Three 6th graders and I just finished our time together, chatting about what it means to be a Christian. What a wonderful opportunity to be able to spend one hour a week, listening to these people of faith. Our last session involved our youth inviting a mentor, someone who has had an influence in their lives. Each youth and mentor gathered to share their life/faith timeline, significant moments in their lives where they’ve experienced God’s presence, and places of doubt and questioning and joy and grief. What a Holy time.
I believe that Christianity is not learned solely by sitting in a classroom and memorizing what makes you a Christian. Learning what it means to follow in the way of Jesus, more often than not, comes from looking over someone’s shoulder, someone who lives out their faith in a way that makes us take notice.
As we ended our time together, I gave each person some clay and asked them to create a symbol of their faith. They traded the creations with their partners and committed to pray for one another. One of our 6th graders created this image:
When I asked about it, he said, “you can’t really be a Christian by yourself.” Well… Amen!
We all try to live our lives as followers of Jesus, but I often find myself going through the motions. A friend of mind, after being asked “how are you,” responded by saying “partly cloudy.” The person asking didn’t even break stride. I really have to focus on singing the Doxology each week so that it’s not just another song. How often are we going through the motions and not giving much thought to what we say or do?
Each time we dedicate a child here at River Road, these are the commitments we make to God, to the child, and to the parents:
The church, as a family of God, gladly joins you in holy covenant, and we promise to care for and nurture your children. We accept your children as our own. Your concerns are our concerns. Your joys are our joys. We rejoice to take these children under our care.
How are we keeping these commitments? Are we just repeating the words of faith out of habit or do our lives reflect what we truly believe? I encourage you to give this some thought and prayer.
It’s likely that someone is looking over your shoulder, taking notice of what you believe.
Preach the Gospel. If necessary, use words.
– St. Francis of Assisi