Summary: Part I of the Four-Part Vision: We focus on what God has asked his people to do: Pass my word on to your children and to your children’s children. Let your lives be permeated with the task of "making disciples"!
Text:  Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. [8a] Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today… Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,  so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth…  See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse-  the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; [28a] the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 11 – selected verses)
God commanded his people to teach the faith. There are few words that say this more clearly than our sermon text for today. We are instructed to insure that God’s word is faithfully passed on from one generation to the next. The job of teaching the commandments to our children and our children’s children is a priority for God’s people. It is the task on which we are to focus as we wake up in the morning, as we sit in our homes, as we work, as we get ready to lay down to sleep. And God tells us to take this task that He has given us with great seriousness. In fact, God gives us a choice: There is a blessing for us if we do this. There is a curse if we fail to pass on the commandments of God to our children and our children’s children.
Gretchen could not remember when the church was not part of her life. She had been baptized in church. She grew up in church. She even met her husband, Sam, in church. For both of them, church and church activities seemed natural and normal – the way life was supposed to be. Their worldview – how they saw life and how they made their most important decisions - had been largely formed around the teachings of the church.
Joey was Gretchen and Sam’s oldest boy. His parents took him to church regularly. But church was not the center of Joey’s growing years. He was a busy young man with lots of activities at school and outside of school. Joey grew up as times began to change. He was a young teen during the late 1960’s and was profoundly affected by the changes in society. He remembers the protests and how important institutions - even the Presidency, seemed to be crumbling. By the time Joey got married to Marie, got a job in a big city and started his own family, church had become a place to go on special occasions – weddings, funerals and such.
Joey and Marie had their first child, Ricky, they didn’t think to baptize him – it just wasn’t on their radar screen. To Joey and Marie, baptism was a ceremony and not much more than that. Besides, they thought that when Ricky got older, he could make his own decisions about religion. By the time Ricky was a teen, he had been to church only a few times on Christmas. So Ricky knew very little about the church and almost nothing about the Bible. There are lots of Rickys in the world.
It was the season of Lent. One day a former parishioner of mine wore a beautiful three-cross broach: a larger cross in between two smaller crosses. She was at the grocery store and was paying for her groceries. The cashier at the grocery store pointed to the three-cross brooch and said, “That’s a cool; what does it mean?” My parishioner was quite surprised that the young lady didn’t know. “Oh, it’s an Easter symbol.” “Easter?” the young lady asked.
Many today are completely secularized. Does this sound familiar? The sad fact is that this story has repeated itself thousands of times. When we talk about passing the faith from one generation to the next, the ball has been fumbled so many times that, that right now, as we speak, North America has been classified by LCMS World Missions as the third largest mission field in the world. Some church scholars think that the future of Christianity on the North American continent is in jeopardy. The real tragedy is that so many people are not learning about God’s love and forgiveness in Christ and so heaven is being lost to thousands of people.