From the Pen of Pastor Barb Lemke
“Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Amazingly enough, I have been a pastor for over 28 years, and in all these years, plus internship, children have been of the utmost importance in the minds of those calling me as pastor. This is as it should be, as children, very young and those in their teenage years, are God’s gifts to us. Whether it is the Old Testament we look to OR the New we hear of the importance of our children learning about our God. The One who has created them, loves them, will walk with them throughout their lives and the One who gives them life.
One of the difficulties as a solo pastor, is the dependence on the community to stand up to be involved with the youth of the congregation. I am very pleased that so many of you have stepped to the plate to support our children. You faithfully supported them financially as we sent them to New Orleans for the ELCA Youth Gathering. You have provided Vacation Bible School, Sunday School and Continuation materials so they can learn of the great and loving God we serve. You support Bethel Christian School and are providing an environment that proclaims day in and day out the great love of Jesus to many children. So, what more can we do, as members of the congregation, to create an atmosphere in which our youth can thrive.
So here goes! It ALL begins with you parents and grandparents! We can do what we can as a community and God will, and does, bless our ministry, but as we read in Proverbs 22:6, “Start children of on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ” It doesn’t say, “A pastor should train a child.” It doesn ’t say, “A youth director should train a child.” It doesn’t say, “A Sunday School teacher should train a child.” The implication is that the parent, the family, as well as the community should train the child.
When God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt and gave them the commandments this is what is said to them in Deuteronomy 6:4-9,
“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.”
Parents, your role is to impress on your children God’s love. . . to talk about them when at home and when you walk with them. . . drive in the car with them. . . put them to bed. . . the implication is that in the home the focus for the parents in raising their children is on the Lord. They are watching and learning from YOU.
My prayers for this year is that we as a congregation will encourage parents and grandparents as we “together” work towards the “raising” of “our” children (those God has blessed us with) in God’s ways. Be an encouragement. Check to see if our young families are in need of support. Stop into Sunday School. Come read at BCS. We have an obligation to our children that they come to know the incredible love of Jesus, at home and at church.
Remember, WE, parents and adult members of the church are the starting point for our children. If you aren’t committed, our children won’t be either. Let us help you lead the way.