What does it mean to have faith passed down? We are all unique individuals, with our own God-given gifts for us to reveal and present to society. With that said, we are also the products of our parents/guardians, for our behaviors are molded to a degree by those who had the most influence upon us during our formative years. The very practices parents engage in, whether good or bad, can be absorbed into future behaviors of our children. These behaviors include the faith practices we have ingrained into our children. A few of these good practices include praying with our children and reading the Bible with them, as well as regularly attending worship. If our kids do not see their role models engaging in faith practices, how do we expect them to pick it up on their own?
Paul brings up this topic of faith formation in the 2 Timothy passage by commenting how Timothy’s mother and grandmother were an important factor in the faith development of one of his most highly regarded students, his apostle and successor Timothy. “I am reminded of your most sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, lives in you.” There are many activities our children do that keep the calendar full and make them well-rounded in order to be successful in life. However, let’s not forget the importance of their faith formation and of making room for God in their busy schedule. By creating healthy faith practices early on, our children will have the necessary skills to know how to connect with God during the ups and downs of life.
The Rich Man & Lazarus –Luke 16:19-31
We spend a good amount time at church talking about caring for one another, especially those who might be challenged with illnesses, disabilities and economic strife. This week our text from Luke is a parable about a rich man who ignored the needs of a poor man named Lazarus (not to be confused with the Lazarus of Bethany who Jesus raised from the dead.). When Lazarus died, he went directly to heaven to be by the side of the prophet Abraham. However, when the rich man died, he was sent to suffer eternity in Hades. The rich man looked up to see all the goodness Lazarus was receiving in heaven, and he questioned why he must suffer and be tormented, while the poor man enjoyed the treasures of heaven? Abraham made it very clear to the rich man that Lazarus had suffered a great deal in life, while he had lived it up with many comforts and had good things. It is important to understand the parable is not about salvation, but rather how we take care of those with various challenges in life. At Westminster, we have people from all walks of life, from various places in the world. Our members include people with a variety of social and economic statuses to individuals challenged with disabilities. Our backgrounds are vast, and some of us are newer to church than others. However, we come together to praise God and serve in Jesus’ name. As we move about the community this week, be prayerful of welcoming everyone, for we are all deserving of God’s love.
Children typically have an understanding of lost and found. Parents have been there before when a favorite toy suddenly goes missing and our lives go upside down and all around until the missing toy is among the found again. Our text focuses upon two parables about seeking what is lost. The first is the shepherd who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to bring back the one that strayed away. The second is about a woman who exhaustively searches her entire home for a single lost coin. Both stories elaborate the importance of ministering to those who are among the lost in our society. Often times those who are lost are living on the fringes and we might feel uncomfortable reaching out to them for one reason or another. Jesus ate with the sinners and tax collectors to show that we are all deserving of God’s love. What are practices that you can do to show examples of this kind of extravagant love to show our children how to safely reach out to those in need?
I get a bit of a chuckle when I see an established business having a Grand Re-Opening ceremony or better yet, they go out with all glory and have another Grand Opening. Being a former marketing manager, I get a thrill seeing someone trying to rebrand something old into something new and improved with very little actual replacement of the old with the new. I wonder, how can a Grand Opening banner and some colorful balloons have the power of making something new? In order for something to be new, the old needs to be replaced. Our scripture from Revelation brings this to light by making it clear that in order for a new heaven and a new earth to take place, the first (old) earth must pass away. We see this displayed every year with the change of seasons from the absence of new life in winter to the budding rebirth and colorful brilliance of bloom in the spring. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ makes all things new for us, for that’s what Easter brings. We are in the fifth week of the Eastertide and we are reminded not to revert back to the past. Have the confidence to know that God is with us and has made our hearts anew.
-Peter Raises Tabitha, Acts 9:36-43
What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? A disciple is one who is totally loyal to the teachings of Jesus and exhaustively practices these principles in their own walk of faith. A disciple puts God first and serves those who are on the fringes of society in Jesus’ name. The kids will discover an incredible disciple this week named Tabitha. Peter found Tabitha to be a devoted disciple of Christ who was respected by many, especially the widows she helped by making them clothing. The widows had praised Tabitha for her service to those in need. The widows had called Peter because Tabitha had suddenly fallen ill and died. As the widows prepared Tabitha for burial they bathed her and laid her in state along side the many beautiful garments she had made. Peter was so moved by the charitable acts of Tabitha that he earnestly prayed for her to live and commanded Tabitha to get up. Miraculously she opened her eyes and was among the living again. Tabitha took Jesus’ command of serving others seriously. Luke chooses a fitting way to honor this disciple by having the very people she helped pay tribute to her. I consider Tabitha to by one of the great “silent disciples” of the Bible. I encourage you this week to discuss the story of Tabitha with your kids. Discuss the wonderful “silent disciples” you have come across in your life and how they made a difference. Ask your kids who they might consider to be a “silent disciple” and what qualities make that person so special?
Saul Meets Jesus – Acts 9:1-20
Where do we encounter God? In our scripture, Saul a persecutor of the early church encountered God on the road to Damascus. Saul was blinded by a light and God’s voice boomed over him with the powerful words: “Why do you persecute me?” While we do have encounters with God they may not be necessarily as dramatic as Saul’s experience. God does come into our own time and place if we invite God in to guide us. God can be found in many places and spaces from our quite times, through the actions of others and so many moments in our day. Encourage kids to discover God in the subtler movements in life. For it may be a small whisper or action that God reaches out to us. God is and forever be with us.
We are coming to the conclusion of the Lenten season as we enter Holy Week and move into the celebration time of Easter. Being Easter people we may want to fast forward from the pomp and circumstance of Palm Sunday and move right into Easter. In doing this, it would be like only eating dessert and passing on the nourishment of the main course. There are at least two key events that are critical components to our Christian faith, the Last Supper and Jesus’ suffering on the cross. When we participate in Holy Communion we are remembering the last supper Jesus had with his disciples and the suffering he experienced on the cross. God’s presence is made known to us by His grace offered unconditionally to us. It is important to allow our kids to experience the happenings in worship this week from the Parade of Palms on Palm Sunday to our Maundy Thursday service. Let's encourage our children to ask questions regarding the events of the Passion for this all part of the development of their faith. .