Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church


Clergy Corner

Listening for the Real Inquiry

  • The Rev. Bob Dannals
  • Aug 23, 2017
  • Category: General
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It was early on a Saturday morning. I was preparing a quick breakfast and trying not to wake my family with rattling pans before I set out on my day.

I did not hear or see but rather felt a presence. "Hi, Daddy," said Mary Blair, then age 5. Even five year-olds are glassy-eyed at that hour, and Mary Blair was staring straight ahead. Eye-level for her was the bacon I was frying.

"Daddy, what's sex?" she asked.

Grease splashes. Heart misses a beat. At 6:30am reaction time slow, but mild panic is setting in.

"Ummm .....," I said. "What's sex?"

Mary Blair, now quite awake: "Yes, Daddy. You heard me. What's sex?"

"Well," I said authoritatively (while running through possible answers and quickly running out of them), "That's a good question, Mary Blair. How'd you come up with it?"

Impatience rising in her, Mary Blair said, "I'm looking at that coffee pot. See. S - i - x. Sex. What is it?"

"Oh, well!" (Relief is spelled s - i - x) "That's six, not sex. That means six cups in that pot."

"O.k., Daddy. Thanks."

Real life grants few reprieves, but I added a quite specific thanks to the General Thanksgiving in church the next day.

I like to think of myself as prepared for many tasks, but explaining sex, without warning, to a five year-old, at dawn, is clearly not one of them. This note isn't about sex, either. It's about inquiry and formation.

One of the most important things we do at Holy Innocents' is invite people into circles of inquiry and formation -- for all ages, including five year olds and their questions.

The church has often behaved as an anxious, bumbling parent when it comes to learning, inquiry and discovery. But a listening and responsive church is not shy about asking questions, engaging in challenging learning, and discovering God's voice and intention in the process.

This fall we have some exciting opportunities for Christian formation from "cradle to grave." The Children's ministry team and the youth ministry group are planning many activities to engage our younger people, all under the new and creative leadership of Megan Petenbrink. And we have offerings for adults -- on Sunday and during the week. Please consider making a new commitment to participate in one of the adult classes on Sundays, beginning September 10 at 10am. Choose to be a "Sunday morning person," again.

We can help each other and the larger world by taking the time we need to study, ask the difficult questions, seek and learn, and then be shaped by God's Spirit, so that our lives more closely resemble the teachings of Jesus.

Bob Dannals