Who Art in Heaven

During Lent (yes, I’m late writing this), we decided to teach the kids the Lord’s Prayer. It’s one of those things that comes up from time to time, and I figured they should learn it. We normally sing a hymn before dinner, but for several weeks, we said the Lord’s Prayer instead. And then we talked about it, focusing on one line each night.

Some interesting thoughts came out of those conversations. Petra said that God seemed more like a mother to her, because God created everything, and so we talked about gendered language and what it means to say that God is like an earthly parent at all.

We discussed the idea of Heaven, and what exactly that means–where is Heaven, who do we think is there, what’s all that about? We left a lot of space for the kids to express their own ideas, using language like, “Some people believe…” Silas asked me what I believe about Heaven and Hell, and I told him that I thought that thinking of them in a geographic way was probably not quite right. Despite not being raised Catholic, I went to Catholic school for fifth grade, and, although I don’t believe it had much of an influence on my faith journey, I remember that I adored the nun who taught our religion class. I found myself quoting her—”Heaven is eternal closeness with God, and Hell is eternal separation from God.” He said that he liked thinking of Heaven as being up in the sky with the space aliens, but he didn’t think that was really true.

Petra said that Heaven was “down in the ground with the worms and God,” because that’s where we bury people. An interesting interpretation. I didn’t even know she knew about burial; she’s never been to a funeral or even spent any time in a cemetery, as far as I know.

Silas said that his favorite line is, “Give us this day our daily bread,” but he wouldn’t say why. It’s straight-forward enough, and he does eat all the time, so I imagine that had much to do with it. Petra’s favorite line was the same as mine—”For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” She likes the glory.

And now I’m looking forward to the next time when we use it in church (it doesn’t happen all that often). I love seeing them making connections and recognizing stuff. They are getting big enough to participate in worship a bit, and I’m trying to give them the tools that will let them be part of it in a meaningful way.

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