This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to present the first story in our PlayFull Faith series with a group of upper elementary age children at our church. To be sure, I hope the PlayFull Faith series will help people of all ages—adults and children—but one of the tests I have for it is the “child-friendly” test. I want the story to engage kids and help them interact meaningfully with the content.
Here’s why this matters to me: I believe in a God of hope. In fact, I believe that, though love is the greatest of the three cardinal virtues, it is impossible to love when one has no hope. Hope is a spring from which faith and love become possible.
To hope is to live now in what-is-to-come. It is a posture that relinquishes regret concerning the past and embraces courage in the present because “greater things have yet to come” in the future.
Hope is so foundational a whole theological system has arisen out of it. This “theology of hope” is one that truly embodies the “now-and-not-yet” aspect of the kingdom of God of which Jesus spoke. Faith in this Jesus-of-hope orients one in the present according to “what-will-be”—redemption, joy, beauty, shalom. A true theology of hope enables one to act in love today through a joy-filled vision of the future.
I agree with that much.
But here’s my problem with many of our so-called theologies. They fail to take children into account—not merely as objects of theology but as subjects—or rather, as authors. Yet, what better resource is there to develop a theology of hope than children? Children have the best chance of living out hope since their future is greater than their past. “The future” is what they have. “The past” is what they will have, in time.
Because of this, PlayFull Faith is intended for all—both young and old—to discover what it means to live in hope. The stories in the series are derived from The Story, as told in the Bible. That Big Story reminds us we are destined for things that spring from Someone “who was and is and is to come.” If these stories are not for children, they cannot be for any of us—because, before our Father, we are all children.
Be on the lookout—especially for this first story in the series. I expect it will be used in all kinds of settings to help folks dream about the future. Yes, the creation story is not just about something that happened in the past. It is a story about the future.
And thank you for all the encouragement so many of you have given thus far! You truly give the folks at PlayFull “hope to carry on.”
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