Fear rolled over me as I spun my head around and searched the back seat of my car for the source of mortal terror.
In the back seat, Hadley screamed like a snake crawled into the car seat with her, but there was no snake. No spider. No boogeyman of any kind, as far as I could tell.
“Hadley, what is wrong?!”
“That was my faaavooorite song,” she bawled.
Before parking the car in front of our house, Hadley sat in the back seat singing along to the cd Pamela and Kaitlin made of the upcoming Christmas play songs (12/10). When I killed the car engine, the song died too, and Hadley bellowed her discontent with all the gusto of a threenager, “NOOOO!!!”
30 minutes later, she sat on my lap in the driver’s seat singing, “Glory to God in the Highest” at the top of her lungs on our second play through of the entire cd…
Each time a new song came on and I reached to turn the car off, she recited the first line of our now familiar call and response litany: “Just one more, Dada. This one is my favorite.”
Then, I read my line for the 15th time, “okay, just one more song.”
Listening to her sing in a voice she inherited from her father, it occurred to me that Hadley will never know a time that she isn’t loved by God. She won’t have so much of the baggage that my childhood Christianity gave me in its attempt to scare me toward God and away from hell.
Each week Hadley comes to church and learns that God loves her. She isn’t told that she’s inadequate and broken or that there’s something fundamentally wrong with her that justifies her spending eternity in hell unless she’s a good little girl who can pray enough or behave well enough.
Hadley and all the rest of our children are told that there’s nothing at all that they can do to make God love them any more or any less. They are already loved beyond measure just as they are.
Hadley sings out of pure delight, not fear. She’s telling the truth; the next song is her favorite. It’s the song she’s about to sing that is the most important song in the world.
Sometimes I take what NorthHaven Church is offering to our children and youth for granted. Because it’s how I believe things should be and because it’s the world Hadley is growing up in, I forget that it is far from common.
NorthHaven’s message as an inclusive community of Christ followers is uncommon in our world, and our kind of church is an endangered species. Conservation efforts are essential, because our children are worth it. Our children deserve a place to live and love and grow without the threat of God’s violence looming over them.
That’s why on this Giving Tuesday, I’m asking you to join me in giving a special gift to NorthHaven Church above and beyond our regular tithe. Give to protect and preserve the sacred message that our children are inheriting from us.
There are a lot of really great organizations asking for your charitable gifts today. I know they’re deserving, and I believe in my bones that NorthHaven is worth it too. Ensuring that the Gospel is preached- God loves all, is in all, and overcomes all- is worth investing in. It’s worth it not only because our children are worth it, but because this world needs it now more than ever.
We’re a small church, and our reach isn’t what I wish it were, but God willing, I believe we’re raising little missionaries filled with light and life and love, who will grow up and carry the inclusive Gospel of Jesus Christ out into the world. What we’re doing right now matters, and it depends on our generosity to keep the good work going and the Good News proclaimed. We can’t afford to do anything less.
Jakob Topper, Senior Pastor