REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn - Rest on the Flight into Egypt - 1647 - Oil on panel, 34 x 48 cm - National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin
January 5, 2020
The Nativity of Our Lord
Second Sunday of Christmas
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We give Thee but Thine own, Whate'er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone, A trust, O Lord, from Thee.
—Christian Worship, No. 485--
When you hear that hymn verse, what pops into your head? For me it is offering plates. Growing up this was sung every Sunday as the offering was brought to the altar, and instead of making it less special, it made a deep impression. Everything we have isn’t ours; it is a gift from the Lord.
My only problem was my scope or vision for what everything is. Money, yes. The sturdy slogan, “time, talents, treasures,” yes. But sing that song, and wouldn’t it be interesting to have your children and grandchildren flash before your mind’s eye?
When you see children, what do you see?
Children can be viewed in a couple of basic ways.
Some see children as an investment in the future. They are future consumers and producers of goods and services. So they need to know how to build microwaves and medicines and bigger screens or smaller ones to make people in the future happy.
Others see children as autonomous agents. Basically they are pre-adults. You are supposed to feed them and house them, but they should mostly make their own decisions.
These visions of children certainly swerve together and overlap. But they are both wrong. First of all, both views mean that our children and our families are way overbooked. But worst of all, both views ignore what Jesus has to say about our children.
To begin with, they aren’t “our” children. They belong to Jesus. He made them, so they are all His. But they are gifts that He joyfully gives to us. And we are to do things for them. Protect them, feed them, clothe them, even dote on them. You know, dote, just looking at them and talking to them and listening to them.
But most of all, bringing Jesus to them. Next week I’ll distribute weekly devotional ideas for your homes. Use them in homes with littles ones, use them in homes where you are the only child of God there. These formal times with Jesus will lead to the rest of your day. Hearing Jesus talk to you in the morning and the evening will lead to pondering what He says in your hearts.
This is what Joseph did. He protected Jesus and taught Him the Bible. If there ever was a dad who could have thought, “Well, pretty sure He knows this Bible stuff already,” it would have been Joseph!
But Joseph was faithful. He protected the gift of this holy Son and His blessed mother Mary by listening to the Words of God delivered by His angel and fled to Egypt. He continued to protect them his whole life long. During that fatherhood, that patriarchy, he also taught his family the Scriptures, as a faithful son of Abraham. He sang the psalms with Mary and Jesus, reading the Scriptures, as wise men do.
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is one! Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words that I am commanding you today are to be on your heart. Teach them diligently to your children, and speak about them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as a sign on your wrists, and they will serve as symbols on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.
—Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Evangelical Heritage Version --
May we treat our children as Joseph did, as precious souls entrusted to us from God, as souls made righteous in the blood of Jesus.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.