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Archive for Saturday, May 9, 2009

Faith Forum: What did your mother teach you about faith?

May 9, 2009

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Parents set excellent example

The Rev. Randy Weinkauf, pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church & University Student Center, 2104 Bob Billings Parkway:

I grew up in a family, both immediate and extended, where one’s faith in Jesus as Savior was freely and openly shared. Each person in the family — my parents, my siblings and I, plus all my relatives — was active in weekly worship and various activities in the life of the congregation. While I had many influences in my faith journey, it was my mother who was instrumental in teaching me about a loving faith.

I remember that, as a youngster, when it was bedtime, I would tell dad “goodnight,” give him a kiss, then go to bed. Mom would follow to my bedroom, which I shared with my brother, for an end of daytime of talking and sharing. Then she would read a devotion, say a prayer, give both of us a hug and kiss, and remind us that she loved us. Five decades later, I can’t remember a single devotion Mom read or prayer she offered heavenward. But I remember with fondness her warm presence, her tight hugs, her tender kisses, her love of Jesus and family, and her firm faith active in love — her loving faith.

I have served as a parish pastor for almost 28 years. I look back and see times of success and failure, of ups and downs, of excellent decision-making and foolish choices, and almost 2,000 sermons preached. I remember the members of five congregations who knew me as “pastor” and with affection and admiration the four individuals who call me “dad.” I have no idea how any of these individuals view the time our lives intersected. But if, in the end, they can at least remember my presence, my fondness for them, my love of Jesus and my family, and see a faith active in love, then my ministry was productive and my parenting a success.

After all, I had an excellent example to follow. Thanks, Mom!

— Send e-mail to Randy Weinkauf at parishpastor@ilcandusc.org.

Perspective differs for women

Judy Roitman, guiding teacher of the Kansas Zen Center, and a member of the Jewish Community Center:

Not much. We went to the synagogue because my father was the cantor and we had no choice. Our kitchen was kosher so that my grandmother would eat in our house. The only evidence that my mom had any religious conviction was when, at 11, I told her I didn’t believe in God and she, pointing to the ceiling, said, “He will strike you dead.”

It was her mom and her mom’s mom who taught me about religious practice. What they taught me can be summarized very simply: do it. Do it every day. Don’t skip it because you are tired or busy or sick or don’t feel like it. Just do it. Their practice was the hybrid of prayer and meditation that Jews call davening. Each of them, every morning of her adult life, would take out a thin prayer book, sit in a chair, and mutter the words in Hebrew very fast for about 20 minutes, her finger moving down each page. No fuss, no big deal, just davening. After that, they would dress and eat breakfast; their day could begin. Each of them lived to their late nineties, and each of them davened every morning until the day she died.

In that time and place, Judaism was not friendly to women. There were no women rabbis, no women cantors. Women were not called to the Torah; they were not even allowed near it. Women did not study Torah and its commentaries. Women did not have the religious obligations that men did. Contemporary Orthodox Judaism has made a separate place for women with some dignity; that did not exist back then. And yet these women davened every morning. It was unthinkable not to. What better lesson could there be?

— Send e-mail to Judy Roitman at jroitman@ku.edu.

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