"Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian faith and life?" "Will you by your prayers and witness help this child to grow into the full stature of Christ?" The celebrant asks the parents and godparents these two questions when they present a child for baptism. The parents answer them saying, "I will with God’s help.
These questions and promises recognize the reality that parents carry the primary responsibility of growing faith in, and with, children. This is nothing new. The words that following the shema in Deuteronomy of the Hebrew Scripture command us to recite our faith and tell it to our children.
We began this morning at Kanuga with these promises and by recognizing the importance of faith formation in the home. The reality is Sunday School teachers see children for just one or two hours a week. It is in the rhythm of daily life at home and at school that children learn about who they are and who God is. Parents are the primary teachers. So, we shared family rituals that inform and form the faith in our families~daily devotions, a blessing cup, family covenants and intentional times for thanksgiving and intercession. Having caring conversations, telling stories, and intentionally recognizing one another as God’s people opens our eyes and the eyes of our children to God’s daily presence in our lives. We will bring these treasures home to share with our parents.
I am pleased to see that the resolutions being considered during the triennium also recognize the primary role of parents in faith formation.
The Resolution on the Rites of Passage asks the General Convention to offer opportunities to ask for God’s blessings and offer that blessing to the Christian community during times of significant change. These opportunities are in the form of additional prayers and rites of passage in the Book of Occassional Services. The prayers provide the words to help parents recognize developmental moments for their children: becoming a big brother or sister, starting a school year, earning a driver’s license, and graduating from high school.The rites of passage are liturgies to be celebrated during worship. The Rite of Passage for Young People and Their Parents affirms and upholds young people as they grow and mature and continues to reaffirm the important work of parenting. Two other proposed rites for young people include the celebration of a significant birthday and the declation of the intention for marriage. Truly, faith formation is a lifelong process. The resolution also offers prayers and rites for transitions in midlife and transitions of elders.
These prayers and rites recognize God’s abiding grace in our lives and that much of our formation happens in the home and through daily life.
Tomorrow, I will continue to present other resolutions relating to children, youth, and formation. See you then! ~Jenifer Gamber