“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord…. “
- Psalm 102.18
Dear Blacknall family,
These things seem to come in waves. In the course of these past two months we have had several deaths, deaths of three in particular who have been long-standing participants in our life together as a congregation. Newland Oldham, Ruth Buchanan, and Susan Gillette were each responsive to the grace of Jesus Christ, and each lived with a particular focus and gratitude that was instructive to all of us who knew them.
Oddly enough, I have these three saints in mind as we recently marked the maturing of a number of our children in the congregation, some of whom are now at an age to join in the first part of our worship each Sunday, and others who are joining the rest of us for sermon, and Table, and our life together. I doubt I am the only one who prayed for them, asking the Lord to lead them through this transition to a deeper understanding of, and love for, and even joy in following Christ. The point, of course, is for children in the Faith to grow up in the Faith to be adults in the Faith. One generation to the next. Susan, Ruth, and Newland didn’t magically wake up one morning to find themselves deeply formed in their Christian identities and imaginations!
The imagination. It is the bedrock of meaning, laying the foundation for reason to then lead us into the Truth of things. It is the formation of the imagination, especially in the young, that provides a deep well from which living water might be drawn throughout one’s life. In a conversation two weeks ago with a friend I asked something like, “What was formative in your own coming to faith in Christ?” Answer: “We had a story Bible in our house when I was young, and we read it so much that those stories shaped the way I felt the world.” (My paraphrase, but I like it.)
Every parent of young children that I know is so happy when the children at last lay down their heads in sleep that he or she cannot imagine doing anything else but doing the same! But even in the press of life, is there room for yet one more detail before those children sleep? What is the last image our children have in their minds as they drift off to sleep? What story is working, even in their dreams, to establish the way they feel the world? (We have a good story Bible to recommend if you need one!)
And of course, as you might suspect, here is the pitch. Is there room for you to join a team to be the agents of faithful imagination for our children on Sunday mornings? I am proud of what we offer our children, and we take the imagination seriously in our approach to the formation of our kids. You are the ones our children look to as their own hearts and minds are being formed in ways too deep to know. But the Scripture is right: One generation to the next.
Psalm 102 concludes “The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.” What a gift Blacknall has been given in our children! The surprise is that in our leading of our children into the presence of Jesus, we find ourselves being led there as well.
Together in Christ,