“And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’”
When the Lord gives instructions regarding the Passover meal to Israel through Moses, it is made clear that this is not a one-time event, but a means by which the observance of the rite would be an opportunity for God’s deliverance to be taught in the home to children for generations to be come. His design that is described here is that parents would recognize that God has entrusted children to their care as a stewardship. The primary responsibility then of parents is to teach children who God is and what God has done, is doing and will do in the future, for us.
In his explanation to the Fourth Commandment in the Large Catechism, Martin Luther writes, God has given this walk of life, fatherhood and motherhood, a special position of honor, higher than that of any other walk of life under it.” (Kolb-Wengert, 105. He expounds further, “Therefore, let all people know that it is their chief duty – at the risk of losing divine grace – first to bring up their children in the fear and knowledge of God.” (174) Prominent Lutheran author and layman Gene Edward Veith has written Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, with his daughter, Mary Moerbe. In it they write, “Parents are to teach the words of God ‘diligently to your children.’ God’s words should also be a major topic of conversation in the household and in the course of everyday life, from morning to night. Luther, you will recall, wanted the Bible to be central in the lives of every Christian. He translated the Scriptures into the language of the people. But most people could not read. So Luther opened schools to teach all people – peasants, as well as the prosperous, girls as well as boys, how to read the Bible. But Luther did not just want Bible-reading schools. Because of his doctrine of vocation, he wanted children to have access to all kinds of learning, equipping them for all kinds of service in the world.” (153)
The Missouri District office, staff and leadership cannot strengthen families. However, we believe that it is vitally important that we provide greater assistance and support to our congregations and schools in equipping God’s people to teach the faith in the home. Luther recognized the great need for assistance for parents in teaching the faith in the home and so he developed the Small Catechism as a tool to be used to instructing children. The Missouri District stands ready walk alongside of congregations in engaging communities, but also in the task of strengthening families.
The Tell the Next Generation Family Ministry Conference on March 9 is an example of how we can highlight the importance of this task. But way that the district can support congregations will be by providing coaches to assist in the task of equipping parents and families of all shapes and sizes so that Christ is the center of the home. We hope that your congregation is equipping every family to fulfill God’s design for the home to be where faith is shaped and formed by God’s Word. Like in Luther’s day, many families may feel ill equipped for this task. That is where the church can assist! We hope to see you at the Tell the Next Generation conference. May God bless us in this vital task of strengthening families to carry out their God-given responsibilities.
Prayer – Visit, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, and keep all harm and danger far from them. Grant that we may dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels, sharing eternally in Your blessings; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan