Thursday, September 30, 2010

Unit 6b

As much as it has become in some circles commonplace to reject the faith of one's parents, perhaps in favour of a more synthetic-conventional Jesus-for-me super-church, I cannot help, as one who came to Christ 'unnaturally' (from a muslim heritage), but envy those who had any kind of Christian upbringing.

The importance of family in the transmission of the Gospel is utmost, as even the Scriptures show... nowadays we like to think of faith as 'personal', but in the NT, whole households were baptised, and the value of generational faith was key (Timothy, his mother and grandmother).

With this preface, I would think, despite modern cynicism with regards to the transmission of faith from parent to child, if I were to preach a sermon on the value of nurturing faith in children, some of the key concepts I would use might include:

1.  Secure attachment:  Erikson's first challenge is key in the foundation of a positive God-concept, that is trust.  Parents must respond to their children's needs, not spoil them, mind you, but they must give basic and timely care towards food, clothing, education and health.  To provide these would be to ensure children felt safe, which is necessary to allow for positive interaction in the environment and future growth and progress.

2.  Respect for Intrinsic Dynamics:  Kahlil Gibran, a great and wonderful poet-mystic, said of children that parents were not to hold to them too closely, as they belonged to the future, a place where we could not go.  Our job is to serve as the bow, to strech and aim as high and as far as we are able, to see that the arrow reached its proper summit.  Thus we recognize that children have their own inner drives, including emotions, and thoughts.  They are people in their own right.  Thus the decision to serve God must eventually become their own (although we must teach and pray nonetheless).

3.  Encouraging Interaction:  Despite St. John of the Cross' introverted saint, to be fully human one must learn to interact with others, to respect others and to cherish others as God's children.  In this respect, we are reminded of St. Francis of Assisi, who returned to preach and to serve the townspeople despite his hunger for the freedom of the wilderness.

4.  Patterning/Modelling:  If you smoke, don't be surprised if, despite all your hypocritical advice for your children not to, they eventually do.  I have of late, become keenly aware of my vices owing to the fact that I now have a baby watching my every move and registering with that deep trust of hers that this behavious of dad's is normative.  As Feldmeier suggests, we must provide positive experiences for the children by ourselves attanding worship services and by realizing that the home is a mini-church, a sacred space where our attitues about God and communication with Deity are soaked in, by osmotic processes within our kids.

5.  Conjunctive Growth:  While thinking about the challenge teenagers present and about midlife crises, I began to wonder if the presentation of one's own weaknesses in one's children is what causes one to revisit one's deeper or younger self in this age.  So perhaps Erikson's idea that old problems can be healed when revisited later on is useful, in the setting of mutual, or parallel growth.  Rather than despair or act out one's fantasies, healing may come by walking our teens through their angst, Bible in one hand and a salve for emotional wounds in the other.  With regards to young children, as this is our topic, perhaps one can attempt to monitor one's own weaknesses as they appear in our young kids' behaviours, and rather than punish the children for manifesting our own vices, we could minister in forgiveness in order that they and we, too, may overcome inherited sin.

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