Friday, January 17, 2014

Fairness and Grace

Last night, a small group from Mission Bay Community Church met in my home to eat dinner and study the biblical story of two sisters - Mary and Martha.

You can find the whole story here: Luke 10:38-42. The basic storyline is that Jesus comes to visit their house and one sister Mary sits at his feet and listens while the other sister Martha is busy cleaning the house and providing hospitably to Jesus. When Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping her, Jesus tells her to stop worrying and busying herself. He says Mary has chosen the "better part" by listening to him.

It's a beautiful and important reminder to put Jesus first and for all of us busy/productive people to slow down and prioritize. It also doesn't seem fair. Martha was doing all the things culturally expected of her to prepare for and value the guest and Mary just sat there.

We want Jesus to be concerned with fairness. And yet, Jesus concerns himself with grace.

The more we talked about the story, the more other stories like this came to mind - the story of the Prodigal Son, the Workers who worked different amounts and yet all were paid the same, Jesus's persecution and suffering.... you know, none of those stories seem very fair either.

Perhaps it is our expectations for what we define as "justice" or "fair" that are the problem.
Perhaps our feelings of entitlement and desire for recognition get in the way of our being good people and sharing God's justice and grace.

I left our small group knowing I need to resist my tendency to compare, criticize and want my fair share in order to give and receive grace and love. In order to really put God first.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

10 Ways To Share Faith With Children

Sharing our faith with others can be hard. Sharing our faith with children who are at a different developmental stage than us can seem really hard. Here are a few simple ways to reach out to children and share your faith with them. 

(1) Pray with them.
Help them know God is available to them anytime through prayer. Pray out loud together, encouraging them to pray, too.

(2) Read scripture together.
They'll notice if you read your Bible and they'll want to do the same. Set time aside to read a Children's Bible together.

(3) Worship together.
Children learn by observing those around them. Help them know what to expect next in worship and get them involved in the music and the prayers. Make sure they have a front row seat and can observe all that is happening around them.

(4) Be honest about life and death.
Young children are concrete thinkers. They see bugs die and grieve over pets that die. Share with them that death is a natural part of life.

(5) Welcome questions as they grow.
Children are wonderfully curious! Encourage their questions and explore answers together.

(6) Model Jesus' love in action. 
Take children with you to serve the community. Bring them to care for others in the community. Help them see what it means to love others as Jesus loves them.

(7) Reassure your child that God's love is unconditional.
The song "Jesus Loves Me" says it well: "Jesus loves me when I'm good, when I do the things I should. Jesus loves me when I'm bad though it makes him very sad."

(8) Don't try to correct them.
Children experience God in all sorts of beautiful ways. Their understanding of God will change as they develop. Ask what they think about God and explore the mystery together. They may even have something to teach you!

(9) Allow them to notice the injustice in the world.
Our world is an unfair place. Allow children to notice the unfairness and talk together about how we can help. Pray together about the injustice they see.

(10) Pray for them.
This is the most important. Pray for the children in your household, in your community, in the world. Pray that God might work through you to share Christ's love with them.

*Written with LOTS of help from my mom, Rev. Dr. Genie Martin, who has a huge heart for children in the church.