Sophie has been wandering around the house singing, "All day, all night, angels watching over me my lord". When I found it in my Rise Up Singing you would've thought I had just announced that it would be her birthday for the next 2 months.
I'll be the first to admit that I have hang ups about religion. This is largely due to my own experiences with the exclusive, guilt inducing cliques from high school, the intolerance and hypocrisy that I see from so many Christians, and my own beloved Mennonite Church's stance on homosexuality... truly, I could go on and on.
My belief in God has never faltered, but I hadn't regularly attended church since I was 18 (unless you count Friday Mass at the Catholic Worker, so let's say 19). After Sophie was born I started church shopping, only to get discouraged by the fire and brimstone, the electrified services, the Big! Screen! with the songs and the preacher... so I kind of gave up. While that is exactly what some people love about worship, that's just not for me.
We found out about St. Michael's at a cocktail party (good omen) and we went the very next day. Soon after, Roy and I started taking communion. Now we kneel. We pray. We share the peace. We are enjoying the community and focused quiet that comes with church. And we are certainly enjoying the inclusive, peace-loving, Believe Out Loud church that we and our children will soon become members of.
Still, when my daughter brings home a Jesus Loves Me coloring book, my instinct is to shrink into a corner. And once a week, when she asks me about Jesus, what do I say?
This has been a cathartic exercise for me. I channel my dad who always focused on Jesus the teacher, not Jesus the savior. "Jesus was a rebel" I tell her. "He preached love and peace and tolerance and asked the rich to give away all of their things to the poor. And he was killed because of it." We sing "Jesus Christ" by Woody Guthrie and talk about justice, goodness, turning the other cheek.
In the past we've talked to Sophie about peace, but let's face it - it doesn't really come up. She's a good kid who doesn't fight with others. We don't talk about Israel or the Middle East. We don't talk about the killing of Bin Laden or the conflict so many of us felt at his death. So talking about Jesus is the perfect opportunity to instil the values of justice in my kind (and impressionable) little girl.
And it's a good reminder for me, too.