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Summary: What influence does family activities have on our present and future? How do family activities shape us in a positive or negative way?

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Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

October 31, 2004

“Building Lasting Family Memories”

Ephesians 6:1-4

Proverbs 22:6

INTRODUCTION: We are surrounded by many influences that try to shape our decisions into worldly life forms. Sometimes positive experiences get crowded out by the busyness of life--by all of the “have to do” things that are part of our day and all of the “shoulds and oughts” that take up our time. We are shaped by many influences--both good and bad. Our memories have a way of shaping our present and our future.

One of today’s scriptures talks about “training a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Another translation says to shape or mold. The Message Bible says, “Point your kids in the right direction and when they’re old they won’t be lost.”

Building family memories is a way of not only shaping us in the Christian traditions over a lifetime but also shaping productive work habits and patterns for happier lives in general. Our memories shape us.

Today I have brought a gift bag. (show items and talk about briefly). It contains momentos of some good memories. Places we have gone, things we have done, things that have shaped our individual lives as well as shaping our family identity. You may have a particular way of reminding yourself of family memories--scrapbooks, picture albums, various traditions and celebrations throughout the year. What are some things that you have in your homes that remind you of your family memories? You can probably think of all kinds of things.

1. Memories--Both Good and Bad: You will notice that my gift bag only contained good memories. But our lives are a mixture of both good and bad experiences. Some of the bad memories often hinder us from being our best in the present and in looking toward the future. Sometimes we dwell on the memories that are negative and the positive experiences get crowded out. People will say, “my friend lied to me, and I can never trust anyone again.” This negative memory may linger in your minds for years. It robs us of the abundant life that Jesus came to bring us. The celebrations of our lives are meant to help us to get from one season to another. Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas should be times of building positive family memories but so often it does the exact opposite when family get togethers turn sour.

Sometimes people will let a root of bitterness grow because of the things people said to them years and years before. It could be something that their parents said or did that seemed unfair at the time.

Our other scripture for today says, “Fathers do not exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” We know that in real life this doesn’t always happen. There is much verbal abuse as well as physical abuse in our society today. Sometimes people will constantly put us down when things happen in our lives. “You’re stupid, you can never do anything right, you are a klutz.” We buy into these negative remarks.

Story: A man and his wife bought their new dream car. It didn’t have a scratch on it. They both liked the color, the size, and the ease of handling. One day his wife was out driving to the store in the flawless car. The light changed and another car charged through the red light. He hit her really messing up the no-scratch vehicle. When she pulled the registration out of the glove compartment there was also a note from her husband. It read, “If you ever wreck the car, remember it’s YOU I love and not the car.”

I think this experience was turned into a positive family experience after all. Building lasting family members takes some deliberate planning and work. It doesn’t happen automatically. Many times people think that things have to continue as they have always been. This is not so, especially for the Christian. When you come to the Lord scripture says, “if any person is in Christ, he/she is a new creation. The old has gone and the new is come” (II Corinthians 5:17).

2. Dealing With Bad Family Memories: We know that we can’t go back and undo the past memories that were hurtful and destructive. We can’t undo the things that made us cry.

Story: The Cow Cream Pitcher

When I was growing up we always had a lot of stuff--what nots--dust collectors--junk. I think my Mom’s stuff shaped me into a “stuff person” as well. She had a cow cream pitcher where you picked up the cow by the tail and poured the cream out of its mouth. I don’t know where it came from but I think it may have come from the 1934 World’s Fair. She liked it. One day I got too close to the shelf and knocked it off. It broke into a million pieces. I felt sad. I cried. I promised to buy her a new one. But the years went by and I never could find another cow like that one.

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