Tell the Next Generation

One of the things that saddens me most about this pandemic is the church’s reduced opportunities to teach children about God. Sunday School, children’s church, children’s ministry events, and church-based preschool have all been curtailed or altered in some way. My church has just cautiously re-opened preschool with safety and sanitation protocols that were unheard of 12 months ago. We have yet to reopen all of our typical children’s educational opportunities. We gather the kids together safely for some fellowship and outdoor learning activities, but the more traditional classroom settings haven’t been reestablished yet.

Psalm 78 (Common English Version)

Listen, my people, to my teaching;
    tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a proverb.
    I’ll declare riddles from days long gone—
        ones that we’ve heard and learned about,
        ones that our ancestors told us.
We won’t hide them from their descendants;
    we’ll tell the next generation
    all about the praise due the Lord and his strength—
    the wondrous works God has done.

But when you think about it, not being able to gather children in a church building for Christian education should not matter if parents are doing what this Psalm suggests. The best way for kids to learn about their Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer is right at home. Two things need to happen for this to be successful.

First, parents must make an intentional plan for teaching. Bedtime prayers, saying grace before meals, reading every day from a child’s bible or a bible-based story book, and most importantly talking about God as he moves throughout a parent’s life are the beginning steps in a child’s spiritual formation.

But even prior to that, parents need to know the Lord themselves…up close and personal. We can only teach what we know. More accurately, we can only teach WHOM we know. Do you know God?

He established a law for Jacob
    and set up Instruction for Israel,
        ordering our ancestors
        to teach them to their children.

What are you teaching your children and grandchildren about God? Are you living a godly life as an example to them? Do the things they overhear you saying line up with God’s instructions? Because trust me, the children are listening.

This is so that the next generation
    and children not yet born will know these things,
        and so they can rise up and tell their children
    to put their hope in God—
        never forgetting God’s deeds,
        but keeping God’s commandments
.

Today is a good day to begin your own home version of Sunday School. Teach them God’s commandments. Teach them Jesus’ salvation. Teach them to love their neighbor. Teach them who made the stars and the bugs. From sunrise to sunset, teach them that God is LOVE.

And for heaven’s sake, tell them to put their hope in God. They’re gonna need it.

Sunset Hope by Kathy Weeks

Overwash

Highway 12 is the main road that runs north to south on the Outer Banks. It is a narrow two-lane road that is bordered by the ocean on the east and the sound on the west. There are places where it runs through Pea Island National Seashore that are so narrow you can easily walk from ocean to sound in a few minutes.

Highway 12 has been closed for several days due to ocean overwash and wet sand impeding travel. Big swells from Hurricane Teddy and our normal high tides have impacted that little strip of road and our Department of Transportation has struggled to keep up. Water is powerful. Water is sometimes dangerous. Water gets its own way.

I have always lived close to water. I grew up in New Jersey about an hour from the ocean, spent my summers camping by the streams and lakes of Central Pennsylvania, and now live on a canal that opens out to a harbor and the sound. My “At Water’s Edge” life is a metaphor for the beautiful power that water has over our lives. It sustains us, nourishes us, cleanses us, satiates us, keeps us alive, and even symbolizes our initiation into the household of God at our baptisms. Water is essential to life…yet too much of it can be deadly. Not enough of it can be fatal as well.

Psalm 78 (Common English Bible)

But God performed wonders in their ancestors’ presence—
    in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 God split the sea and led them through,
    making the waters stand up like a wall.

This amazing image of God parting the Red Sea so that the thousands of Hebrews could walk across on dry land is stunning. He made the waters stand up like a WALL. It is a timely reminder that no matter what you are dealing with today, God’s power can easily move it aside so that you can safely walk through it.

14 God led them with the cloud by day;
    by the lightning all through the night.

Then God combined water vapor with air and created a cloud for his people to follow. It gave them much needed direction and the assurance that as long as they followed him they would be all right. It was a tangible reminder of God’s abiding presence. Are you feeling alone? Look up. God’s cloud is with you.

15 God split rocks open in the wilderness,
    gave them plenty to drink—
    as if from the deep itself!

When they were almost perishing from lack of water, God split rocks in the desert and made clean, potable water flow out. They had plenty to drink…from rocks. If God can do this, is there nothing he wouldn’t do to save you from your situation?

16 God made streams flow from the rock,
    made water run like rivers.

Yes, water is powerful and often dangerous. But God is greater than all of that. So if you feel like you are drowning today, reach up. God will surely grasp you by the hand and pull you out. Ask him to wash over you with his grace, mercy, and healing and he will lead you across the dry land to his safe place.

Highway 12 Overwash by Tim Fitch