Monday, February 21, 2011

Children and Church

I was taught that it was a sin not to sit on Sunday with God, and that the only place to find Our Father was in a church. It didn't much matter where I was, I had to find a church to attend. This had nothing to do with having a church family; it had to do with the rituals of religion. I was also taught that we were not meant to read our own Bibles because we weren't enlightened enough to understand what the words meant. Only the priests had that privilege.

Our parents doled out severe punishment for skipping the sacred services, so Sunday became a day of penance rather than a day of prayer. As I grew older, I began to search for something more in spiritual living. I began to read sacred scriptures from many religious perspectives, but still hadn't been introduced to the idea that I may be able to obtain enlightenment. Because I had children, I began looking for a church home, but I never found a good fit.

Much of my inability to feel at home in church had to do with the one-sidedness of the services. I often found nothing enriching or enlightening in the impersonal explanations of what the Bible supposedly said. All the ritual made me very nervous because it allowed for no variation and no questions. But the straw that broke my camel's back was the insistence on separating me from my children during the service because my children were thought to be either too young to understand the adult service or too distracting to other adults by virtue of their activity. I had one day a week to be with the greatest blessings in my life, and I was supposed to spend that day listening to lifeless lessons with people in whom I had no investment. I thought not. I didn't need any family that didn't want my children to be with me.

My way of worship was to celebrate every moment that I could be with my babies, preferably enjoying the bountiful beauty of nature. Where was that part of Sacred Scripture? Why wasn't I hearing about the absolutely divine grace that comes from watching love in action in families and friendships?

This blog is about finding those voices that experience the divine in everyday life. This is what I want in a faith family, not dogma and disrespect for the families of other faiths. Sacred Scripture, in my opinion, is every word written (or spoken) celebrating the gifts of Creation, including the gift of turning our pain into passion for a more Holy and just people.


  1. My Faith Community

    Throughout my adult life, I have been blessed with membership in the various faith communities of several synagogues in Louisiana, Florida and Kentucky. I have been fortunate to experience the rich variety of worship styles, music and social action projects offered at each institution.
    Best of all, I have been able to participate in faith communities that have walked the walk of their teachings, establishing centers of prayer, learning and cooperation within and without their walls. It isn’t always easy, or fun, or happy. Some participation came with great pain and at a great personal cost. But, through these associations, I have decided what is important to me in becoming part of a new faith community.
    This was brought home at my daughter’s baby shower yesterday. The happy occasion brought together family members and friends that spanned three generations of women (four, if you count my yet-to-be-born granddaughter) to share in the joy of upcoming birth. Several women are part of our synagogue community, where my husband and I have been members for less than a year. Our daughter and son-in-law joined about three years ago.
    Of course, excitement and happiness permeated the room, as we ate, laughed, played silly games and “oohed” and “ahhed” as my daughter opened each lovely gift. Later, I realized that although the group represented both Jewish and Christian streams of religious thought, we are bound as a community of women – some who are mothers and grandmothers, and all who are daughters. This is a sacred connection to be shared, as we exchanged bits of wisdom about being – and raising – children.
    To me, an ultimate act of faith is the conscious decision to make children part of one’s family. Witnessing the love that surrounded our family yesterday, feeling especially the literal and symbolic embraces of new friends, lifted me to a very happy place. I know that my new granddaughter will be part of a very special faith community.

  2. "an ultimate act of faith is the conscious decision to make children part of one’s family."
    I agree with that statement, whether the child is adopted or born into the families of faith.

    What a blessing and a responsibility it is to be lent an innocent soul to protect, nurture, and guide in the ways of peace and productivity.

    This child will be fortunate indeed to be surrounded by a community that includes you and your family.

    You are a true yenta, not in the derogatory sense that has come to mean a meddlesome person, but in the sense that you use your amiability, class, and gentle ways to draw all into a family of peace.

    Yiddish yente, back-formation from the woman's name Yente, alteration of Yentl, from Old Italian Gentile, from gentile, amiable, highborn, from Latin gentlis, of the same clan; see gentle.

    You are a busy body, in the most wonderful sense of the expression. The world would be a poorer place without your "energizer bunny" contributions.