“Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand.” “Those children old enough to understand.” Let those words sink in: “those children old enough to understand.”
This Sunday, we read from the book of Nehemiah, who sacrificed to rebuild Jerusalem and to restore the faith of the Jewish community. The Jewish people, exiled in Babylonia, had returned to a city in ruin and a people ignorant of the faith. Ezra interpreted the law from “from daybreak till midday” ... “so that all could understand what was read.”
In our increasingly secular society, when fewer and fewer men, women, and children know and embrace the faith, these words strike the hearts of all faith-filled parents/grandparents. How will our children have faith when so much seems to be lost? We. Start. Now. With “those children old enough to understand.”
The way out of despair and destruction is through God’s words of “Spirit and life.” The Gospel-writer Luke was determined to record the events “so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.” The certainty is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the scriptures. These are the beautiful teachings we pass onto “those children old enough to understand.”
We initiate faith by soothing our crying infant. We implant God’s words into our child’s tender heart by speaking of the love of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. We deepen God’s words by reading the Scripture each day, a few lines at a time, to more and more as our child grows in body and mind. We interpret God’s words—God’s law—according to our child’s age and understanding. And as first preachers to our children and grandchildren, we preach by naming grace—God’s truthful presence—to “those children old enough to understand.”
To give our children the words of everlasting life, we unroll Scripture, day in and day out in our homes, with the eyes of our children upon us. We live our faith through Christ’s love—our works of mercy and justice. We speak of Jesus, who unrolled the scroll and announced: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
Our culture declines, often far from the heart of God’s law of love. There is a way forward, and it starts with us—parents and grandparents, who pass on the faith through God’s words of Spirit and life, to “those children old enough to understand.” Now, that’s good news!
Photo by David Beale on Unsplash
How will you pass on the words of Spirit and life to your children?
Thank you for taking the time to read this reflection. To read more about God's grace in everyday life or to connect with me about speaking at your conference, please contact me: www.marypedersen.com.
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.