Scott’s Column: Why We Care for Children Oct 16, 2023 | Education, News Faith Formation: Why We Do It In our struggle with time—how to tell it, how to keep it, what to do with it, how fast or slow it goes—what we truly long for is a feeling of fullness, of being fully alive, of living the good life. That was the theme of a sermon series I preached back during the Easter Season 2022 focusing on resonance. We were guided by this idea from the professor of Christian Education, Andrew Root: We long to find a true fullness that draws us not through time, into some future, but more deeply into time itself. We long to live so deeply in time that we hear and feel the calling of eternity. We yearn to find once again the infinite in time, to find the sacred in the present, and therefore to be truly alive! What’s this got to do with Christian education and the faith formation of our children? In Matthew 18 Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Andrew Root draws a typical preacher’s three lessons from this passage. First, it is “a direct call to humility.” To quit comparing ourselves to others. To quit focusing only on ourselves. To open ourselves to other people. To admit that we need other people. To be vulnerable. Second, we are invited by Jesus into real relationships with real persons, giving of ourselves, receiving from the other. And in this we experience Jesus. And third, Jesus calls us to be transformed: to become like children. Children are attentive to the world and therefore experience curiosity, wonder, delight, and affection. They aren’t yet caught up in the ever-increasing rate of change in our social lives. They aren’t yet part of the rat race. Instead, their lives are full of the resonance we desire. They become our mentors as we learn how to live a better life, how to experience time for everything. What does the church need to do to minister faithfully and effectively in our current moment of spiritual crisis? His answer draws upon how Dietrich Bonhoeffer answered the same question in the time of crisis leading up to the Second World War and when he and his churches were contending with the Nazis. The answer is: to care for children. Because to focus on children is to escape the focus on our current time and to take a long view. The youngest among us will live for another century or more. What we do for them now—how we shape them and educate them and care for and love them will have lasting impacts long, long after most of us are gone. And if they also grow up caring for children and furthering those lessons, the time horizon for our ministry lifts beyond even one century. To care for our children also means we are drawn into relationships of wonder, affection, and delight, relationships of resonance and fullness, the obvious antidote to the experience of alienation, time fatigue, and spiritual crisis. A congregation that prioritizes caring for children is one that becomes more caring towards everyone and everything. We are spiritually shaped and transformed by our love of kids to become more loving people. Root concludes, “The ecstasy of witnessing eternity in time [in caring for children] will ignite the good life of giving and receiving ministry in the world.” So, if you want to transcend your current time and feel fully alive, the best gift any congregation has to offer you is a chance to care for children.