Here is what I wrote for the June newsletter on faith and family and spiritual formation:
Festival of the Christian Home
I have begun reading a biography of Martin Luther King Jr. One of the things that has struck me about his childhood is how steeped he was in the faith. By the age of 5 he could recite Scripture and sing entire hymns from memory. Granted, this was an example of what a bright, precocious child he was. However, it got me thinking: my kids are in church every Sunday and they are “PKs” (preachers’ kids), just like he was.
Many of us are raising children in the faith, and care deeply about their spiritual development. All of us have entered the baptismal covenant, promising God to raise these children in the faith. How many of our children could sing and recite, even at age 10? 15? How many of our adults could?
If the answers to these questions make you squirm, join me in feeling uncomfortable.
In the Month of May we celebrate Mother’s Day and in June Father’s Day. There has been a movement within the church for many years to rename these days “Festival of the Christian Home.” Although I am not in the habit of using this term in general conversation, I do find it helpful and challenging; for what we celebrate in the church on these days is the faithful witness of these men and women in the lives of families.
We learn what we live, the old saying goes. Do our homes reflect the life of faith we seek to embody? As I have been meeting with families preparing for baptism, and people preparing for membership vows, I have been sharing my ideal for family prayer and scripture. My ideal is that I would pray every morning as my children go off to school, read Scripture and devotion together at dinner time, and pray with them every night as they go to bed. Here is my reality: we pray every night before bed, and sometimes in the morning, and sometimes at dinner we get out the Bible and discuss it. We are still “going onto perfection” as old Methodists would say.
As my children grow older, I am feeling increasingly convicted that the time I have to share the faith with them is short and precious. So I am resolving to do better, by the grace of God in the strength of the Holy Spirit. I want my children, and all of our children, teenagers, and adults, to hear God’s Word spoken into our daily lives. I challenge us to wrestle, and pray, and talk, and share together, when we gather on Sundays, and every day of the week. Regardless of your family configuration, age, or experience, I invite and encourage you to reflect upon how you live together in a Christian home.
I close by suggesting some resources to use.
• The Upper Room is a wonderful devotional guide that is available for pick up at church, and also can be delivered to your email inbox. http://www.upperroom.org/ (This is good for all ages.)
For Families raising children:
• The Beginner's Bible, Karyn Henley and Dennas Davis, Word Publishing, 1997. (This is my favorite children’s bible for toddlers and elementary school.)
• 365 Family Devotions: Little Visits. Concordia Publishing
• Family, The Forming Center: A Vision of the Role of Family in Spiritual Formation, Marjorie J. Thompson, Upper Room Books, Nashville 1996. (This is a good foundational read.)
• Children and Prayer: A Shared Pilgramage, Betty Shannon Cloyd, Upper Room Books, Nashville 1997. (Another good read.)
For Adults and older youth:
• The Wesley Study Bible, William H. Willimon (Editor), Joel B. Green (Editor)
• The Life with God Bible NRSV, Renovare. Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann, Eugene H. Peterson, Bruce Demarest, Evan Howard, James Earl Massey, Catherine Taylor, Rebecca Gaudino
• A Disciple's Journal - Year B: A Guide for Daily Prayer, Bible Reading, & Discipleship, Steve Manskar
• Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer, Larry James Peacock Striving to be faithful, Pastor Amy