On behalf of the Pastoral team, I welcome you all to our last Sunday in May.
We thank and praise the Lord for carrying us this far! I trust that you had a great week.
Please allow me to draw your attention to this very important subject of discipling the family. When one reads Deuteronomy 6, you get the sense that God intends the home to be the primary context for teaching children the ways of God. In verses 7-9, we read, “Recite [God’s words] to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your gates”. The home is the most natural setting in which these activities can take place, a home where parents love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and might (Deut. 6:5). It is important to note, however, that the home is to be supported and nurtured in a vital faith community. To enhance spiritual formation and its power, the home church partnership is therefore critical.
When you carefully listen to children, you realize that they seem to naturally and easily believe God. They want to know about God and enjoy God’s presence. In her excellent book Family: The forming Center, Marjorie Thompson refers to this as a “mysterious…seemingly innate, untaught knowledge of God.” If I may ask, what provides children with this early knowing? Writing in the 1700s, John Wesley spoke of “what is vulgarly called natural conscience. But, he claimed, “this is not natural: It is more properly termed preventing grace.” Wesley believed that God extends grace before a person calls for God’s help and that this grace is at work in the heart of every person. This implies that right from the beginning of life, God’s grace is active; the dance with God begins, and spiritual formation is under way.
One may then ask, does spiritual formation simply unfold in response to grace, or are other factors at work? Truth be told, God’s grace in our lives makes spiritual formation and growth possible, but children and adults are formed in the minuscule events of daily life, and those who have the most intimate relationships with children will influence their formation most
profoundly, for good or ill. The home, then is at the heart of spiritual formation for children and for their parents, and that formation takes place in the flow of everyday life. If asked, “How do you nurture the faith of children?” many parents might answer, “We pray with at meals and at bedtime, read the Bible together, and go to church.” Although these are significant experiences for children, relationships with parents and other significant adults provide the most formative influences for children. Stay blessed.
The Very Rev. Canon Michael Mukhwana