Children as a Symbol of Hope

stanley-hauerwasAs I prepared for my message from this past weekend, “God of the Little Ones,” I read a lot of different material. In returning to Stanley Hauerwas’ A Community of Character, I was seized by the power of his comments on children, not only in relation to parents but also in terms of the broader community around them:

Having children is one of the most morally charged things any community of people does, as nothing else says more about who they are and what they think life is about.

In particular, a community’s willingness to encourage children is a sign of its confidence in itself and its people. For children are a community’s sign to the future that life, in spite of its hardship and tedium, is worthwhile.  Also, children are symbols of our hope—please note that they are not the object of our hope—which sustains us in our day-to-day existence. Life may be hard, but it can be lived. Indeed, it can be lived with zest and interest to the extent that we have the confidence to introduce others to it.

More profoundly, children signal a community’s confidence because they are bound to change our society and their existence fortells inevitable challenge. Our stories and traditions are never inherited unchanged. Indeed, the very power and truth of a tradition depends on its adaptation by each new generation. Thus, children represent a community’s confidence that its tradition is not without merit and is strong enough to meet the challenge of a new generation.

(Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character, p. 209)

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