“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk in the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Duet. 6:7 -Pastor Bill
Heritage. What kind of legacy do we have and what kind of legacy will we leave?
There are numerous cultures that have traditions through stories, legends, holidays, religious observations that relate history and important events that have shaped history. The Passover is an excellent example since it has been celebrated for millennia. Every Jewish child is taught thoroughly the meaning of the Passover and how it has formed a nation, a people.
For Christians, The Passover has taken a meaning as well. The institution of the Communion comes from the Passover. We now know who that Passover lamb is. We understand the blood on the post and lintel. We celebrate this Communion on a regular basis. We want to remember the importance and significance of the event. Spiritually, we are impacted in different ways at times as the Spirit shows us something anew in the simple act of taking bread and wine.
The scripture, in the law, instructs the nation and parents in particular to train their children regularly, if not daily, in the ways of God. The scripture indicates that parents need to leave a spiritual heritage and a financial one as well. The passing down of items, stories, history, and character are all important to God. There is a spiritual principle and law involved. God blesses those who love and serve Him for generations. So, a godly man and woman grant blessings to their offspring and their descendants to several generations. Who knows, we could be living the prosperity granted to ancestors we never personally met or know much detail of their lives.
I have sons in the food business. Their heritage in this area comes from several directions. Their grandmother, Cathy’s mom, was in foodservice most of her life. She was the dietitian at the college I attended. She was responsible for feeding 1,200 students three times a day. On my side, my great grandfather was a purveyor of food. He traveled the countryside selling groceries from his wagon, kind of a forerunner of the Schwan trucks.
I taught school for a couple of years and my sister is a retired school teacher. My grandfather and grandmother were school teachers. My grandfather went on from there to be a doctor and a well known surgeon. As I look back at the lives of some of my ancestors, they tended to be hard workers. On my mom’s side, my great uncles were supervisors of water works for major cities. Not everyone is a great success, well known, but everyone leaves some sort of influence.
The admonition to train a child up in the way he should go from Proverbs seems so important to me now. As a father and mother of four children, we worked on it. I think our home was loving, but strict on standards. There were heaps of love and laughter, and times of discipline and tears. Much of those events are now replayed at family gatherings eliciting tons of laughter.
From the position of a pastor, a grandfather, and now, a great grandfather, I am deeply concerned for the heritage or lack of heritage we are providing for our children. While attending the children’s sports events is good, will we be remembered as the old man and woman who watched? I remember my grandmother for the stories she told, the bread she baked, the walks we took, the discussions and debates we had. Will we ever be able to get our kids to look up from their phones? Will there ever be a serious conversation without an interruption of dinging text?
Some might think that moving to rescue family and work toward entrusting the next generation with the Gospel is impossible. Maybe some feel we are too far gone or maybe we are too irrelevant now. Personally, I do not think so. If the Scripture calls for it, then it will work. It is an universal truth; good for all people, in all places, in all times. If that is not true, the scriptures fail to be relevant to this society, and that is not true.
The steps we are taking are not easy. Working to leave a heritage of faith takes work and commitment. The self centeredness of this generation was engendered by our generation. Kids have inherited what has been provided. Parents have been indulgent to the decadence of the youth. The church has entertained, but not instructed. We have seen flickers of spirituality as mission trips and camp have momentarily inspired young people, but the long term, foundational, character training has been missing. Kids have had momentary expressions of God, but do not know His word, His character, His holiness. Most would fail a simple bible test of information and stories. Obviously, from their lifestyles, they have failed the character test because they spout the philosophy of the world, not the Scripture. Even when we work hard at the truth, we have lapses in our young adults. Often those brought up in Christian homes, fail miserably in their character as young adults, choosing the ways of the world, or as John Milton put it, Vanity Fair.
Attempting to turn the tide may seem impossible, but we must die trying if necessary. To do nothing is inexcusable. So, we launch out to leave a legacy, to be a heritage, leave an inheritance.