Summary: Things we can do to help our children grow in Christ.
When I was in the third grade, I had a teacher who would often lose her patience. I don’t remember what we did that aggravated her so, but I suppose we gave her good reasons to become upset with us. I suspect that the one thing that upset her was that we did not always listen as we should have. One of the favorite phrases she liked to use with us was, “Oh, if I could, I would open up your heads and pour the knowledge into your brains, but I can’t. So you have to listen.”
And when she would talk about this, I would stop listening. The imagery that she used fascinated me as a third grader and I would begin to daydream. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have my head ripped open by a teacher. I tried to picture what it looks like for a teacher to take a big glass pitcher and pour liquid knowledge into my brain. I wondered what color this knowledge was – green? Red? What?
But of course, that wasn’t what my teacher was trying to get me to do -- she didn’t want me daydreaming she wanted me to pay attention. Teaching and learning are hard tasks and you have to pay attention.
The subject might be Algebra and the teacher a high school teacher.
The subject might be how to ride a bike and the teacher your father.
The subject might be how to catch bass in the lake, and the teacher your grandparent.
Whatever the subject, teaching and learning are work.
Teaching the faith to our children is no different. Watching our children grow up one has to wonder if the children will have faith.
When they are adults, will they believe in God; will they govern their lives by God’s moral law?
Will they pray in times of difficulties, or give Him praise in times of joy?
Now don’t think that I’m talking only to the parents in this Sanctuary, let’s stop and think about this.
How many of you are parents of young children who live in your home?
How many of you are grandparents?
How many of you someday want to be parents, grandparents, or great grandparents?
How many of you are teachers in the school system?
How many of you are volunteers who work here at the church with children or youth groups?
How many of you have ever seen a baptism and answered the question, “Do you promise to do to guide and nurture this child by word and deed, with love and prayer, to be a faithful member of this church?”
Most Christian denominations have that question as part of the baptism service for infants. This is not just a Presbyterian issue. The Methodist Church does it as well, and Will Willimon, who was a pastor of a church in South Carolina years ago, did a baptism.
The question was asked: “Do you promise to do to guide and nurture this child by word and deed, with love and prayer, to be a faithful member of this church?”
The answer was given with a soft and holy murmur, “wedo”.
The water was sprinkled onto the child and the child handed back to the parents. The congregation stood and sang a hymn and at the end of the service, everyone was leaving the church to head for the local steak houses.
Will Willimon was standing at the doorway of the Sanctuary shaking hands with all of the people as they left the Sanctuary.
One young child came up to Willimon and tugged at his pulpit robe.
Will looked down and saw a 3-foot tall, not-yet-literate or reading six year old.
“Where’s this kid I promised to take responsibility for,” the child asked. “I want to meet him.”
Willimon smiled and mumbled something about his family having already left. But it occurred to him later – in all the congregation, that child was the only one – the only one who left the church remembering the burden of responsibility.
It doesn’t matter of you are a parent or not.
It doesn’t even matter if you are an adult or a child.
We all have a great responsibility to do what we can to see that the children in our midst have faith.
It is no easy task – to teach the children the faith.
Our Old Testament Lesson for this morning comes from Deuteronomy. We are commanded here to teach the children the faith. Our response to that Scripture might be to say with a sigh, “easier said than done.”
How do you teach the children to have faith?
Deuteronomy gives us some direction.
First, children learn by example. Our example.
If the children are to have faith, they should see it in us. Our Old Testament lesson from Deuteronomy emphasizes the fact that before we can teach a child faith, WE must first have faith.