Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Symbols and Children

There comes a time in a girl's life when she realizes that Mama gets to wear a pretty ring and she doesn't. That time came for Rosalind about a month ago.

"Where Rose ring?" she asked, pointing to her empty finger. And then came the time to explain, to a toddler, the meaning of the ring. "This ring means that Papa loves me and promises to protect and provide for me; and that he will be a good Papa to our children-to our little Rose."

A sagacious nod. Now she points to my hand and says with a wise look in her eyes, "That's Papa ring."

Since Joshua and I began attending a more liturgical church, I've often pondered the reason for liturgy and symbols and repeated acts of worship. Why do we pray the Lord's Prayer, confess the ancient creeds of the church and take the Lord's supper? For that matter, why do we pray before eating or going to bed? Does repeating a ceremony daily, weekly, yearly make it mere rote?

Certainly not! Though we certainly can mumble a prayer before dinner just because that's what "good people" do, the most important aspects of life are commemorated by thoughtful traditions. Dinner prayers to remind us that all is a gift from God, communion to reflect on the mercy of Christ, the creeds to remember the basic beliefs of Christ's followers and a wedding ring to symbolize the union of husband and wife...

After God commanded the Israelite people to keep the passover, He said, "And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.’" (Exodus 13:14)

Not only are symbols a reminder to us of the covenants God has made with us, or we with one another, and an encouragement to be faithful in them, but they open the door through tangible examples to teach our children. How beautiful the simple sacred symbols are!

photo by J. Chris Photography

1 comment:

Glad2bHis said...

Great post, Anna!