Who am I?
of Who am I? and Who is God? Are the most fundamental ones a child
can ask. As parents and teachers, how we understand the nature and
character of God and communicate it to children will have a significant
impact on their spiritual formation.
on your own early image of God . (You may want to look at the exercises
in the Congregation InFormation packet.) Who helped form that image?
Chances are that it was a parent, grandparent, or Sunday School
teacher. What did that image teach you to expect from God? What
did it mean that God expected from you?
For some of
us, God was a being who demanded good behavior, and was angry if
when we failed to live up to high standards. Although the Bible
does use the image of God as Righteous Judge, if that is the only
image (or one of the few) that we share with children, we have presented
an incomplete, distorted, and ultimately de-forming image that children
will have to un-learn if they are ever to relate to God as loving,
nurturing, protecting, and forgiving.
a more natural affinity for prayer than most adults-they have less
religious baggage, fewer distractions, and an ability to let go
of control. Children can be encouraged to imagine God with a rich
variety of concrete biblical images (rock, fortress, shepherd, Father)
and abstract ones (light, Word, love). They can also take images
from their own experience (friend, mentor) and use the best of those
things to help imagine what God is like. As adults we may have learned
to say one thing about God ("God is love") while actually
believing another (God is keeping track of my wrong-doings). Children
haven't learned to dissemble in this way: how they imagine God will
shape how they see themselves and how they pray. As a parent or
teacher, you may be the face of God to a young child, a reminder
that "the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Matthew
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