March 4, 2009
Children and faith
The faith life of little ones is a joy to behold. They are so earnest, so trusting, so innocent. We're told that an imprint is most solidly made in those very first months and years of a child's life. That is why we at The Lutheran magazine are so excited about our own toddler, The Little Lutheran —now more than 1-1/2 years old. And we've added a sibling in January—The Little Christian —for all those whose godchildren or grandchildren aren't Lutheran, and for our ecumenical and full-communion partners.
We know little ones love to receive their own mail, too. What fun it is for them to receive their very own magazine. One grandmother subscribed for her granddaughter, who calls The Little Lutheran her "mail from Jesus." We hope that all the stories (some global stories, some Bible stories, some stories of saints living and dead), prayers, songs (with signing), rituals, activities and more will develop the faith lives of our smallest members. Many congregations use this magazine as a spiritual formation tool—in preschools, nurseries, Sunday school and in vacation Bible school. Some use it as an evangelism tool, sending it out into the community or giving it as a baptismal gift or baptismal anniversary gift. Other pastors use it for their children's sermons and some congregations add them to worship bags, so there's at least one new thing in the bag each month.
Does your congregation subscribe? How is it used? We'd love to hear stories about the use of this spiritual formation tool.
Little ones also are extremely curious. They latch onto new information and learn at an amazingly rapid pace. So it's important to nourish their brains and their faith lives as well as their bodies.
Last week I learned of a new book that expands the scope of older toddlers by exposing them to the Gbaya people who live in central Africa. Written by an ELCA pastor, Olin K. Sletto, God's Holy Breath teaches children about life and death from a new perspective. When a Gbaya baby is born, he or she receives God's Holy Breath. And when a loved one dies, their breath goes home to God's Holy Breath. The book is beautifully illustrated in brilliant colors by Ann Rezny.