by David Browder: I looked at my children and had a bit of a revelation: one day, those tiny little growing people will be adults. They will go to school and go into careers. They will meet young women, get married, and have grandchildren for Kari and me. They will be adults, husbands, fathers, and working men a lot longer than they will be children in my home.
Initially, I felt sadness that I will have them for so short at time — but I also felt great curiousity: What will they look like when they are grown? What will they do with their lives? What sort of young woman will arrest their attention? How will they make it through the lows of their lives? What will be the highs?
Highs and lows. That got me thinking: What will ground them? When everything fails, what will give them hope? What will get them to put one foot in front of the other? That is where their mother and their father come in. Yes, we provide for them and we work hard to make sure they get a good education. We socialize them and we engage them in sports so they can learn how to work on a team and can get some exercise.
But, what is the most valuable gift we can give them, other than that — a gift bigger and more eternal than even parental support? It is the gift of the Gospel — the gift of knowing Christ. The gift of the Gospel is the gift that puts everything else in perspective. It is the gift that enables our children to treat worldly things — relationships, careers, material goods, family — as good things to cultivate and enjoy; but it also teaches them not to hold these things as the ultimate good.
At our vestry retreat, we settled on four things to focus on this year: Mission and evangelism, stewardship, Christian formation, and communication. Christian formation is the topic I am addressing today and it is close to my heart as a pastor. We have implemented Sunday School as our Bible teaching time, Children’s Church as our time to teach worship, and catechesis as our time to teach the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but we want to build on it.
The idea is to spend years teaching our children the three aspects of the Faith I describe above. Then — when it is time for Confirmation — they will already be catechized, understanding the Faith as deeply as possible. In this Confirmation class, I have a confirmand who has been with us through our Sunday Formation program. I have been impressed with what he has learned: this young man knows the Faith and understands it. All of our hard work is paying off in him.
We need to take successes like these and build on them — make them even better. The payoff is an adult son or daughter who knows Christ, and, through Him, has a life of deep, divine meaning even in the face of life’s difficulties. The payoff is grandchildren who are taught about Jesus by parents who know Him. Generational wounds are healed and real flourishing occurs. It is a fruit of our labor that will be a joy to behold.