The gold-framed Guardian Angel picture followed my maternal grandparents to every home they lived in. They moved from the coal mines of West Virginia to Virginia to Florida then back to Virginia. They also kept a huge, white family Bible on the coffee table. These are the images I recall from my childhood related to their faith.
In Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes To Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God, Voddie Baucham, Jr. speaks of marking the home as God’s territory. He shares the memory of his Buddhist mother. Her regular practice of that belief system involved all five senses: a black lacquer box in the corner of their dining room, a statue of Buddha, a scroll of strange writing, incense, fruit, beads, and a small gong or bell. Those images remain with him to this day even though she became a Christian within six months of his conversion.
“Imagine the impact that Moses’ teaching had on the children of Israel in the Promised Land.” God’s people were entering a new land with new smells, sights, sounds, tastes, yet were expected to retain their distinction as followers of the one true God. How? Marking their doorposts, celebrating annual feasts with bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and the stories. Oh, the stories, the stones, the Sabbath practices, the music, and so much more.
My BFF-in-the-Lord just set up her new office space with bright yellow chairs and throw rugs to cover floor stains. She has stuffed animals (you know, the holy stuffed animals like sheep, donkey, lamb, plush Jesus which are staples for family faith experiences) on shelves and filled a wall with pictures of remarkable moments with the people of God she has served alongside. Visual reminders of creative, innovative, hard, hilarious moments in time where she served her families in ministry with great zeal and joy. She has marked her space as the Lord’s.
How can we regularly and intentionally mark our spaces and places for the Lord? At home? At church? At work? Sticky faith formation experiences engaging all five senses.
“There was a period in history when anyone who wanted to be considered a serious painter, a grand master, painted biblical themes.”
At this week’s Faith Milestone: Bread & Juice Class, we’ll pull out the jumbo framed picture of Da Vinci’s Last Supper for our kindergarten and first grade students to stand behind for their class photo.
“Music is an incredible medium. With a few notes we can be transported to another time and place.”
Preparing for this week’s S’more Jesus Late Night with our 3rd-5th graders, we prepared a Spotify playlist with camp songs. Sent it out ahead of time to the leaders and the children.
Dr. Richard Hunter offered a sermon based on his daughter’s favorite song, at the time, Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying at my home church. There are some messages super sticky because of a song.
“There is no such thing as Christian food.” Well, I beg to differ.
I recall a young pastor at my home church who prepared a summer sermon series based on breakfast cereals. I’ll never be able to look at a box of Frosted Flakes the same again.
Goldfish? Cheerios? S’mores prayers? Bread and juice?
“I could almost smell the Sunday dinner as he described in great detail his vivid memory of every aspect…”
Dr. Doug Thrasher gave a sermon at my home church about Sunday dinner with biscuits and gravy on a communion Sunday. I’ll never forget the intentionality of a mama setting the Sunday table for her family and the planning involved.
“Have you ever walked into a home with one of those enormous family Bibles? I mean the kind you have to open with two hands.”
When a local UMC church was closing in our district, one of my moms went to the garage sale the church was having. It was her home church. She asked about the Chrismons which were a sticky faith formation experience of her now art-teacher-of-the-year faith journey. They pulled them out and gave them to her! Even before this, she had led our 3rd graders in October and November for the last four years in a rite of passage to make and learn about Chrismons. She leads those students to decorate the children’s large group space each year for Advent: Hanging of the Greens. Lots of gold beads, lots of white styrofoam, lots of conversation, LOTS of stick pins. The Chrismons of her home church are now enjoyed and shared with her students at her son’s home church. The Chrismons of both churches hang together in our children’s spaces.
In my weekday preschool days, we displayed an apple when we studied apples. We ate apple stuff, counted apples, played with apples, used apple-scented shampoo in the water table, read apple books, painted with apples, and did everything we could possibly think of with apples.
“It all comes down to a simple question: Why are we here?” If our local church, and our family, exists to know Jesus and make Him known, how are we intentionally marking our lives for Him in the stickiest ways possible, through our five senses? At home. At church. At work.
“You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:9