Armodoxy for Today: Children & Religion
It is interesting to me that as adults we want to impose on our children systems that have not worked for us. Jesus, turns the tables on that discussion, as he usually does, by calling a child as the example of what he wanted to see in us all.
We read in Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Children are pure, but we know that purity can soon be diluted and corrupted. It seems there are more opportunities and quicker means by which children can be corrupted today. And so, we create ways of passing on knowledge to our kids. The challenge for us, is not to lose track of our goal. I have heard many well-intentioned teachers of scripture do so in literal terms. For instance, presenting the story of Noah’s Ark as literal truth, will certainly backfire when the children ask simple questions like, “What do you mean everyone was so bad that God flooded the world? What about the child that was born the night before, was she evil too?” Instead, the stories of the Old Testament are there to be used as metaphors and templates for some basic truths, such as God has rules and regulations.
The best lessons we can give children is given not with words but by action. When children see their parents and teacher live the life they preach, a greater lesson cannot be learned.
At the Armenian Monastery at Geghart, there is a room to light candles, as there is in all the monasteries. In these rooms are large trays holding sand, where people can light candles of prayer, reminding them of the Light that comes from Christ. At Geghart, however, they have a few of these candle areas that are only a few feet above the ground, making them accessible by children. Right next to their parents, children have an opportunity to stop, light a candle and begin a habit that they will carry with them through their lifetime. These habits are the way traditions are born.
The easiest and most meaningful lessons in life are those which are passed along sincerely.
We pray a prayer by Archbishop Hovnan, “Lord, my God, Your light shines upon me this morning. I lift up my heart to You and with Your blessings I walk to school to enlighten my mind and soul and to become a kind student. Lord, bless me day and night and I promise to live a meaningful life for your glory. Amen.”