As we grow in our faith and understanding one practice is often overlooked. I suspect it is because learning how to do it well involves an immense amount of trial and error as the target moves and shifts. I also suspect that our failures, personal and corporate, make us shy to even try again. I am speaking of teaching our children and grandchildren about the faith.
Psalm 145 says, One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts (v.4). The psalm itself is just such an act, the telling of the work of God, an example of how to honour and worship God with thanks and praise. Still, I cannot help but notice the call on one generation to share the story, to move it forward to another generation is often met with a shrug or “we tried that before…”
Advent, and then Christmas, is as good a time as any to take part in this practice. As we teach our children that Die Hard is a great Christmas movie (and Home Alone, and Nailed it!) are must see items at this time of year. Or, if you are a different generation maybe you prefer Miracle at 34th Street and the like. Maybe it is the play at church, or candy canes on the tree or some ritual that your family always practices at Christmas. The point is Christmas is a time loaded with symbols, rituals and meanings. Are we making sure that there is space for the Divine in the season? Are we seeing to it that this is an opportunity to share the faith with another generation amidst the tinsel?
Where does sacred ritual and story fit in our traditions? How do we commend the works of God from generation to generation at this time of year? How do we declare the Lord’s mighty acts?
I would suggest a posture of thanksgiving is a place to start. Giving thanks for anything that you can think of, showing delight in people and places and events and sharing that with the people we share the season with.
A posture of Awe is good too: being amazed about what is around us, the natural world getting quiet, the toys, spices, lights. The ease of communication across distances, taking glee in what is perhaps a bit mundane except to those with eyes to see, like when our boys start talking with utter seriousness and authority about how black holes work (they have no idea). Sharing and spreading awe is a joy, let’s make it ok to be impressed with people, places, nature, and whatever else might catch our eyes this year.
Taking on the role of storyteller: finding the Christ child, and themes of grace, charity, forgiveness, peace, love, and joy in the various stories and movies and songs that percolate at this time of year, making sure we winsomely share what we notice with the next generation so that they notice more than the flashy, the saccharine, or the easy, but understand the sense of duty, sacrifice, and sharing.
However you choose to do it, make no mistake about, if we are Christians it is up to us to commend [the works of God] to another, and shall declare [His] mighty acts.