On Sunday, September 23rd, I was preaching on the example Jesus used of the child to teach His disciples the meaning of greatness. They needed to be like a child where the things that matter are expressions of joy, love and trust in the Lord. At the second service, the front row, which is almost always filled completely with our middle and high school youth, got involved. (We’ve got some great kids which help keep hope burning brightly within me when seeing our world today.) These youth are very involved in the church and have a solid faith in Christ, which in today’s world is special indeed.
In the sermon I used an illustration of how a CBS poll estimated that there are about 93 million selfies taken every day. Well, they were listening because at the end of the service I was bombed with every one of them coming up to me and taking a selfie picture. Two by two, a youth with camera and me, again and again and again until all of them, with a few extras from the congregation thrown in, had taken a picture with me.
I don’t know if those pictures will turn up anywhere. It was threatened with the biggest grins and chuckles that they might pop up on the church web page or, worse, Facebook. It was fun for them and me, whatever happens. But there is more.
Due to the demands here at church on several issues and helping Karen with her therapy, I had missed out on the first few chapel sessions with the children from the day school. Our children’s minister, Donna, filled in and did a great job, but it wasn’t me. This past week we were together. It’s always a special time as the children get to know me and I get to know them. It’s a time I treasure.
To top it all off, my oldest daughter and her fiancée are coming for a visit from Minnesota. Sadly, the grandkids have to stay at home because of school, but at least they are coming for five days. I wish all the kids and grandkids could come since we missed out again this year from seeing them. It’s been two years. This year because of Karen’s knee surgery and last year because of my legs being operated on. It’s tough when Papa and Grandma don’t get to see them. We miss them.
Dan and Dawn will be helping out with stuff around the house which will be a wonderful blessing. I’ve even decided to take several of those days off so I can spend some real time with them. That’s important.
Whether it is as a parent or grandparents or adults, we need to spend time with our children and youth. However, just as important as spending quality time with our children and youth is how we spend that time. I can’t think of a richer, more rewarding way of spending time than with God.
I am well aware that for many adults, parents and grandparents included, time shared in sports with our kids is a primary concern. However, we have gone way beyond the joy of watching our kids play in some sporting endeavor. We have deified sports into a god that must be worshiped and sacrificed to with total commitment and surrender. It’s no longer the inter-school games played for competition and bragging rights. It is team sports and club sports gone to extremes in that every weekend is filled with practices, games or tournaments. Even Sundays are no longer sacred for they have become the feeding ground for tournament events where people must drive for hours to reach their playing field altar. What happened to coming to God’s house and engaging in worship as a family on God’s day?
We parents and adults need to see in our children the joy, love and trust they have which is the key to our relationship with God. They are the model Jesus holds up for us to follow. But that goes two ways. Our Lord also expects us to be an example, guide and inspiration for our children in faith and devotion, service and commitment to eternal things. Ignoring God and not having a personal relationship of faith with Him in Jesus Christ is also teaching our children lessons we don’t want them to learn.
Maybe it’s time to take a stand on what’s right by beginning with something simple on a way of spending time with our children. Why not try coming to church for one hour of worship and some time in Christian education to grow in spirit as a family? One is never too old or too young to spend time in God’s house. I promise it will be quality time well spent.
Besides, long after the joints have worn out, gravity has done its work, and our aches and pains remind us of our age, our kids, as they grow up, can still join us and come to God’s house and excel in Christ-like living.
And those are my thoughts.
Pastor Lee R. Harder