Passing on the Faith
Faith Without Words: On Infant Faith Formation
Then comes the day you're introduced into a faith community beyond your family walls. Eager hands bestow on you a blessing. With oohs and ahs of welcome, you pass secure into a larger story.
Sacred space and time take on new forms as voices swell in prayer and song. Formed already by faith's firm foundation, you rest secure, invited to a greater belonging. Here, one day, you too will know the words to name a faith already living deep within. Here, as an adult you can return to rest your knowledge in faith's source.
When does an infant form faith?
Faith is formed through acts of caregiving.
When the shelter of an adult body reassures.
When gentle rocking comforts.
When someone listens and understands.
When you are in a crowd and an adult takes your hand.
Faith is formed at play in creation.
When you are at play in the world.
When you color a rainbow.
When you pet a kitten or cuddle a baby chick.
When the night sky winks stars and you feel small.
Faith is formed in sacred time and place.
When you feel cozy in bed or sit on a warm lap to be read a Bible story.
When a meal is graced.
When scripture is read with reverence.
When something wonderful happens and someone gives thanks.
Faith is formed in a community of shared meaning.
When you are part of a prayer circle and everyone is holding hands.
When a church member listens like you have something important to say.
When someone who is not your parent teaches you about God or Jesus.
When the organ plays or bells ring or candles are lit.
Or a banner marches forward in church.
Jeanne Choy Tate is the author of Something Greater: Culture, Family and Community as Living Story (WipfandStock 2013). As a bilingual/bicultural early childhood educator in San Francisco's Chinatown and Presbyterian lay pastor, she discovered the interdependent values of Chinese culture to be, in many ways, closer to the values of early biblical communities than modern individualism. In an M.A. with Robert Bellah and a Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union, she explored how infants and young children are invited to share in a heritage of culture and faith.
Something Greater contrasts the intergenerational childrearing of biblical and Chinese communities as with America's individualism. To find out more about how Something Greater encourages a conversation around the impact of individualism and cultural diversity on American society, please visit her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JeanneChoyTate.author.