As I mentioned last week in Part 1 of my two part series… I am taking an 8-week online class about the writings which provide the scriptural and theological foundations for Lutheran faith and practice. As this posts, I have two weeks to go – a bittersweet thought. How can you be eager for the homework to be done for a class you intentionally chose to take because you like doing the homework??
Anyway – last week I “cheated” and posted a Lenten Meditation which had been assigned as part of this class. For this week, I’ll go back to my very first week of the class. We were tasked to write a children’s sermon about one of the Ten Commandments following our reading of Luther’s Large Catechism, with the threat that we would be required to re-write the paper if we focused on legalism or moralizing. (As in, no stating that following the rules makes God love you more.)
I wrote the post, submitted it for grading, and then decided to actually sit down with my kids and go through the questions, see how they respond. (These are the kinds of things we do for fun around our house…) So here it is. The sections from my original writing are in black, and interactions with my kids’ are blue.
God gave us Commandments; ten guidelines which help us go through life. In the First Commandment, God tells us “You are to have no other gods.”
*I had to stop here to make sure my daughter knew what “Commandment” meant. She did not… There were a few words I ended up changing on the fly when face to face with a 6-year-old!
A god is whatever we choose to place our trust in. A god is what we believe with our whole heart. A god is where we look for all things good, and where we seek help when we are in trouble. Our God, the God who created us and loves us, promises to provide what we need and help us in any danger.
But sometimes the world can be scary. What are things that make us afraid?
A: My 10-year-old said death, losing someone or losing a pet, or fear that we won’t go to heaven. The 6-year-old said lightening and thunder, divorce and sharks. (What a change four years brings…)
Sometimes in life there are things which happen that make us forget that God is our one true god. Sometimes we think too hard about these things which scare us. Then fear steps in, and it will try to take control. Fear becomes our god – the thing which we believe in with our whole heart.
A: The 10-year-old – sad, hopeless, horrible. My daughter, the 6-year-old – sad, afraid, like I want to hide away in my room.
Do you like to feel this way?
A: The expected easy response – “No”
Let’s remember what we talked about earlier. What did God tell us in the First Commandment?
A: Both respond, somewhat mechanically at this point – “We should not have any other God.”
God said he is our one true god and we are to have no other gods. We know we are to love and trust God, and we have faith that God will help us just as God has promised. But fear is a very real feeling! Both kids and grown-ups will experience fear in life – when we go to school and work, when we live this life with our families, when we make big decisions. Unfortunately, fear is not something that will go away when get older! But – if we focus on our fear, it might try to take us over. Fear and faith fight each other for space in our heart!
*I began to ramble through this last paragraph – definitely too long-winded to keep their attention at this stage! At one point I just stopped and summarized: People have different feelings when they are scared. God tries to push the fear away! I concluded…
Remember God’s promises to us, and God’s great gift of love for you and for me. Through the Bible, God tells us over and over again – do not be afraid! Yes, fear will come. But in faith, trust that God is god, and God will walk beside you no matter what!
I did okay on the assignment – passing marks. My professor’s one negative comment was that I focused too much on fear and worry, and too little on faith and trust. He wrote “Perhaps in a sermon like this, less time could be spent on the problem and more on the good news solution.” I wasn’t sure I agreed – until I actually read through this with my kids. I really did focus too much on fear! Maybe we should have read it together before I submitted it for the class!
I asked my kids what grade they would have given me for this assignment. My son said an A but was careful to clarify that it did not warrant an A+! When her brother failed to give me that A+ my daughter decided it was deserved. So, an A+ from my daughter! I’ll accept their grading curve!
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13