“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-9
A few years ago, I participated in an Advent study which changed how I viewed this passage from Deuteronomy (known as the Shema) and inspired my passion for ministry. In this study, the author pointed out that while Mary certainly had questions when the angel visited her and announced that God had called her to give birth to the Messiah, she was able to respond in obedience to God’s call on her life because she knew the prophecies, the scriptures that foretold the coming of Jesus. As a child, Mary’s family would have lived the commands of the Shema. Hearing the stories of God’s love for his people and hearing the prophecies of the promised Messiah would have been part of Mary’s faith formation experience. As I reflected on how Mary’s understanding of scripture impacted her ability to respond to God’s call in her life, I shuddered. What if my children did not respond to God’s call because they weren’t able to recognize His voice in their lives? What if the children and adults of our church and community can’t respond to God because they don’t know His word?
As a parent, I want to do all I can to help my children grow in their relationship with Christ, Along the way, I stumble and fall short, but my heart’s desire is to nurture the faith development of my children; to do all I can so that they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and be able to recognize God’s voice when He calls them. It brings me great joy when I see glimpses of the ways that God is at work in their lives. In a recent card, my daughters wrote a thank you note and ended it with, “And most of all, thank you for teaching me about God!” Our family is far from perfect, but what a blessing it was to read these words!
As a faith community we vow as each child is baptized to be involved in the nurture and faith formation of our children. Sometimes this means finding new ways to engage our children in faith formation experiences in worship, small groups and opportunities to serve. Sometimes this means finding ways to support and nurture parents and grandparents. Sometimes this means getting involved in the lives of our children, whether we are parents or not, simply to share our faith and love of Jesus so that we can “tell the next generation the wonders of the Lord.” (Psalm 78:4)
This Advent, my prayer is that you will spend some time sharing the stories of Jesus with a child. Make a difference for Jesus in the lives of a teen or young adult by telling them your story. Tell them how God has made a difference in your life. Tell them of the wonders He has done. Talk about His love, His promises, and His grace. Talk about Jesus when you sit at home or when you drive along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. May we all write His story on the door frames of our homes and our hearts.
Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to teach us how to live and how to love. As we embrace Your story this Advent season, help us to share it with others, especially our children and youth.
Note: Check out the miniature Torah on display in Faith UMC’s Library.
How do you share stories of faith in your family? Click ‘leave a comment’ or ‘reply here’ to share your thoughts and reflections!