Summary: Which is the best place for a child to learn? Its none other but our own homes. Home is the best and the first school of an individual. A home can build and and home can break an individual.
The main theme of the Church was Theological Education: Equipping People of God. The theme is quite relevant in this era. But I felt it to be too scholastic to be preached in Church where the community is mixed and all don’t enjoy high funda theology. Taking that into consideration I thought of preaching from the Old Testament portion based on the Theme – Home: The Place Where God is Unveiled.
Few verses to base my meditation 6:4-5, 10-12
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
I am reminded of one the great Anglican cleric and Christian theologians, John Wesley sharing his view on the Bible. During the last years of his study in seminary he went to a restaurant along with his friends for evening tea. They soon began to discuss on the different versions of the Bible. One of them said “I love the King James Version and I would be using it for my sermons and study. The Old English language used is so captivating.” Hearing this the other commented, “I think the NIV is the best version for it is neither too hard to comprehend nor too easy to be felt as childish.” The third one in their group said “for me the Good News Version is the best, for all in my congregation will be able to understand it without much explanation.” John Wesley maintained silence. On this the friends asked which version you will follow. On being asked again and again he said, “I like my mother’s version.” Hearing this the fellow friends laughed as they knew his mother didn’t have any schooling. They said how can your mother translate when she doesn’t know how to read. To this John Wesley replied, “Her life itself is a translation.”
How will our children know who God is and what God wants from us? It is through the life we will be living. As parents we need to translate the Biblical God through our lives for our children to see and learn. Home is the place where a person spends major portion of his/her life. A statistics shows that an average church goer spends 16% of total life for studies and work, 1% for church activities and the rest 83% spends at home. So I title my sermon Home: The Place Where God is Unveiled.
The read portion is known as Shema – the central prayer in the Jewish prayer book (siddur) and is often the first section of Scripture (Deut 6:4) that a Jewish child learns.
Few things that this passage draws our attention to.
1. Loving God is your First Priority
These instructions are given to the Israelites who have now reached their promised land after all the bondage, toil and trouble. God knows that there are all probabilities and chances of Israelites turning towards many other things as they don’t have much trouble now. God has seen this in their life. On their journey to the Promised Land many a times when things did not go as they wished they made their own gods and started worshipping. So God is commanding and asking them to set Him and no other as their first priority.
God says love me with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. The heart is the foundation of all emotions, the soul is the very life of an individual and God says till the time there is strength for you to speak and for you to worship don’t make excuses. You need to worship me for it is I who have brought you out of slavery.
Is God today our first priority? When God asks us to give tithe it’s not just the money but also the time and resources. When we look back what has been our priority. We have excuses for everything that we do.
Our home should be the place where children should be taught that God has to be given the first priority. Do we take major decisions of our life asking God? All major decisions should be taken as a family asking God in prayer. The children should see this in their parent’s life. Only then will it translate in their life.