We should be charitable, contribute to our communities, and teach our children by example to do these things. I know this, and I’ve been reminded of it lately by a young parent who is figuring out how to go about being a good example.
Today, at age 74 and 10 months, I am contributing to my community through my church, a sister church, and Lions Club. I am being charitable by mailing checks to groups I believe are helping others and by giving out food through my church.
But I confess that when I was a parent of young and teen-age children, I was not doing these things, so I was not setting a good enough example. I was a college teacher in a state college where I taught as my contribution to the lives of my students and to making this a better world, but I don’t know that my sons saw it that way. We went to church, and people gave their offerings, but our church was not as engaged in helping others in the community as it is today, even though the congregation was bigger and younger. Individuals served Habitat and a local food bank, and one member served on the school board, but, as far as I knew, that was about it.
So, what can I say, with authenticity, to the young parent who wants to serve his community, help the poor, and teach his children to do the same?
I still believe that the tradition of worshipping God in church is a very important thing for children to experience. Hearing about it is not the same as living it. When you hear about it instead of participating, you don’t get the stories and the songs that stay with you for life, or the comforting ritual, repeated every Sunday, teaching how to pray and worship so one doesn’t have to invent it oneself when in need.
But just going to church is not enough.
It strikes me that one way to have community, charity, and worship at once would be to find a church that does service to the community and become a part of it. It wouldn’t be necessary to go every Sunday, though it’s worthy of the effort. It wouldn’t be necessary to hold an office or participate in every single activity. But if the family can find a church where the worship service seems authentic and comfortable and where there are simple, direct ways of helping others that children can see and eventually participate in, this would be a good step in the direction of serving and teaching one’s children to serve. The activities of helping others, along with the Bible stories and songs to sing, would give the children memories to last forever.
We can’t attend church normally now, let alone join a church, while the Covid-19 virus is still a threat. But we will be able to within the next year. If you are ready to think about it, the time between now and then could be spent looking online and talking to others to find a church that will be nice to join and that helps others in the community.
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