I wrote this article for our denomination’s publication, The Lutheran Ambassador. It appeared in this month’s issue (February 2019) and I thought I would also share it here. It deals with passing the faith on to our children.
People need structure. It gives a sense of security and a framework on which to build and base daily life. God knew this, and so from the very beginning, He blessed humankind with a rhythm of life that would shape our relationship with Him.
“… God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:3
A little later, this becomes one of the Ten Commandments:
“ Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.” Exodus 20:8-10a
When our children were young, Sunday Services were simply a fixture of life. Sometimes we didn’t feel like getting up; sometimes our daughters were cranky, or somebody didn’t feel so well; sometimes the weather was nasty; still we went, week after week, year after year. What did our children (and now our grandchild) gain from this dogged persistence? The world might say, not much…. a meaningless ritual! I beg to disagree and here are a few of my observations.
First of all, they came to understand that God is important, and so is His body, the Church. The things of faith are not kept in a separate compartment, to be brought out on holidays or special occasions. They are part of the ebb and flow of daily life.
Through the weekly liturgy, our children internalized the basics of the Christian faith. They memorized the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed, as well as many passages from the Scripture which we recited or sang every Sunday. They learned that we need to confess, repent, pray and give thanks regularly. They learned that our monetary offering gives back to God a small part of what He’s already given to us. I remember hearing our daughters and our nephew “play church” as they sang parts of the service together.
Sunday services also walked us together through the seasons of the church year and the life of Christ. There were joyous times and sad times, times to reflect and times to anticipate. Each season had its’ own particular music and rituals. Advent meant lighting the advent candles and singing “O Come, O Come, Emanuel”, Lent was the time when flowers on the altar disappeared and songs became somber (“Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?”) Easter brought lilies and “Christ the Lord Has Risen Today” along with flowering the cross (made from the church Christmas tree) which had stood, plain and empty in the sanctuary until Easter morning.
To be continued …..