Summary: A Mother’s Day sermon based on II Timothy

The Reformed Church of Locust Valley Easter V May 13, 2001 II Timothy 1:1-10

“Catching Faith”

There are certain things you will hear people in the church say over and over –. some are true and some are not. One of the things people say is that the children are the future of the church. I like it when people say that. I like it because churches should be full of children. They are great to have around. Children are a challenge. You have a reasonable expectation that adults will sit still through a service and maintain a certain decorum. Although everyone knows that often in the church, adults who are angry about something will not act with the best decorum, and that sometimes adults in the church sometimes sit and chat when they should be quiet, and sometimes they even gossip in the pews! And sometimes even during the service!

But children have to be taught how to worship. Now, if you started going to church as a child, you will remember being respectful of your parents, and their rather stern corrections when you misbehaved, and being a little fearful about acting the wrong way. Well, guess what. You did not start out as a prepackaged adult doing all the right things. You had to be taught. And you squirmed a bit sometimes too. The difference is that you remember your perspective as a child – you remember YOUR emotions, your fear of disapproval. Now you see it from your perspective as an adult.

Children must be taught how to worship. “Open the hymnbook, dear.” “This is how to find the book of Psalms.” “Close your eyes and fold your hands when you pray.” “Shhh, we must be quiet now.”

That can be a challenge with an active child. But there is no way around it, and it is a sacred pleasure to teach our children how to worship.

Children are a challenge, though, not just because they must be taught. Because the Christian faith is not so much taught, as caught.

When the nose runs, and we sneeze and the coughing starts, we say, “I caught a cold.” Now, you didn’t set out to catch a cold – it’s more like the cold caught you than you caught the cold.

Something like that happens with our faith. Someone told you about Jesus. Who was it? Did you meet Jesus Christ when you were an adult? Some people can identify their first moment of faith. Others of us cannot, because from the first weeks of our lives, moms and dads brought us to church.

The story is told of a crowded airport where a man was passing out tracts. An elderly black man was walking toward him and the man with the tracts accosted him. “Sir, can I speak with you?” “Yes,” said the elderly man. “I am going to ask you the most important question of your life.”

Have you been saved?” “Well, I think so,” replied the old man. “That’s not good enough,” said the man in a strong voice waving his tracts in the air. “Can you remember WHEN, you were saved?” continued the man with the tracts. “Not exactly,” replied the old man. “Aha, so you aren’t sure?” said the man with the tracts. “I can’t say exactly when I was saved,” said the old man, “but it was about two thousand years ago.”

Two thousand years ago Jesus died for you. Someone told you about that, and you caught his or her faith.

This is how Timothy in the Bible caught his faith. Paul writes, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.”

That is what we are telling the children in the Locust Valley Reformed Church. And so you see, I contend that THEY are not the future of this church. You are. Because they are catching their faith from you.

How do you come in here Sundays? Excited, anticipating God’s presence, joy-filled? If so, the kinds here will see and hear you and learn, “Oh, this is how someone acts who is coming to worship God.” Do we struggle to meet our budget, giving halfheartedly, or do we plop nice fat gifts in the offering plate that represent the first and best God has given us, giving with cheerfulness, so the children see and hear, “Oh, this is how someone acts in stewardship.” Do we have posters of goats, and maps of foreign countries, and brochures about the Homeless Shelter and soup kitchen, and about writing to senators on behalf of the poor through Bread for the World so our children learn, “Oh, I guess I am my brother’s keeper.” Do they ever see adults in the church eager to get inside their Bibles so they learn that Sunday School classes are not just for little kids, but that Bible study is for the big kids too, the ones who are 36, 56 and 86, so they say, “Oh, I’ll keep on reading the Bible when I’m a grown-up, just like the big people in my church do.” Are they smiled at and loved by the adults in the church so that they know they are part of this covenant community, not just in the dusty doctrine books on the bookshelves, but in the hearts and in the arms of the adult members of the church, so that they say, “I am part of God’s kingdom. I belong here.” Do we allocate whatever is necessary, whatever is necessary in our church budget for Christian education and youth work, saying that nurturing our children in Jesus is important to us, so our children will know, “Oh, we are all responsible for each other here from the least to the greatest. And we children, though we can’t be on committees, or give fifty dollars a week to the church matter too.”

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