No one asks questions quite like a child does. I sometimes think their relentless questioning is one reason why it can be downright scary to volunteer to be a Sunday School leader. I remind my leaders that they are not required to have all the answers. It is perfectly okay to say, “That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer, but I am glad that we are here at church looking for the answer together.” My leaders have even been reported looking for clergy after church with their students to ask them what they think about a question that came up in class that day.
I keep a book on my desk that I pick up from time to time called “Will Our Children Have Faith?” Written by Rev. Dr. John H. Westerhoff III, I admit that I was drawn to it by the wonderful questioning title. Will they have faith? And equally important to me is what can we do as adults to help them? According to Westerhoff, “To be Christian is to ask: What can I bring to another? Not: What do I want that person to know or be? It means being open to learn from another person (even a child) as well as to share one’s understandings and ways.”
This last Sunday because of the special Jazz Mass instead of our usual Sunday morning programming, I led a story time with the children during the readings and sermon. To help me when I plan these occasional gatherings, I have found good resources that lead me to children’s books that are not necessarily religious or that tell Bible stories but still communicate ideas from the readings for the day. I have discovered some wonderful books written for children that have unexpectedly helped me to see complex ideas much more clearly. Preparing for this Transfiguration Sunday when Peter, James and John see Jesus in a way they never have before, I came across “They All Saw a Cat” by Brendan Wenzel. Wenzel introduces us to a cat and then proceeds to illustrate for the reader how different creatures perceive the cat. The dog sees a scared cat while the mouse sees a scary cat. The child sees a soft cat to pet while the fox sees dinner. The fish sees the cat magnified as it looks up at it through the water while the bird has an overhead view. The bee, bat and snake with their eyes that work so differently from ours see the cat in a much different way. And then there is the page that shows the cat as an integration of all the different viewpoints of all these varied creatures. To really see the cat is to take all the points of view into account. And of course, the reader is also asked to consider how the cat sees itself when it looks into the water.
From this simple children’s book, I finally understood why I find myself growing so much in my faith since I came to Redeemer. It is because of all of you. From the sermons to the offerings from my classmates in Wednesday morning Rector’s Bible Study to the conversations that I have when we stop to chat in the halls to what the children offer up when we are here learning together, those different perspectives come together to help me see. David said in his sermon last Sunday our lives are transfigured when we rise and die together. To that I would add and when we ask questions together. I hope to see you here during this season of Lent. What a perfect time to be in community and continue, young and old, to work out what it means to be a Christian together.