The older boys begin the PRAY program for grades 6-8 this week. This program begins to teach them what their roles as part of the Church might be. The reciprocal role of everyone in the church community to and for and with one another.
This level of the PRAY program has the kids exploring the Bible as sacred text. The Bible to help inform their lives. To help them find peace and comfort, love and courage, and to be challenged to become who they are meant to be.
Bible stories echo our own lives and we bring our own stories to the stories, so the way we read the Bible, or any sacred text, will come with our own “flavor” and needs. Individual needs and community needs.
I’m really discovering that the more I know, the less I know, and the more (most of the time) able I am to settle into the not-knowing and the bigger Mystery. I don’t always have the answers and others don’t always have the answers for me…
And it’s okay. It’s okay.
The point is a conversation around each story. Different stories and different interpretations make for a deeper conversation. PAUSE. To understand the Mystery. To understand one another on the path.
Not-knowing is a place we don’t like to be, but coming back to that beginner/child’s mind is a gift. And learning with the kids is a great place to be and I want us to first be okay with saying: I don’t know and/or let’s explore together. What do you think? Like it’s a Quest to the Questions. Not to get to an Answer, but to find answers.
The story is the same, but it’s not.
Here we are, together, exploring the Bible, together, with the children. It might be a nice time to pull out your own Bibles and explore. It grows with us and changes for us. Things we thought we knew change. I’m fascinated by what’s oral tradition that isn’t in the Bible, but we think is in the Bible or remember being in the Bible (memory is a tricksy thing). I’m fascinated by how we take four very different gospels and mesh them together to create a cohesive whole story and each of our stories is different and yet the same. Maybe that’s very much like life.
I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about the Bible. It grows with us.
So, here’s what the kids are talking about in this first leg of the Journey.
The boys are looking at how Jesus is Human and why that’s important.
Here are a couple of ways of looking at Jesus. These ways (and everything in between) remind us that our interpretations may be different. This is good to remember when we’re talking with kids. They are probably better able to grasp these differences with their more open minds if we allow them. One of our most important Questions for the kids asking them what they think? Helping them explore and really be okay with questioning.
1. Jesus is fully divine. God on earth.
2. Jesus is divine and human. Jesus IS God and walks with us as human for a time.
3. Jesus is human and divine, but no more divine than the rest of us. Jesus simply (simply) connected through prayer and contemplation to serve the needs of his world/time over self. We are all just as capable of being just as divine.
4. This last, I’m going to paraphrase a way I heard it: “Jesus is a really cool guy, who did really cool things and is worthy of emulating”. I know that might be jarring, but if we allow ourselves to listen, it’s not so different. He’s like our other saints, mystics, leaders, persons…
And…there is everything in between and around the above. The nuances. We have to be okay with believing differently even about our own shared book. None of us is “right”, it’s faith.
A few weeks back we talked about how it’s not as important to be right about Jesus, but to practice being like Jesus. But we can get stuck here, having conversations (or arguments) about who Jesus really was and what the Bible really says (or means). And these can be great conversations, but we can’t get stuck here.
This is how we get stuck in our heads and emotions and nothing gets done. There’s no doing. There’s no practice. We can get angry and upset and divisive and forget…Love. PAUSE.
So, it’s not who’s right, because the great things about Faith is it’s based on faith. No one knows and we all have different experiences informing our relationship to Grace, the divine, and the words.
Why is it important for Jesus to be human? These are things for each of us to think about. Perhaps one of the kids will ask you…
Maybe it’s just so that we have someone to talk to/connect to that understands us in a way that a fully divine God can not. Like a friend.
Maybe it’s so that Jesus is not above us, or better than us, but that he’s like us and so we actually have a chance to practice being like Jesus, like Grace, like God. We can be like Jesus. Truly, because he was just as human as us.
And, as we all know, here as adults on the human journey. We know suffering. And because Jesus was human, he too knows the human suffering. He understands us and our pain. We understand his human suffering and pain. We feel the passion and can act with compassion.
Compassion for Jesus and for one another. We can more effectively be walked with and walk with. The suffering is different, but pain is the same. We learn to practice compassion, walking with one another through our own suffering. We learn to “suffer with”.
Our pain and suffering is so important for human and spiritual growth. We learn from it. We all have pain. It’s part of the human experience. Jesus suffered on a deep level and through that, we together can walk with Jesus on a journey of Compassion.
Being human brings us together. Jesus knows us and we can better know him through his humanity. We understand being thirsty, hungry, tempted, angry, irritable, even violent, tired, sad, hurt. We can find it in the Bible. We can find it in our stories.
The story loses something if Jesus is not in some way…like us. Or very much like us. Walking the path of Jesus loses something if he is not human with us and like us. It’s not as powerful. If he’s fully divine, it’s too easy for us to give up and believe he walks a path impossible for us to also walk.
Jesus must be human to understand what it is to be human to lead us to become better humans ourselves.
Regardless of our bigger beliefs in these coming weeks, may we connect with a Jesus who is fully human and walks with us and beside us and before us on the human journey of joy and love, pain and suffering. A man who teaches us to walk with Grace in thought, in word, and in actions.
Send a Post Card: Send the kids a post card this week telling them a story about Jesus as human. Consider what you might say to kids about Jesus as human. Maybe how Jesus helped you because of his humanity? Perhaps what comforting human stories about Jesus do you remember being told as a kid yourself (or maybe you made them up yourself)? What lullabies or tales his mom would tell him when he needed comforting as a kid? What kind of friends did he have as a kid? What sports he might have played or instrument? What games or books he would have liked? What jokes would he have laughed at? What Joys and Concerns would he have prayed for as a kid? What do you think about Jesus as human and like us (especially like us as kids) that you might want to share with the kids?
Hint: Have fun with this. It doesn’t have to be Biblical or “true”, just true for you. Stories that might be helpful for kids learning about Jesus and how to be comforted by or be like Jesus. Please try to keep them simple and kind…we’ll be talking about the “deeper stuff” later. Let’s set a foundation of simple and kind and fun.
(please send your post cards to the church and I will be sure to share with the kids; I will not be giving out kids addresses)