How we talk about God.


“The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a parochial school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples, over which the teacher had written a sign that said, “Take only ONE. God is watching.” Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of warm chocolate chip cookies. And over this plate, a child had written a note: “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”  Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.


Theology is a daunting kind of a word. It conjures up university lectures and large dust covered books filled with long words. But theology is the study of God. And we do theology all the time.  
We do theology every time we talk about God
Every time we ask, ‘I wonder what that means?’ when we open the Bible. Every time we ask 'Why?' Every time we witness miracle or mystery. Theology is not reserved for those with bookshelves filled with NT Wright and Hebrew textbooks.We are theologians, and our children are too. We each bring something to these conversations; our questions, our doubts and our thoughts on faith, God and the meaning of life. And we are shaped by each others contributions. 

Our children both contribute to the theological task and are shaped by it.  They bring something unique to the conversation, which shouldn’t surprise us because Jesus told us they did. Take notice of these children, they will tell you something about the kingdom you know (my paraphrase of Mark 10). Children have plenty to say about the Bible and faith and the meaning of life.  

While much space is devoted in books and blogs to answering children's questions, it is important to recognise that children may also help adults to answer our questions. 

Let’s create spaces to listen carefully to what they say.
Children are also shaped by the way we talk about God. Do they hear us saying that God is some cosmic policewoman on the watch to punish us if we take too many apples?  What a challenge! Even if we don’t consider ourselves theologians that is in fact who we are. We talk about God. We try and figure out how faith works in the context of our everyday lives. We come to the Bible with lots of questions and our own ideas of what it all means. We are theologians.

Are we striving then to ‘do’ good theology? How are we allowing ourselves to be shaped by children as well as those who carry the title 'theologian'? What books or blogs are we reading? What conversations are we having? Who are we having these conversations with? Are we opening up these conversations or are we closing them down with simplistic or unhelpful answers? 

Let us take as many apples as we like because God is not only watching, God is present with us in our conversations. God joins in with us, breathing life through the Spirit into our words and our thoughts and actions. Which should come as encouraging news to those of us who feel inadequate.

PS: God hangs out around warm chocolate chip cookies too!




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