Monday, August 09, 2010

Jesus Loves All the People

If you don't already read the blog The Church of No People, pop on over and check it out. Today, Matt Appling announced he is working on a book (not with Abingdon, so this isn't a personal plug!) and he is asking for readers' answers to a couple questions about raising children in the faith--whether kids from your youth group fell away from church as adults, whether your parents taught you about religion or left that to the church, and how confident you feel in your own ability to teach your children about Christianity (or if you will leave that to the church). I will respond to polls and surveys of any kind, so if you are like me and enjoy putting in your two cents, go do it!

What I really want to share today, however, is what I told Matt A. in response to his third question, about raising our own children in the faith. Given that (my husband) Matt and I are theologically educated, work in the church and church-related fields, and our faith is central to our lives, I feel pretty confident in our ability to educate our children about the faith, the Bible, and teach them to think deeply and critically about moral and theological issues. We hope that such guidance will instill in them a deep faith that will permeate their lives.

So far, though (since Kate is only 18 months, after all) the extent of Kate's theological education has been in the way I change the lyrics of "Jesus Loves the Little Children" to "Jesus Loves All the People." Kate has one or two children's Bibles, but since they are not currently in the rotation of four or five books she wants to read over and over, all the live-long day, I don't think those are informing too much of her thinking at this time. And of course, we take her to church, but it's just the nursery. (Actually, there is a children's Bible in the nursery that she requests over and over each week. I guess since the church doesn't have certain barnyard- and body part-oriented books, the Bible just has to suffice there!)

My half-joking comment about changing the song lyrics actually does say a lot about how religious education in our house will probably go. Matt and I think and talk about religious issues a lot, mainly in response to current events, news stories, blog posts, etc. as we take in the world around us and process it through the lens of our faith. I wanted to sing some of the Bible-songs I learned as a child to Kate, and "Jesus Loves the Little Children" came to mind, but I feel bothered by the way we sometimes care about poor children or children in foreign cultures, but seem to think that since adults are "responsible" for their situation, we don't need to love and assist people of all ages in need. Thus, "Jesus loves all the people / all the people of the world / red and yellow, black and white / they are precious in his sight / Jesus loves all the people of the world."

One day, we will talk with Kate about those words and what they mean. We will talk about First Amendment issues when they come up on the news, and about how Jesus would respond to people living on the street. We will talk about our relationships with God and the big questions we all wrestle with. The church is important in its own ways, but for raising a child in the "way s/he should go," I don't think a few hours a week can compete with the day to day life we share at home.


How do/did you nurture faith development in your children when they were very young?

3 comments:

David said...

When my 19 and 22-year-olds were 1 and 4, I had a major rekindling of my faith. I would say I was on fire for God.

I would go in their rooms and sing them simple kids worship songs that they knew from CDs and church.

We'd say grace at the table. They had prayer times at Christian daycare.

We went to church most Sunday - and that was it.

If one fell down, we taught them to pray for healing. It seemed sort of cute at the time, until my oldest walked through a crowd of panicked beach goers, and EMT's to pray for a drowning victim who was unconscious. She laid hands on his foot, and he survived.

They both served as YWAM missionaries - but recently they have become disillusioned with the shallow church folks trying to be nice, but not loving them.

Katie Bug said...

I like your rewrite of "Jesus Loves..."!
We definitely won't leave discussions of faith, the Bible and theology up to the church. Like you and Matt, these are things we routinely discuss in our home. We already "include" Katelyn in some of those discussions now.

Tracy Wells Miller said...

Your re-writing of "Jesus Loves the Little Children" reminded me of the song that Thomasjohn often sings -- a song in Spanish that means, "What color is God's skin?" (I guess that dates him, considering it's by the 60s group "Up With People"...) Anyway, being the child of the 80s that I am, I'd never heard it before and I really like it...

WHAT COLOR IS GOD'S SKIN:

"Good Night" I said to my little son
So tired out when the day was done
Then he said, as I tucked him in
"Tell me, Daddy - what color is God's skin?"

CHORUS:
What color is God's skin?
What color is God's skin?
I said, "It's black, brown, it's yellow,it's red, it's white
Every man's the same in the good Lord's sight.

He looked at me with his shining eyes
And then I knew I could tell no lies
He asked, "Daddy, why do the different races fight
If we're the same in the good Lord's sight?"

CHORUS

"Son, that's part of our suffering past
But the whole human race is learning at last
The thing we missed on the road we trod
Is walking as the daughters and the sons of God".

CHORUS

Sheet music for your guitar-playing husband:
http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdVPE.asp?ppn=MN0044563

Of course, were I to teach this to a child today, I'd probably change "every man's the same..." to "everyone's the same..." for gender-inclusive reasons, of course. And of course it's questionable whether we're all the "same" or each of us are unique and different and that fact is to be celebrated rather than affirming that we're the "same," but anyway. The sentiment is still nice.

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