“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’” (Matthew 16:13).
Our kids have no shortage of questions: What is that? Why? How does that work? Where was I before I was born? What does that mean? Why do the birds fly away in the winter? What does communion mean? Why do they light candles to begin church services? From the seemingly simple to the ones that stop you in your tracks, our kids’ questions can help us learn what interests and excites them. Their questions also point to how they see the world and their desire to learn and make sense of what’s before them.
If I’m honest, I can get exasperated by all the questions my children ask. When I’m in the middle of a task, their questions deter me from the job at hand. And sometimes I don’t know the answers. But I’m realizing that when I stop and listen, I hear my kids trying to make sense of the world.
The new year tends to be ripe for starting new things: faith practices, exercise routines, healthy eating, goals and hopes for the months ahead. Yet, I wonder if this time of year can be better served in other ways. Can we look at the questions our children are asking and use them as a way to engage in faith formation? What interests them? What puzzles them? What makes them come alive? Can we look at the world and the questions we have to come up with new ways to care for our neighbors?
If our kids ask why things are done a certain way in church, we can share with them the history and traditions of our faith. Their questions allow us to wonder why we do what we do and how we can find meaning in acts of worship, communion and fellowship.
If they ask about the differences in neighbors, we can share about the beauty of God’s creation and how we are all created in God’s image.
If they ask about the people and countries across the world, we can share ways to love our neighbors, both at home and abroad.
Questions are a gift of a growing and deepening faith. May this year be full of questions and the joy of being open to how God is at work in the answers.
- Invite your kids to take part in worship (as ushers, greeters or readers) and learn together about the practices of your church. Bring your questions to your congregation’s pastor and worship leaders.
- Keep a running list of all the questions your family has about God. Don’t worry about answering them right away—simply be open to wondering and trusting in mystery.
Take a walk or a drive in your community. What do you notice? What do you see? Be open to how your questions can lead you to connect with your neighbors.
Grab your Christmas cards and put them in a place where you can access them easily throughout the year. Choose a time during the day (mealtime or bedtime) to pick a card and pray for that family. Ask God to be with them and give thanks for staying connected to friends near and far.
Pray together: Dear God, thank you for these people and the love they share. May they know joy and hope; may they have good health and know your peace. Keep us connected throughout the year. Amen.