This weekend I’m heading out on a retreat with our Confirmation class – a group of 8th graders who have decided (or ocassionally coerced by parents) to further explore the Christian faith: God, Scripture, the Trinity, Jesus, justice, discipleship, and much more. Typically these classes are like pulling teeth to get youth to talk; especially when this is their first extensive involvement at church.
But this class has been different. Whereas you could hear a pin drop in most confirmation classes, myself and our pastor can’t get these youth to stop talking. It’s a bit bizarre. AWESOME, but bizarre. There is no end to their questions. As soon as we begin heading a certain direction in our conversation, a hand shoots up – or they just shout out – and a bout 80% of the time they want to clarify something or know what it has to do with real life or somehow connect it to their world around them.
It’s fun to watch the wheels turn every week.
But what I enjoy most is the questions. We don’t necessarily always arrive at definite answers, but our classes are full of life because of their curiosity and questions.
I wonder: is the vibrancy of the Christian faith based in answers, or could we use more questions in our life?
I recently read an interview with one of my favorite musical artists, Josh Garrels. Josh makes vibrant music with creative lyrics, beautiful instrumentation, and more questions than answers.
“…my music, I would say, is trying to peel back layers and find out where is God in the midst of this city that I live in, and this marriage I’m in, and these things that are going wrong and these things that are going right.”
While Josh’s music defies categories (ie. “Christian” music, transcendent answers), I’ve found it to be inspiring, truth telling, and simply beautiful. His newest 18-track-long album only mentions the word “Jesus” once – something that is a little unusual for a musical artist labeled as “Christian.” But somehow he captures the vibrancy of Jesus without mentioning his name. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but it’s awesome. Garrels avoids giving Sunday School answers, even in his music.
It strikes me that the book of Job ends with God answering Job’s questions and scolding Job’s friends. And God doesn’t answer as if to say, “Gosh Job, would you just shut up already?! I’m the creator of the cosmos. You have no idea what you’re talking about, so just shut it!” (sometimes I wonder if we do this to our youth)
God can handle Job’s questions.
God can handle our questions.
If God can’t handle our questions, we worship a pretty lame God.
I think sometimes we need to get out of our rhythm of giving answers. Sometimes we need to get into a rhythm of asking questions, and being OK when we don’t have answers. I’m reminded of this every time we meet with our 8th grade confirmation class.
And I look forward to seeing where their questions take us next this weekend…
Here’s the one song where Josh mentions the name Jesus: