By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
I used to think questions related to doubt were saved for high school, maybe junior high at the earliest. But a few years ago, a three year-old declared with confidence, “that’s not a true story,” after we talked about the biblical story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000.
Kids face doubt. One child faced doubt because an important prayer request to God did not have the outcome he expected. Another child faced doubt because pop culture’s one-note battle between science and religion meant she felt she had to choose between what she was learning in school and what she trusted about God learned in church (kids are now coming to Christine to talk about this, much to her delight: her door’s open!). And, as children get older, some feel pressure from friends who live secular lives who claim faith is foolish at best. Even when a parent tried to empathize with their child’s doubts, the child said in return: but I’m more skeptical than you, Dad.
Thankfully, we are a community that makes room for doubt, whether you’re 9 or 89 years old. Trusted 20th century theologian Paul Tillich affirms, “Faith embraces faith and doubt, and such a faith does not need to be afraid of the free search for ultimate reality.” We boldly welcome the freedom that comes when we profess doubt as a part of our faith journey. And, thankfully, the bible is full of person after person who doubted first, or doubted often (Thomas’ nickname is the Doubter): biblical and real-life doubters model doubt as part of a life of faith.
Part of what we’re trying to do in Children’s Ministry these days is to create a community of children who are surrounded by caring adults and young adults—people who can model the real-life cycles of faith, doubt and return to faith. And, if you’ve been through this yourself, you know that doubt can be cyclical, or maybe it’s just around an issue or two. We need your honest, authentic voices in the midst of our children, so they can know what robust, complicated, life-long faith looks like. In faith and in doubt, we’re glad you’re part of this community.
Prayer for Before Trick-Or-Treating
Almighty God, in whom is no darkness at all:
Grant me your light perpetually,
and when I cannot see the way before me,
may I continue to put my trust in you;
that so, being guided and guarded by your love,
I may be kept from falling,
this day and all my days,
through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
–By William Knight, Printed in Prayers for all Occasions, Forward Movement
This and other Prayers for Halloween are found at Building Faith