Last night I enjoyed facilitating a small group fellowship of parents from one of my churches. Our goal is to gather once a month for support, prayer, food, and conversation on the spirituality of children and youth. I particularly like that the group involves parents with children of all ages. We hope to add a few grandparents into the mix for good measure.
Our conversation centered on the Western concept of the division between the sacred and the secular. We tend to see Church as sacred, and the rest of our week as secular. God is in our worship, but not in our schools or our jobs or when we are washing the car. This perspective also drives the notion that our spirit and our body are separate entities, leading to an understanding of the body as non-spiritual. But scripture proclaims that this is not how the world works. God is not confined to the Temple. God is in the fire, the wind, the water, the clouds. God is a voice, God is in the elements of bread and vine. God works in and through other people. God is embodied in our physical world as much as God might be thought of as intangible spirit.
With this in mind, I invited the parents to brainstorm the common, everyday activities of their families lives and then to consider how these mundane actions might be seen as opportunities to embrace the sacred in life -- opportunities to experience God's spirit. The conversation that followed was rich and creative. Here are some of their ideas:
- Bathing - When showering, as you wash your feet think about how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and how he is sending you out as a servant, too.
- Eating - Take time before each meal to say a prayer of thanks. Make eating together a regular habit as a family and be aware of the gift of fellowship and community it affords. Invite others to share in the meal as a way to practice God's hospitality.
- Driving - Time in the car is a great opportunity for conversation. Ask your children to talk about where they saw God today. Invite them to focus on the needs of others by asking them how their teacher is or how the other children are doing at school.
Other routine activities might include: watching tv, working on the computer, caring for a pet, cooking, brushing teeth, going to bed. I think this could be a great activity to do with youth. Challenge them to come up a list of their daily routine activities and then work together to think about how they could become more intentional about finding God's love, presence, and healing in those activities. This sort of practice opens one to seeing the world as saturated with the sacredness of God. It can also help us to realize that even in the toughest situations in life, God is with us.