Monday, April 20, 2009

Becoming a Better Godparent--Communicate Regularly

Last time, I talked about sending your godchild a card on the anniversary of his/her baptism. But as I was writing, it occurred to me how much better it would be to communicate regularly. I like the idea of something more permanent than a phone call, something the child and parents could refer to again and again. I tend to think in terms of writing, but you could use any of the prompts to create a collage, take inspired photographs, make a recording/podcast of your voice responding to the prompt--you're only limited by your imagination and your art supplies/access to technology.


--What's your favorite Bible verse? Why?

--What are some other Bible verses you love? Why?

--Once a month, you could send a card with a short verse, and a few sentences about why the verse is meaningful to you.

--What's your favorite Bible story?

--Tell your godchild about a time when you've seen God at work in your life.

--If you know the family of the godchild, you could tell stories about when the godchild's family members have known that God is at work in their lives.

--Talk about something you've seen in nature that reminded you of the wonder of God's creation.

--Create prayers for your godchild. Illustrate them.

--Are there works of art (don't limit yourself to painting--think about music, sculpture, poetry, and such) that help you move closer to God? Tell your godchild about them.

--As you sing your favorite hymns throughout the year, write to your godchild about the hymn and the memories the hymn inspires.

--You might also write/communicate about the other aspects of the church service which are meaningful to you.

--If you hear a good sermon on a Sunday, write to your godchild and talk about it. If you're blessed to be part of a church that gives a good children's sermon, tell your godchild about it.

--If you're part of a liturgical church, send your godchild a card as the liturgical seasons change. You could create a meditation on the colors of the season. You could write about your memories (for example, do you remember Summer as "the long green season"?).

--As you attend other spiritual events (weddings, confirmations, first communions, other baptisms, funerals), use these events as a springboard to spiritual discussions, memories, and other communications with your godchild.

--You might also communicate your periods of doubt and despair, especially if you've moved through them. It's helpful for us to remember that living a faith-based life doesn't mean we'll be excused from the hard part of being a human (in fact, it might open us to more pain, as we try to be compassionate to God's creation).

--Tell your godchild about the things for which you're grateful. Think of ways to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in your godchild.

--As you work on social justice projects, tell your godchild about them and why they're important. You might even take your godchild with you to social justice projects that aren't dangerous: bagging food at a food pantry, serving food to the homeless, collecting clothes for the less fortunate, sending books to colleges in Africa, prayer services for oppressed groups, rallies to demand fair housing, and similar experiences.

It would be great to start and continue a dialogue with your godchild, instead of just sending missives. So you could send something, and then follow up with a phone call or an e-mail. Let your godchild know that you're open to questions and that you'll answer honestly. Engage your godchild in wrestling with the basic spiritual questions, and try not to freak out as your godchild does so.

The parents of your godchild chose you to be a godparent for a reason. Out of all the people in the world, they chose you and entrusted you with this responsibility. Just think of what a better world we'd have if we all took this job seriously. Within a generation, perhaps the problems that some churches face in terms of decline would be reversed. Maybe we'd see a spiritually mature generation full of compassion and a thirst for justice.

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