To instill in them a sense of wonder for Father? To allow them to find genuine community? To serve them? Now that I'm 33 years old, can I push my plate away long enough to feed five-year-olds? Do I need to gain another 100 spiritual pounds before I am able to be more of a feeder than an eater?

Father, have mercy on us.