“O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” —Psalm 71:17-18
A few weeks ago, I sat with my son at Busch Stadium watching the St. Louis Cardinals play. Over my shoulder was a father with his four-year old son. The boy peppered his father with questions about the colors and the symbols. But he caught on remarkably quickly. He learned all of the rituals of a day at the ball park. He picked up when to shout “charge” and when to stand up and when to clap. And he liked to yell, “Go Yadi!” His father never tired of his questions and he kept pointing out other things too. The little guy was just a sponge and he soaked it all up.
What struck me is how much the conversation seemed like what a father can do in worship, whether at home or church. There were simple explanations without a lot of history and jargon. The father taught his son to appreciate what had been passed on to him. They stood and sang and cheered together. From the national anthem to the seventh inning stretch and all of the responses in between, the father and son joined with the rest of the assembly in word, chant, song and acts.
Here was a four-year old son who hung on every word his father spoke. What a glorious thing it could be if fathers had the same joy in teaching their children the Christian faith and worship. God’s design for the teaching of the faith was that fathers and mothers would teach their own children the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. Parents can teach their children who Christ is and why we praise Him for what He has done. We do not want quiet churches. We want churches with crying babies and families sitting down front where four-year old sons ask their fathers (not so quietly) questions all through the service and the fathers take great joy in teaching their sons. We want active, noisy churches where children are being taught about Christ and the Church’s response. Four-year old boys can stand and sing and sit and listen and ask questions and wonder out loud. They do it every day. Congregations can do a better job of inviting children to be children and equipping parents to teach them. For our goal is that they be taught the faith for a lifetime and even for eternity.
The last thing that struck me about the father and son was that it made me think of both my first ball-game with my father, but also my son some day taking his own son to a game. That’s what God’s design is for the home. My father taught the faith to me. I, in turn, passed on the faith to my children so that one day they would be able to teach their own children. The Christian faith and the Church’s song are not too difficult for parents to teach and children to grasp. Baseball is full of analytics that I do not begin to fully understand. But I can sit in the bleachers with my son and teach him the joy of the game. Parents do not have to know all of the same information that pastors know to be able to instill in their children the joy of life in Christ. May God help our congregations to equip parents to teach their children the Christian faith for eternity and may they, in turn, teach their children.
Prayer – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, You designed marriage to be a source of mutual support and encouragement and for the procreation of children. By Your Holy Spirit, working through the Word, equip and strengthen parents to teach the faith to their children that they might know the joy of everlasting life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan