Last night, after a busy day of bike riding in the heat, the family was laying around the living room chatting and having a little “screen time.” My daughter, age 9, found a funny little emoticon—a maniacal smiley face with flames coming out of its head. “Mom,” she said, “use this for Pentecost!”
We laughed together at the silliness of the emoticon, and I thought to myself, “This poor pastor’s kid. She sees something biblical in everything.”
And while this perhaps is a product of being the pastor’s kid—to see biblical references in everything—I really don’t think it is a bad thing. Our story is an extension of the biblical story. And in all stories there are themes that arise, and common threads that hold them together. Hard times and trials in my life bring me back to Job, and Job and I wrestle together with the big question of “Where is God in suffering?” When the bulbs in my front yard bloom and the wisteria resumes her winding trail around my front porch, I marvel at the wonder of nature, and I’m reminded of resurrection. And when I feel the presence of God in the occasional stillness, I think of Elijah hearing the voice of God, not in the wind or fire, or earthquake, but in the stillness.
Phylis Tickle talks frequently about the need for families to teach the biblical story at home, to incorporate it into our everyday lives. She suggested a daily bible story at mealtime, or colored linen napkins to reflect the season of the church. While those things don’t happen in our home, we do have a tradition of asking questions at meal time. Some of my favorite questions are:
“What is the weirdest story in the bible?”
“What Bible character are you most like today?”
Those answers change and evolve as they learn more about the Bible.
Another thing we do is talk about whatever text I’m preaching on for the week. I ask them what they would do if they were Jesus and someone asked to be healed, or if they were Peter, and Jesus told them to walk on water. The answers often surprise me—they become fuel for my sermons, but more than that, they give me opportunities to marvel at the simple, deep wisdom of my children’s honest answers.
These questions and scenarios keep us talking and engaging with each other at dinner, but they do something even bigger than that—they embody the biblical story. We know the stories because we feel them, we relate to them, we connect them with our own lives. And in sharing these stories, they become more than just a story. They become truth. We have walked down the same paths that the biblical characters have walked, and they are showing us—in their good and bad behaviors—the ways we are called to live. It becomes more than just a nice little story—it becomes a light in the darkness, witness to the goodness of God, as we struggle to make sense of our lives (as adults or children).
In whatever way you can, bless your children with the gift of the biblical stories, so that they can see the work of God in everything, from the silly to the mundane.