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Christian Education Sunday – Handing down faith from generation to generation

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Eighteenth Sunday of Pentecost – September 23, 2018

Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Psalm 128 and Mark 10:13-16

Many years ago there was a devoted priest in the Church of England, in whose heart there burned a desire to see the church renewed and revitalised. One day while he was studying and praying his two small boys, were playing on the stairway. At one point, he just couldn’t contain himself and frustrated by the noise he rushed out of his study and shouted at them saying: “Go play elsewhere. I am trying to pray great new life to come to the church and your noise is making it hard for me to pray.” What he did not know, was how dedicated and fruitful preachers his sons would become one day.

Children are our future, aren’t they? Here at Dayspring we are blessed to have significant children’s ministries, thanks to Shane and Lynn’s commitment to reach the hearts of our youth and kids. Would it ever help if we were to restrict our faith to those who think just like us? I’m thinking of likeminded as well as people who look just like us and who are roughly in the same age-group as us, which is often the case in many churches in our time. It is great, though, that we do have a large group of kids involved in our Church School as well as Children’s Time and that the demographics transcend the original Presbyterian tradition. Currently our Youth coordinator, often along with our Church School Coordinator have Kid’s Club, plus a Youth Group and a Young Adults group running quite well. This summer for the first time in many years we had a stronger than ever Vacation Bible School run at Dayspring. We see a strong reflection of the kids and young people in our schools and in society wherever we go during the week.

Having said all of this, we need to critically ask ourselves, how do we transfer our faith from this generation that we are in, to the upcoming generations, perhaps ten, twenty or fifty years into the future? Does our vision go that far? We strive for this in what we do here at Dayspring. Our mission starts right here in our midst, within the four walls of our church building. It starts with nurturing an increasing love towards God among our kids and youth.

Our Deuteronomy reading in particular does this. It puts the emphasis on looking towards keeping our faith directed at a love for God. “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might,” is what we hear in the reading from Deuteronomy. That’s where it all begins. How do we teach our children to love God? Again, that is spelled out clearly, “Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.” Does this ancient text from Deuteronomy resonate with us or does it sound over the top? Would we prefer to water it down, and rather stay away for being lovers of God and of God’s scripture? I suspect we don’t want to water it down, and that we have a fervent wish that our kids would continue loving God as we do.

When we look at our reading from Mark 10, we cannot fail to notice Jesus’ teaching about the importance of children. In a time in which women and children were given little or no regard, Jesus gave them high regard. In Mark 10:13-16, the disciples tried to turn away the little children who were being brought to Jesus. In a profound statement of inclusiveness of children, Jesus said: “Forbid them not.” We often ignore and fail to see the potential of the children. Jesus never did.

Do not forbid anyone, stranger, immigrant or child who does the work of Jesus.

Do not forbid the children he loved and blessed. In both there is infinite potential. Let’s focus on handing down our dearly held faith from the one generation to another.

 

Copyright 2018 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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