Bless the Children
1. SITUATION OF WORLD, FAMILY & SOCIETY
· World situation is scary
· uncertain future for our children
· World is betting on science to solve all problems
· World's concept of Faith: "build on yourself"
· you have to rely on yourself
· Church experiences the same kind of despair
· Not only at NKMC
· churches around the world have this desert experience
· People loose hope in the organized church
· There is a sense of finality: "last one to leave please turn off the lights"
· Hopelessness about the future of the church.
· Personal Faith: for many a wasteland experience.
· Confusion about what to believe and why.
· pain of departure of many friends.
· We feel the temptation of the world.
· We feel the confusion of trying to find a way out of the desert.
· Lack of a sense of direction.
· Lack of spiritual convictions:
· about the assurance of salvation
· there is a lack of certainty about where our faith is taking us.
· Lack of hope in a prosperous future for our spiritual family.
· When we rely on ourselves for salvation and spiritual renewal we will fail.
· We forget what God has done in the past.
· We forget that God is faithful
2. But, we have a rich Spiritual Heritage to build on:
· We remember the story of Samuel:
· Hanna: a mother who is unable to conceive - laughing-stock of the women in the village.
· In her despair she cried to God for help.
· God gave her a son who was then dedicated to His service in the temple.
· Samuel became one of the most remarkable priests of Old Testament.
· We remember a long-haired teenager named Samson who had nothing better to do then to set foxes on fire and let them loose in the fields of the Philistines.
· His parents dedicated him to the service of the Lord.
· And he saved his people from their enemies with the strength and power of God.
· We have a locust-eating prophet crying the wilderness: "Prepare the way... something great is about to happen."
· We remember an old man's blessing on the baby Jesus in the Temple: (Luke 2)
29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
· JESUS himself blessing the little children:
· Matthew 18:15-18 recounts the story:
13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.
· I wonder about the parents who brought their little ones to Jesus...
· I wonder what motivated them...
· The parents were bringing their babies so that Jesus would put his hands on them and bless them.
· Their good intentions met with opposition from the disciples.
· "Can't you see the man is busy?! Leave him alone. Don't bother him with your kids."
· And, Did you see what Jesus did?
· He said: "Let them come! And don't stand in their way."
· He took the children in his arms and blessed them.
· Jesus gives us a model to follow:
· He teaches us that:
· We must find creative ways of blessing our children.
· We must encourage the children to come, and be part of the church community.
· We must encourage them and lift them up.
· Express appreciation for who they are and not only what they can do.
· Jesus teaches us to take the children in our arms and to bless them.
· Jesus teaches us also that we must take the children under our wings when they go through difficult times.
· Jesus teaches us to pray for the children.
· And he tells us in no uncertain terms that we must learn from the children.
"What is there to learn from a child", you say?
· I think everyone could guess "patience"
· But there's more:
· Jesus says that the future belongs to them.
· The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
· The children have got what it takes to get to the Kingdom of God:
· total dependence, full trust, frank openness, complete sincerity.
· Those are the qualities that God desires from us
· We have a rich spiritual heritage.
· Countless faith models teach us that God has been faithful throughout history.
· They teach us that there is hope beyond ourselves.
· They teach us that as long as we have faith there is hope.
· They teach us that God is Faithful!
· And so, we build on God's Faithfulness as we bring our children to Christ that he may lay his hands on them.
· The ritual of bringing our children to Christ is a symbol of our hope.
· It is a statement that we make against all hopelessness, that God is with us.
· When we bring our children for dedication, we are in fact saying that we believe in the future that God has in store for us.
· We believe that God will lead us out of the desert.
· And it's no surprise that children are a big factor in our own sense of hope for the future:
· A song from Rankin Family Album "North Country" expresses this hope:
When the waves roll over the waters
And the ocean cries
(Expression of turbulent times)
We look to our sons and daughters
To explain our lives
As if a child could tell us why
That as sure as the sunrise
As sure as the sea
As sure as the wind in the trees
We rise again in the faces of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again
· We hold on to the promise that our own shattered hopes and dreams will be realized in the lives of our children.
· When we bless our children we picture a special future for them.
· We think of the great expectations and hopes that we have of our children.
· Garry Smalley & John Trent, The Blessing:
· A hopeful attitude about the future of the child greatly affects the child's attitude in life.
· When we as parents express our hopes for our children we provide them with a clear path in life.
· Testify: My parents' hope: service, good deeds for God and society.
· Our hopes and expectations for our children are similar
· In the Old Testament we have Isaac's blessing to his son Jacob (Gen. 27:28-29)
28 May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness -- an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed."
· The tradition of passing on a family blessing to the children is still practiced in Jewish synagogues around the world:
· "May this little child grow to manhood/womanhood. Even as he/she has entered into the Covenant (with God), so may he/she enter into the study of Torah, into the wedding canopy and into a life of good deed."
· Our calling is to be a people of blessing!
· We are called to give our acceptance, our love and our care to others - beginning with our own families.
· The church needs to be a place where the Word of God is preached and where Christ is honored and glorified.
· And, God also designed the church to be a loving, caring and forgiving fellowship of brothers and sisters.
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
That is how we express our blessing to one another.
· Today we bless these four little ones
· We bring them to Jesus and ask for his divine blessing upon them.
· At the same time we also express our hopes and blessing to these families.
· As we bring these children before God, each one of us may have a personal blessing for these children.
· With faith in God, who is faithful, we want to express our hopes for these four little ones:
· Madison, may the God of your ancestors lead you in an exciting walk of faith. May your gifts grow and develop in such a way that everyone would recognize the love and grace of God in you.
· Adrian, may God give health and strength, and may your life be dedicated to the service of Christ and the church. As generations of family before you, may your life be a blessing to others.
· Ryan, may your life be a pleasant aroma to God. May you walk in the ways of our Lord and may you help others to know Christ and grow in their faith.
· Tyler, may your life be filled with pleasant surprises. May you grow in the knowledge of God. May your heart overflow with the desire of walking in God's grace and sharing your love for the God of generations of family before you.
· My prayer is that hope in the unfailing love of God would springs to new life in our families and in our church community.
· May the blessing of this day go with you every day of your life.