This is printed on the front page of the bulletin each week at Our Saviour Lutheran Church:
It is a delight and a privilege to have children in the service. Children as much as adults are members of God’s family and Jesus welcomes little children to Him.
There is a Sunday School for children during the sermon. The children leave at the beginning of the sermon and return to church before the Service of the Sacrament.
Please do not worry if your child will not sit still or quietly throughout the service. Most young children won’t manage that! There is plenty of space at the back of the room. If you do need to take a child outside, the smaller room is available for that purpose.
In today’s catechism class, a ten-year-old put her hand up to ask the following question
Have you noticed that God never does anything for Himself but always for others?
There you have it!
This morning, the teacher of the Sunday school at my congregation reported the following conversation she had with one of the children, a 6-year-old boy:
Teacher: Why do we read so many different stories about Jesus in Sunday school?
Boy: So that we get to know Jesus.
T: What do you mean?
B: Not just know about Jesus, but to get to know Him.
Couldn’t put it better myself!
How often do people — both Christians and non-Christians — criticise the notion that being a Christian is about holding certain facts about Jesus in your head, rather than, say, living a certain kind of life? And often they do it with considerable justification, when theologians, individual Christians, and whole churches reduce the Christian faith to the facts of the faith. To knowing about Jesus.
The key to being a child of God is not knowing about Jesus, but knowing Him. What in some circles is called a “personal relationship with Jesus”.
However, this relationship with Jesus is not distinct from facts about a person. No sensible person would go about human relationships that way. Can you imagine it? “I don’t know the slightest thing about my fiancée. For me that’s not important. What matters to me is to know her.” What sort of odds would a marriage based on that sort of foundation get from a bookie, I wonder.
No, the aim is to get to know Jesus. But we only get to know Him by finding out about Him. As we read and hear about Jesus speaking and acting, we get to know Him as He is. The dogmaticians have referred to these two facets of the faith fides qua and fides quae, the “faith which” is believed, and the “faith by which” one believes. The former informs and creates the latter, the latter receives what the former states.
As Martin Luther might have put it: Thank God that even a six-year-old child knows what the proper relationship between propositional truth and personal faith is!