We know that parents are the “first witnesses of the faith” to their children. The way parents live out their faith as they interact with their kids directly impacts the way their children come to know, develop, and understand a relationship with God. Yet, whenever I’m talking about this reality with parents, they always ask, “How do identify and celebrate moments of meaning?”
The simple answer is that we are called to live our faith in all the moments of our day. We deepen our relationship with God in the small moments of our life. There is no such thing as a “Big changes” in the trajectory of our devotion to God are rare—most of our growth is the result of a series of little changes (choices or actions) that make up the “big changes.” The same is true about how we live our faith. Parents help their children grow in their love for God as they invite them into their everyday choices—tiny evidences of their devotion that reflect a lifetime of faith.
What does this look like in the normal life of a family? My ministry colleague Leif Kehrwald has identified a four-step practice that helps families identify and celebrate moments of meaning in the context of daily life.
Step 1: Awareness—Stop! Look! Listen!
Someone recognizes that the family is having a moment of meaning and points it out to everyone else so that all are aware.
Step 2: Acknowledge It!
As a whole, the family acknowledges the presence of the Spirit in their midst. The routine of ordinary life is disrupted to make room to embrace and mark the new experience as a God moment.
Step 3: Connect to the Sacred
The family either chooses to pursue this tiny revelation further or to let it go. Questions to consider include:
- How does our story connect to presence, priorities, and values of Jesus?
- How do we pray about this encounter, or how does this encounter change our prayer?
- Who are the wisdom people with whom we should connect?
- How does this encounter intersect with the life of our faith community and our religious practice?
- What resources should we pursue for further growth?
Step 4: So What?
The family contemplates the impact that this experience has and will have on their life. Questions to consider include:
So, what are these “moments of meaning” that prompt us to pause and consider our connection to God? They are everyday notes that make up the melody of our life. For example, all our “firsts” are important—first steps, first words, learning to read, learning to cook a meal, getting a driver’s license. These are all moments of meaning. And so are school and work accomplishments—getting an “A” on an exam, a promotion at work, winning the spelling bee. Whenever there is an opportunity to celebrate as a family, it’s also a prompt to celebrate the God who loves us and has gifted us with his grace and talents.
As ministry leaders, we can guide parents and families into a simple practice—to see their moments and milestones in life as ways to connect to the message of the Gospel and recognize God’s love for them. Invite them to stay awake to the little things in life and consider God’s presence and action in them. Remind them that not every moment of meaning needs to be taken through the final two steps. It’s perfectly acceptable to note that something meaningful is happening in the family, but that now is not the time to explore its deeper meaning and impact on our trusting relationship with God.
The “small moments” path is also our path as ministry leaders. What are the small “wins” that we can celebrate in our ministry efforts, and remember to remember God? This week, be attentive to the moments of meaning in your ministry and consider the presence of God in them.
For a deeper dive into this practice, read Families and Faith: A Vision and Practice for Leaders, edited by Leif Kehrwald.
Rosina Hendrickson is a member of Vibrant Faith’s Coaching Team. She’s the Training and Events Coordinator for Liturgy Training Publications and the Coordinator of Family Faith Formation at St. Thomas the Apostle, both in Chicago, Illinois. She also facilitates STEP courses through the University of Notre Dame, a platform for online adult formation.