You don’t have to be a working mom and wife to have a hectic schedule, nor do you need to be a parent for catechesis to be important. But when your schedule is nuts, finding just five minutes seems daunting.
Even the shortest of devotionals or the simplest of catechism routines can often take much longer than expected when you consider having to wrangle squirmy kids while hunting down the materials that got buried under this week’s mail or laundry or dishes or all of the above. Then the world distracts to no end — even if we manage to sit down with our Bible or our Small Catechism, our mind wanders, the tv calls, or Facebook beckons.
It can be all too easy to give into the distractions or to let the frenzy of life keep us from even trying to force the kids (and ourselves) to focus at all. They’re too fussy. We’re too tired. I am certainly no expert in how to fit catechesis into my every day. I, too, fall prey to my sinful flesh that throws up my hands and says “Meh, why bother? I’ll just do it tomorrow.”
While I absolutely think having an altar time for the family to do catechesis and devotionals is beneficial, there’s no rule that says you have to make it fancy or long or that you can’t do more throughout the day. Here’s how we make the time in our busy schedule.
1. In The Car
Whether driving a 30 minute commute or a short 5 minutes, this is prime time to practice memory work. Have kids take turns reciting parts of the catechism. Have everyone together say the Lord’s Prayer and Luther’s Morning or Evening prayers (if appropriate for the time of day — the morning prayer is great on the way to school).
And those kiddos too young to talk hear God’s Word from their siblings and learn this is a priority for us and something we do, even when we’re just driving to the store. Please don’t try to read the catechism while driving, though… that would be dangerous, so make sure you have these prayers and parts memorized ahead of time.
2. While Cooking
Or folding the laundry… or unloading the dishwasher… or giving them baths… or putting on pajamas… when hands are busy with other things, we can still be engaging ourselves and our littles in learning God’s Word. Any time you have a moment when the kids’ attention isn’t elsewhere, work on that catechism, say prayers with them, talk to them about God’s Word. It doesn’t have to be formal, long, or fancy. Sing a hymn. Say a prayer. Recite a Psalm.
And ask them questions, even basic ones. Let them ask you questions. Their questions may not be biblical outright, but their curiosity can often lend itself to wonderful discussions on vocation or our Christian faith.
Just don’t be afraid to make those connections when the opening presents itself. Our son once asked me why he couldn’t breathe fire like Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon, and this led to a wonderful lesson about vocation and the ways God works through each of us in our own talents and gifts.
3. Don’t Waste the Opportunity
When our son asked about breathing fire, I could have easily brushed it aside as a silly notion and told him that he wasn’t a dragon. But there are so many times when our kids talk to us about this, that, and the other that fit so well into teaching them God’s Word and the doctrine of Christ. When kids disobey or misbehave, that’s a chance to strengthen their understanding of the commandments. (So you still haven’t put your shoes on? Let’s talk about honoring your father and mother. You don’t want to go to church? Tell me what that third commandment says again.)
My hope is when we take these moments to tie events or their questions to our faith, they learn a bit about discernment. Perhaps it helps shape their worldview so they don’t see this Christian life as only existing at church on Sunday but as a significant part of our whole life. I like to think this is exactly what happened when our three year old pointed to my computer and said “Look, mom! A cross! Jesus died on the cross for our sins!”. Sure, she was pointing at the Facebook logo and thought it looked like a cross, but hey — I’ll take it!
The point is don’t ignore the moments when these connections can be made, when questions can be asked (or answered), or when lessons can be taught!
4. Pre-Church Review
Okay, Sunday mornings are notoriously hectic, but this is one of the best ways to help everyone prepare for hearing God’s Word from your pastor later that morning.
Grab the lectionary table, open your bible, and between bites of breakfast and sips of coffee read the Scripture that you’ll hear taught later that morning. Give kids phrases or lines to listen for and have them flash you a thumbs up or raise their hand when they hear it while in the pew. Now even when our six year old is busy coloring the kids’ bulletin, he hears our pastor say the key words and quickly gives me the signal that he heard it.
Sure, he still moans and groans when I start, as he would prefer to go off and play but a quick reminder of the 3rd commandment gets him to slink obligingly into my lap to listen.
I think we all struggle with this in some way. Single or married. With kids or without. Our Old Adam balks at regular catechesis and nudges us to do anything else. But we know we need to do better, and we know we’ll still fall short time and time again. For those times, let’s not get defensive when our Pastor’s reproof over this cuts us deep and the rebuke hits too close to home. Instead, let’s repent and be forgiven.
We all have times when we despise God’s Word and cast it aside in sheer laziness and contempt, taking the very faith He’s given us for granted. Thanks be to God for His grace and forgiveness through Christ crucified!