We built a house when our daughter was four years old. Being new to the community, we enrolled her in a nearby parochial preschool, hoping she might meet friends in our area who would then attend public school with her. The school’s size, small, felt just right. I hadn’t spent much time away from my little girl yet and I didn’t want to overwhelm her (or me).
I remember the first time she saw the statue of Mary at the school. As protestants we weren’t familiar with religious statues. Shyly, she asked me who that woman was. I told her it was the mother of Jesus. My daughter reached out and gently touched the hem of Mary’s dress, asking if she could take a photo standing beside her.
We had a great first year of school. I enjoyed picking my girl up each day and hearing her talk on the car ride home about everything that happened. Truly, I don’t think she left many details out.
One day after class, her teacher asked me if I had a few minutes. A couple months into my daughter’s school career and I was having a meeting with the teacher. She had my attention.
It was November and the school would go on Thanksgiving break soon. The teacher had read the children a couple books about the pilgrims who came to America. She explained they wanted religious freedom. Her words, as I remember them, went something like this,
In some countries, people weren’t allowed to go to church. They came to America so they could worship God freely.
These words made my daughter weep. In all her four years (smile), she’d never heard of people not being allowed to go to church. She didn’t understand why people would be mean like that. Her teacher thought I would want to know what had upset her young heart.
I knew then, we had taught our daughter some beautiful truths about faith.
God wants us to worship him.
No one should tell another person they cannot go to church.
We can’t take our freedom to go to church for granted.
She’d never known anything else but going to church with her family. What a gift.
For a year, our daughter attended that parochial school. She added to her basic skills in the areas of academics, socialization and faith. Every year, about this time, I remember that preschool story. I consider where she is in her faith walk these days-almost a decade later.
While still young in her faith, she continues to learn beautiful truths.
She worships God. She joins her church family in singing praise and worship songs. She’s learning more about her Bible through devotionals, scripture study and catechism. She tells me regularly about her prayers to God.
She’s learned about the variety of churches people attend. We have visited several of them over the years. She knows we don’t have to go to the same type of church to worship Jesus.
Along with the rest of us this year, she’s realized going to church is a privilege. During the quarantine, we were unable to attend for many months. Oh, how we missed it.
What a perfect time, now during this particular Thanksgiving season, to reflect on these things, to appreciate the religious freedoms that have been gifted to us, to be thankful we can go to church.