Message for October from Pastor Bill
Dear Friends in Christ,
We’ve had a couple of baptisms lately, and we’re planning for the upcoming Confirmation of 6 young people. As I’ve gone through the various materials available for both, I began to think a little about how young people get from Baptism to Confirmation. I know it may sound trite, but I think they do it the same way children learn anything: by watching those around them.
How did babies learn language? By watching and listening to those around them and experimenting with making sounds until they get rewarded for saying a word. How do toddlers learn to walk? By watching and imitating those around them and taking those first hesitant steps like big people do. How do children learn to behave in appropriate ways? By watching and imitating those around them.
Need I say anything about how children come to faith in Jesus Christ? Probably not, but I will anyway. By watching and imitating those around them, especially those closest to them.
And therein lies the rub sometimes. Will children learn about God? Only if those around them make the effort to teach them by example. Sadly, Sunday School isn’t enough. Will children learn to worship God in Christ on a regular basis? Only if those around them show them that worship is important by attending worship with them. Will children learn to serve others in Christ’s name? Only if those around them show them that by serving others we’re serving Christ himself.
One of our Sunday School teachers gets it. During a recent conversation she asked, “How can I teach my young students to worship Jesus if I don’t attend worship?” She worships regularly, and greets her students in worship as often as they attend.
One of our mothers of young children gets it. Her concern? “How can I model the faith for my children, including worship and learning and serving, if I’m not worshiping, learning and serving others in Christ’s name?” This mother attends Bible study, worships regularly and serves others right alongside her children.
One of our other members gets it. Her neighbor’s don’t bring their child to church, but she invited the child to VBS, then Sunday School and worship. The child is thrilled to pieces to come, even reporting that people in the congregation welcome her and call her by name. Our member said, “if I don’t share Jesus with her, who will?”
Over the years, some of our Confirmation students were confirmed and disappeared. Some of their parents got them through Confirmation and disappeared as well. Is Confirmation the goal in our life of faith, or is growing and learning and serving as a follower of Jesus for our entire lives the goal?
I thank God for all you who are models of Christian faith, worship, learning and serving for the children of our congregation, as well as for one another. The Holy Spirit webs us together as the Body of Christ in this time and place as we go about modeling how faith is active in our lives for one another. Take a moment and bring to mind just one person whose life of faith was a model for you, and then ask our Lord to help you be a model for others.
Yours in Christ’s Service,