By Pastor Wes Poole
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. – NRSV
Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. – NRSV
Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t. – Folk singer Pete Seeger
Martin Luther, on Bible study: I study my Bible like I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest may fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I search the Bible as a whole like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb–study book after book. Then I shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences and words and their meanings.
Teach your children! It was one of God’s commandments to the ancient Hebrew peoples and it is still just as relevant and powerful a commandment all these millennia later. The continual nurturing of faith that we provide our children and ourselves throughout our lives is one of the most important responsibilities we have as God’s people and as a congregation. It’s also imperative to remember that when we commit to the discipline of studying scripture and growing in the understanding of our faith, we aren’t just cramming for some sort of “Divine Exam”. Our relationship with God in Jesus Christ is established through grace. As a result, “Christian Education”, as we often call it, is a matter of personal enrichment; empowering us to be better disciples and more effective agents of that grace in the world. As we continue to transition to a post-COVID world, your Faith Formation Team is in the process of visioning for the future of our educational ministries at Good Shepherd. There are any number of ideas being discussed, but one thing remains central, helping our people grow in understanding of our faith and devotion to God and neighbor. “Faith Formation” is not just something we do to help teach Bible stories to children. That’s immensely important, but only the beginning. Our faith, both individually and as a community, is constantly in formation; growing, changing, and hopefully deepening. Let us all, as a family of faith, commit to “shaking the apple tree” that is Holy Scripture, and to the life in service to God and neighbor that Jesus modeled for us.
Let us pray…
Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word. As we strive to teach our children “in the right way” and to keep your words in our hearts and souls, inspire us to take what we learn and put it to work in your Kingdom for the benefit of all people. Make us creative and engaged students and teachers; that your Word be made known to the world and transform the lives of those who experience it. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Be well, be kind, be safe, and pick up that Bible! You never know what might happen!
Pastor Wes Poole †