Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)
After worship today we had a luncheon recognizing Nursery volunteers. Our coordinator shared Psalm 127:3 and noted how important children are in the life of the faith family. She called the names of those who are serving in nursery care. It was quite impressive to hear of the many women, men, and teens devoting their time to see that the youngest among us are cared for in Christ.
This day also happens to be my grandson’s second birthday. I don’t see him often, but each time I do he is a delight. Unlike his older sister who has the vocabulary of an Oxford grad, he is the daredevil in the family. All boy, as they say. We were playing on their jungle gym and I noticed when he got to the bottom of the slide his boots had fallen off. Not being used to the mind of a two year old, I said, “Put your boots somewhere where you will find them.” The next thing I know, he was at the top of the ladder, carrying his boots, barely hanging on. He reached the top and proudly handed them to me. I praised him, but also cried a bit at what could have been.
When God’s people Israel were stumbling around in the desert, with only the Lord as their guide, they had no idea how to live. Apart from the Lord, they were lost. God would lead them into the Promised Land yet God also knew that without His constant instruction, they would fall astray and give into false ways. Their children would follow false teachings and teach their children to do so as well. The “heritage from the Lord” promised by the Psalmist would be forsaken.
The last thing God wanted was for His people to turn away and follow false gods. So he gave clear instructions, meant to be passed on for generations:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
It’s hard to be a parent these days. There is so much temptation, so much pressure, for children to follow ways other than God’s. I look back on my days as a father and there are many things I regret. It’s true I did the basics. Pray with them. Bring them with me to church. Read the Bible to them. But what about all the opportunities I missed because I was too weary, too absent, too… many things?
But today is not a day to mourn past failures. It is a day to celebrate present happenings and look forward to future possibilities. Those of you working in the Nursery play a vital role in passing on the Christian faith to children who not only will become the church, but are the church. You bolster parents by giving them a chance to be replenished in worship so they can spiritually nourish their children. You serve Christ by caring for the kingdom children Jesus embraced. Whether you read Bible stories, sing to them, even offer an encouraging or corrective word, you represent the body of Christ and they come to know God in part through you.
Today we had several visitors who worshiped with us and stayed for the luncheon. One man just moved to our community for a job he starts tomorrow. I spoke with him right after the recognition of Nursery volunteers and his face was beaming. Sort of a mix of joy and relief. God had led him to a faith community where he can raise his children with confidence that they would faithfully grow in the Spirit of Christ. What a delightful heritage!
It’s hard work being a parent these days. We will make mistakes, but within a caring body of Christ, we can get the help we need. The fruit of the womb become magnificently faithful trees of glory to God.