“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
On August 20th, I was standing in front of a class of new missionary teachers in Bratislava, Slovakia when I received the news. It came as a two part text message on my cell phone. I looked down for a second and saw on the screen that my wife Janna was writing to me in the dark hours of the night in Minnesota. As the class turned briefly to their other instructor, I opened the first message. In short it announced: “Your grandson was just born and is being transferred to St. Paul Children’s Hospital. His vital signs are good.” I knew that my son and daughter-in-law were expecting, I also understood that their new born son was now three months premature. I didn’t make it to the second text message before I was asked by an anxious missionary another question about living in Central Europe.
Life changes in a heartbeat. Certainly there are pleasant, serendipitous moments that surprise and delight us. But it seems that life can also offer its fair share of unexpected, troubling moments. Of course, we learn to accept and address them, but in that moment it seems as if they take our breath away. The earth itself has shaken, and we wonder how it would have affected us if we only could have only been a bit more prepared.
The author of the book of Deuteronomy understood the reality of life’s unexpected joys and sorrows. In the words to the ancient Jewish people, he encouraged them to teach the values of the faith to their children where ever there was a possibility- “talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” For the ancient writer, every setting was the right place and time for discussing the faith.
3,000 years later, however, that is not the case. Today, we discover parents who are afraid to discuss their faith with their children. They forget that life can change in a heartbeat and that their children can’t wait for an answer during the next Sunday School class.
Rally Sunday is a wonderful way of reminding people that the programs and activities of the congregation are organized to help them through the week to find a way to discuss their faith when life changes. Congregational celebrations, Bible studies, choir rehearsals and service activities, all have a way of bringing people together to share their thoughts and experiences. Joining is important, not simply for you, but for what you can offer to others on their spiritual journey.
So join us on Rally Sunday, September 7th as we begin our renewed journey at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church. Come and celebrate Dixieland music with the Madson Family. Enjoy fresh pie, ice cream and cake. Register for Sunday School. Join the choir or prayer group. There are many ways to explore your faith and to experience the excitement of lives together in faith. And in all these ways, you will prepare yourself to for the times when life changes.
When I arrived home from Europe the first stop was at the St. Paul Children’s Hospital to see the 5-day old Ivan Robert Haug. He is small, but his vital signs are still positive. And, yes, he is growing. Standing over his lightened incubator, Janna, his mother and I prayed for little Ivan’s safe delivery, his continued growth, and the daily care he was receiving from the hospital staff. It was a poignant reminder of the importance of the preparation and encouragement that the church provides. “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Peace, Pastor and Grandpa Arden Haug