Sunday, July 23, 2023

Train up a child...

A child hardly ever understands or appreciates what he or she is taught or the decisions made by well-meaning parents.  There is some confusion today that suggests that perhaps we ought to wait to make those choices on behalf of our children until they get them and agree with them.  This is especially true of matters of faith but not only so.  How foolish it is to presume that in order to benefit from such things we must understand, appreciate, and consent to them!

We daily use a ton of things whose technology and operation we do not understand or appreciate but we employ them for work, leisure, and fun.  Can any of us figure out how the binary language of computers and codes can turn a symphony into data and then replay at will?  Or how a smart phone works to do all that we want it to do?  Or how the electricity works in your home or bluetooth or wifi?  Of course, we do know when it does not work and complain and wait for days on tech queues to get it working again.  We do not understand what they do to fix it and we will never remember it for the next time it stops working but we appreciate the devices when they do what we purchased them to do.

There is much that happens on Sunday morning that a child does not understand or appreciate.  Perhaps there is even more than none of us as adults really gets.  In any case, the value does not simply lie in the understanding but in the participation -- faith at work.  Training up a child in the way he should go was said long before we had worship folders or hymnals to keep us attuned to what is going on.  In the mystery of holy sacrifices and holy smoke in the temple and solemnly treated scrolls on the synagogue, the children of the children of Israel learned what to do before they knew why.  For much of Judah's history the rites of the temple remained long after the people and their leaders had traded them away for the next best deity of the day.  In their midst was the place were restoration took place and from it the call to repent even while the orders of the ages were lived out.  It is still that way.  Thousands of cars drive past our church on Sunday morning while bells ring and parking lots proclaim the mystery of what is happening here.

Teach your child what to do while in the Lord's House.  He or she may not be ready to absorb the reasons for it all and need not at this point to learn the rhythm and postures and direction of what happens in the Lord's House on the Lord's day.  Teach by example.  Only if your children know it is important to you will they learn that it should be important to them as well.  God did not give us kids to entertain but to train and the Lord's day in the Lord's House is the setting where that training takes place.  Let them know you are glad when the Lord said to you -- come and enter into My presence.  It is not a mental state but a full body participation that God has supplied so that His presence lives not in some imagined place but in the real splash of water, the power of words with authority, and the taste of bread and wine.  Train up a child on Sunday morning.  It will haunt the child as long as they live -- in a good way.  And if God is merciful, if they fall away, it will lead them back home.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

Even St. John, and of course, Jesus call adults, “little children.” As adults, it would behoove us to worry less about what children understand, and MUCH less about what we don’t understand. If the mysteries of the Faith confound us, but we still believe, we are little children. It is when we refuse to believe the Truth we cannot understand that places our souls in deep danger.