Monday, January 14, 2013

the importance of wondering

I serve as a part time children's ministry coordinator at our church. Today's post comes from the feature story of yesterday's newsletter I sent out to parents, teachers and helpers. I hope reading it will help you embrace the practice of wondering. -Troy

Consider these words from Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book Man is Not Alone: "The greatest hindrance to knowledge is our adjustment to conventional notions, to mental clichés. Wonder or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is, therefore, a prerequisite for an authentic awareness of that which is."

Recently, I had the opportunity to present Godly Play (one of the curricula we use at Grace Church) to a group of students at North Park Seminary. In a debrief after presenting a sample Godly Play session one of the students commented that aspects of the story were like "splinters in the mind." That is, ideas were placed within the mind of the listener that didn't make sense at first but would be worked out later, even into adulthood.

Consider Jesus' parables: most often he simply told his parable while providing no explanation. Today these parables still serve as "splinters in the mind" of Jesus' followers and yet consider how crucial they are to our spiritual growth!

As we grow older we too often lose our sense of childlike wonder. If we provide children space to truly wonder about the stories of Scripture they will make associations we would never think of.

Last week in the Sunday School class I taught, we wondered about the story of Jesus talking with the teachers in the temple when he was a boy. The story stated that Jesus loved to hear "the great teachers tell the stories of God." As we wondered about the story I pointed out the "stories of God" that surrounded the children in the room on the shelves outlining our worship circle. I asked them, "I wonder if Jesus had a favorite story? I wonder if one of these stories could have been Jesus' favorite?"

The children looked at the shelves containing objects that related a broad sweep of key stories from the Old Testament.

One of the children pointed at the Tabernacle and said, "I think this was Jesus' favorite!"

I wondered why, what was so special about that story. We wondered together if, perhaps, the ark that went inside the Tabernacle was what made that story so special. Then, I wondered if that same ark were in the Temple in Jesus' day.

Yes, a splinter in the mind. We did not answer the question right then. The children just wondered about it together.

Later, we wondered together how Jesus traveled from Nazareth to Jerusalem. The kids knew: he walked.

I asked, "I wonder if Jesus was happy or sad walking all that way?"

And one child answered, "Happy."

"Now, I wonder why he would be happy walking all that way?" I asked.

 "Because that meant he had more time to pray," she answered.

 And that was a splinter in my mind: why do I take so little time to pray and when I do pray, why do I not feel happier?

 I invite you to enjoy wondering this week. Take time to follow roads you wouldn't normally consider.

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