Thursday, November 06, 2008

How do we welcome and minister to the young?

(from Joy Perkett)
In light of the recent Christening at CWM, I feel moved to write and reflect on the Children's Ministry. What does it mean to promise to raise up children in the CWM community and how can we as a congregation do that best? Children's Ministry brings up a lot of relevant questions for the church. How do adults minister to children? How do we convey a full sense of welcome and inclusion to our children? What kind of atmosphere do we want to provide for our children? Moreover, how do children minister to us as adults? I would encourage everyone who reads this post to reflect on the issue, and if they feel it is relevant, comment and respond with their own thoughts.

In my opinion, I think there is a lot to be gleaned from the questions that children ask. Elie Wiesel writes that "Every question [possesses] a power that [does] not lie in the answer." Children and adults both ask very different questions and both perspectives are crucial in learning about and understanding God. The questions children ask often encourage adults to see things afresh or to ponder questions they have not thought about in depth. As Elie Wiesel says (the following is his quote, but made inclusive), "Humans raise themselves toward God by the questions they ask God." Well if that is the case, perhaps the best way to raise ourselves towards God is through a communion of the inquisitive minds of adults and children together. Let us never cease to learn from each other and let us never cease to ask questions!

Weekly Inqueery

As a way to generate conversation outside the church walls, I will be presenting a question each week, offering a few thoughts, and inviting all readers to respond with their own perspectives.

With the election on the mind, I ask, “What is the role of religion in politics? Can and should religion and politics remain separate?”

My first reaction is to say that it is impossible to maintain a distinct divide between religion and politics. The notion from the feminist movement that the political is personal and the personal is political suggests to me that religion – something so very personal – is intrinsically tied up with politics.

However, if political decisions are based upon religious convictions, it is possible – indeed likely – that freedom of religious and non-religious expression will be violated. The line between religion and politics is a complicated one to walk, and as an attempt to define that line, we have invented the concept of separation of church and state.

But if religion creeps into politics no matter how hard we try to keep them separate, what should be the role of religion in politics?

Is not the idea behind religion’s presence in politics that religion can be a motivating force in striving toward perfection (even though the political manifestations of this vary)? What about the Wesleyan concept of social holiness? Is this a bad thing?

I am not sure that a distinct divide between religion and politics can (or necessarily should) ever be maintained. For me, recognizing religion’s role in politics should urge people of faith back to debate in the religious arena. If people are making political decisions based upon religious beliefs, we are not going to come to consensus at the political level. We must engage with one another on the religious level, grappling together as people of faith over matters of religious tradition that impact the broader world.

But what do you all think?