31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
February 4, 2024
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Why? Why? Why – why- why – why? It’s a stage we all go through as humans – the “why” stage, the curiosity phase; the constantly asking questions period in our lives. Many a tired and annoyed parent asks, “When will it end? When will my child grow out of asking ‘why’ all the time?”
I understand. I’ve been there; however instead of asking when the ‘why’ stage is going to end, we should instead be asking why the ‘why’ stage ends at all. We should be sad when children stop asking questions about the world, stop being curious, stop wondering why things are the way they are.
And we should be concerned about ourselves when we begin going through life without noticing all of the marvelous details of God’s world or when we begin going through life accepting the status quo and never questioning or challenging the injustices of our world.
Curiosity, questioning, and wondering are ways we grow closer to God, ways we follow Jesus.
In his book, 10 Conversations You Need to Have with Your Children, Shmuley Boteach writes, “Curiosity is the soul of every relationship….The desire to know is the foundation of every interaction we have in life.” (pg 56) He goes on to write “when you’re curious about another person, you will always remain fully engaged with that person. You’ll want to know what they’ve been doing all day, what they’re thinking, and what they want to do that weekend. That person will never bore you.” (pg 58)
Curiosity is the soul, the life blood of every relationship. Curiosity invites us to wonder what someone else can teach us. Curiosity invites us to learn about others’ lives and other cultures and other countries. Curiosity inspires us to connect, to connect with others and to connect with God.
Our sacrament of baptism asks parents:
Will you journey with your child to discover the wonder of God’s love and encourage them to be curious and questioning about our Christian faith so that they may grow up to be the faithful disciple of Jesus Christ that God calls them to be, claiming our faith as their own through the rite of Confirmation?
The first part of that seems pretty okay. Who wouldn’t want to discover the wonders of God’s love? To gaze at the sunset or marvel at the little birds flitting and flying all about? Whose heart doesn’t melt a little to see two small children sharing a cookie?
It’s the second part of that question “Curious and questioning about our Christian faith” that can trip us up. For those who were raised in a church community, too many of us were taught the opposite. We were taught to accept, to memorize the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, to turn off our questions and just recite what others told us to believe – about the Church, about Jesus, about God.
Faith is not the absence of questions though. Faith is knowing there is a God you can question.
Faith is knowing that God’s ways are not our ways, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and seeking to better understand God’s thoughts and ways.
Faith is asking the questions – all the questions, including the big scary questions. Asking them in curiosity. Sometimes asking them in anger or sadness or frustration. Why did my loved one die? Why do I feel like bad things keep happening to me, over and over? Why can’t all people get along and live in peace and harmony?
Faith questions. Faith asks the big and little questions. Faith questions God, so we can know God better and know God’s purpose better.
A curious mindset grows our relationships with God and with others and helps us more faithfully follow Jesus because Jesus was always questioning. Jesus questioned the status quo. Jesus questioned those in authority. Jesus questioned anything that kept people from God, from community, or from living their best life.
Why shouldn’t this person be healed on the Sabbath? Why are these people discriminated against? Why can’t the children come to me?
Jesus questioned, and Jesus calls us to question – to question injustice, to question those in power, to question the status quo. Jesus invites us to listen to God and listen to God’s Word, as spoken through scripture and the prophets, and to be curious, to wonder, even to challenge the way it’s always been, especially when that way harms people.
As the prophet Micah did, Jesus invites us to ask, “What is good? What is pleasing to God? What does God ask of us?” and then Jesus invites us to go one step further and ask, “What does justice look like? What does kindness look like? What does it mean to walk humbly with God?”
Just as important as asking why we have decided to follow Jesus is asking “why” as we follow Jesus. Wonder, curiosity, asking questions, both big and small, strengthens our relationship with God, strengthens our faith lives, so we can walk humbly and faithfully with God.