New parents are full questions, and while many of those questions are practical, like “What do I do if my baby has a fever?” or “How do I choose a good daycare?” sometimes parenthood can bring up questions about faith.
Christopher and his wife recently had a baby, and he has been thinking a lot about his spiritual journey and returning to the church in order to give his son the opportunity to experience and develop his own faith. Perhaps some of Christopher’s experiences, thoughts, and questions will be familiar to you.
Church is a mystery to kids
Christopher: When I was really young, like five years old, or maybe even younger, I would go to church and it was mysterious and strange to me. I remember at communion time watching everybody who had received their first communion go up and receive the Eucharist. There was always this tremendous mystery in that, you know, “What are people doing? What do they know that I don’t know?”But it makes an impression, especially the stories
C: Looking back I remember all of the stories, like when everybody returns to the tomb of Christ and the boulder is pulled back, I don’t remember if there’s really a boulder in the story, but in my memory I remember this big round boulder and Jesus is in a cave or something and it’s empty, there’s an empty shroud there. These things were all very vivid in my imagination. I heard these stories that had a sense of wonder to them, and they engaged my mind.
And the church building
C: I used to go to church twice a week so I would hear these stories over and over. I even remember at my church there were quotes from the Bible on the walls, one off to the right side of the altar read, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” That was very impressionable to me as a kid. I was very curious about it all.
Then the questions come
C: I guess one of my first disappointments in the church was my first communion. I was so excited that I was going to finally learn what this was all about and what they were doing. I was standing next to my father and when I took the Eucharist I didn’t know what to say, so I just said Amen like my father. I felt more confused than anything, and I didn’t feel like anything was answered. I thought I was going to get a bigger answer or learn something, but then it didn’t happen.
Still, the imagery sticks with you, and even the mystery
C: There’s this New Orleans artist, he’s a Honduran folk artist, and he did a painting of the crucifixion, which I bought and hung in my bedroom. My wife is like “Why in the world do we have a dead Jesus hanging in our bedroom?” but it’s because I feel something for the crucifixion, and I don’t entirely understand it.
And you wonder if it’s something you should tell your kids about
C: I wonder if I should maybe have my son baptized. The thought that my son might come to me some day and ask, “Who is Jesus?” that makes me sad. Shouldn’t he know? Shouldn’t he learn that? Or shouldn’t he have the chance to feel it? Because I did feel it once.
Which is a big conversation, if you think about it
C: Becoming a father kind of got me thinking more about maybe trying to find a church, but I never did and I’m not sure why. It’s a big thing; I mean what do I say? Forgive me God, I haven’t believed in 20 years? That’s a big conversation.
You wonder if it’s okay to take baby steps
C: A woman that my wife used to work with used to say, “You should come to my church!” And I never did, but that seems like a good baby step, to go to church with somebody you know, or maybe by yourself. I don’t know. I think that’s a nice baby step… to just go and see it again.But even baby steps seem big when you’re just learning to walk. We get it. If the child in your life is making you re-think some old questions, your local Episcopal church can help. Find one today!