"Point your kids in the right direction - - when they are older
they won't be lost"
Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)
As the autumn approaches and the school year begins, we at First Pres Valpo are looking forward to a very exciting autumn. Along with the highly anticipated arrival of our Pastor Kim Adams there will be lots of new opportunities to grow in our faith. Our Christian Education Team under the outstanding leadership of Ken Crews will be bringing a new and creative approach to Christian education this year.
Whenever a child is baptized in our worship service, one of the questions is asked of the congregation is: "Our Lord Jesus Christ ordered us to teach those who are baptized. Do you, the people of the church, promise to tell this child the good news of the gospel, to help him/her know all that Christ commands, and by your fellowship, to strengthen his/her family ties with the household of God?" and we, as the gathered church, stand up and say "We do!"
In today's culture it is often very difficult for children to find their way to a healthy and happy lifestyle. The media culture is determinedly opposed to the Christian lifestyle of faith, hope, love, and concern for others. We are bombarded with messages that entice our children to follow a variety of destructive pathways. Cyberbullying and gun violence can also in some cases make young people fearful of being a part of the social fabric.
All of this puts a heavy burden on today's parents to guide and protect their children. Last Sunday, Leila Buford reminded the children and all of us how important it is for parents to make sure their children are a part of the church so they know that God loves them and can be trusted to lead them.
Maybe there was a time when parents could depend on the culture to help them raise their children into healthy and happy adults. That is certainly not the case today. It is more important than ever that we as a church develop meaningful opportunities for our children and youth; that we love and support them as they grow to adulthood - - to "strengthen their family ties with the household of God" as we vow in their baptism. Parenthood is a difficult and sacrificial ministry, one that needs to be supported by our church community with prayer and love and inviting activities.
The author of the Book of Proverbs supported the work of parents. The familiar verse in the RSV that is translated above in "The Message" said, Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is grown, he will not depart from it. When parents are deciding on any given Sunday whether or not they will bring their children to church and participate in Christian education, may they remember this story:
"Once upon a time some parents were invited to bring their children to church, and they thought, "Sunday is the only day I can sleep late and read the paper."
The drug pusher on the school yard said: "I don't take a day off. I will work with the children even if I go to jail for it."
Some parents of teens said: "Our kids want to play sports on Sundays."
Movie producers and TV networks said, "We will study, survey, recruit the finest educational minds to produce whatever turns kids on and supports our sponsors."
Some parents said: "I just don't have time to go to church."
The pornographer and the pusher said: "We will stay open day and night, whatever it takes to win the minds of the children and youth."
Parents have a hard job to keep their children focused on how to live and grow into a healthy lifestyle when our culture surrounds the children with negative models packaged in very attractive forms.
God has placed children and youth in our midst so that we can help guide them in the right paths that will bring them success and joy in life. Surely that is a primary ministry of a healthy and active church family. May we all work and pray together to love and support the children and youth that God leads to our church and to support their parents in their ministry.
Pastor Nancy Becker