Last week I spent some time with some children from a local school on their “Christianity block.” They came to meet me in one of my chapels first, all the classes, one after the other. The children were marvellous and their questions mature and challenging given especially that their ages ranged from 4 to 11. The next day, I went into school to do a session with one of the classes, 6 / 7 year olds, and as I walked through the playground their teacher was letting them run off some physical energy before our session. She said, “They’ve got lots of questions for you. they’ve been saving them up.”
How wonderful to be so full of questions, so full of the newness of things, the challenge of learning. What questions did they ask? Among many there were: When was the Bible written? Who wrote the Bible? How long do you have to pray? Is prayer connected to hope? Can you believe that one? Why are people always hating on Jews? This was from a lad who is quarter Jewish and was getting stick from another boy. Why did Jesus have to come back? There’s a different angle on why Jesus had to die.
They even asked me: How old is the world? and How far is it from the earth to the moon? Their teacher reminded them that they were supposed to ask me questions about Christianity and that I couldn’t be expected to know everything!
A couple of questions made me think in particular. Asked one, for example, When were dinosaurs created if God created the world? Remember there are no dinosaurs in the Adam and Eve story and some Christians say the earth is only 6,000 years old. I think this question came from the child taking his Monday experience home and his parents challenging the Christian idea even though they had not heard what I had said about evolution and so on. It is the sort of questions people ask about Christianity and rightly so.
The whole experience made me even more certain that Christianity is not a set of pre-packaged truths to be swallowed whole like some sort of soul medicine, but an invitation to exploration. It offers us a story from which to glean some of the important questions for life, like what it is to be human, how we face death, how we live with our neighbour, the nature of love and so on. As the children asked their questions and I searched for answers that made sense to young minds yet left them room still to explore, I found myself learning anew. From our explorations, I found myself coming closer to a truth that works for me now, and I hope that in some small way I was able to help them on their journeys. Thank you children and your teachers who care for and encourage your lively minds.