I am not sure that we are ever to be casual about God's House and our place therein. We are not there by our own merits, to be sure. We are there only at the Father's invitation. Even then, it is Jesus who walks us through the door. Only because we are in Christ can we ever be worthy of a place in the presence of God -- much less open our hands and mouths to receive His gifts. While some worry about reverence being off putting, I worry about the opposite. When the things of God and our presence before the Lord becomes a casual thing, danger is most certainly ahead for the person and for the Church. In this day and age we are in little danger of being too solemn in worship but we are in great danger of treating worship and the God whom we worship frivolously. Sort of like the humorous stories that too often pass as sermons and the music which is designed to touch the soul with its beat yet fights against that purpose with trivial text.
Therein lies one of the dilemmas faced by our lack of knowledge of the saints and their stories. Even Biblical figures are treated like we would treat God -- a besty instead those who have gone through the great tribulation. The necessity of saints is, of course, the necessity of heroes and heroic figures through whom we glimpse God's mighty power -- even if that power is exercised only to save the unworthy and undeserving. Saints may teach us but they are not quite teachers. Saints model the faith but they are not simply role models. Saints are windows into the sufficient grace of God and into the mercy of God without end. They are great and mighty not because of personal achievement but because they have known the Lord, wrestled with Him in life, and rested in Him in death. They spur us on not like the coach who says you can do this but as those whose lives are mirrors of God's goodness, grace, and glory. The are icons. Through them we glimpse something greater. God who is rich in mercy and whose steadfast love endures forever.
They show us what God has paid for our redemption when we know their sins and flaws. They show us what we are to pay in taking up our crosses and following Jesus by faith. They show us that there is a goal to this seemingly aimless life and it is not simply to live until we die but to died in Christ so that we might live forever. Our children will choose heroes to emulate and follow and inspire. Sadly, they are flawed people who glory in their flaws and in whom is no lament or contrition or repentance. From rock stars to media sensations to sports figures to the faces on the silver screen, they will find heroes -- unless we offer them real heroes in the saints through whom we glimpse the face of God. We live today not with an abundance of heroic figures but in a poverty of heroes worthy of our attention. But the lives of the saints could remedy this lack. It would help even if we only learned the stories of the great figures of the Bible. But we need not stop there.
Do yourself and your kids a favor. Teach them the stories of the saints.