By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, August 4, 2016

On Monday, Logan began 4K at a “real school,” as he calls it. It was a parenting milestone filled with the usual mix of joy and tears. Erin walked him into his classroom on the first day and he joyfully entered a new season of education. In that school, he will learn capacities that form a foundation for the rest of his life. It was such a fraught and full parenting moment.

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that we brought our then 18- month-old Logan to Highland Hills. Here in this community of saints and sinners, Logan has already begun to form a faithful imagination about the world. He has already started learning the stories of our faith. “Me-Fib-A-Sheth” remains his favorite biblical name to say. (Thank you, Miss Carol) Like any “real school,” every real church is a teaching church. We shape and form the next generation in more ways than we recognize. Our stories are bound together in a covenant community of grace and love. In that Spirit, I was inspired by a prayer by Sharlande Sledge, and I offer it to you as a blessing this day.

God our Mother, God our Father,
thank you for children,
signs of the kingdom
growing by leaps and bounds among us.

With unconditional love,
may we gather them into our circle.
Let us tell them your story
again and again and again
until they imagine it, paint it, sing it,
act it, dance it, write it—
until it sinks deep into
their bodies and spirits and voices,
until they express their joy and sadness
from head to toe
Remind us that children come
“trailing clouds of glory,”
not so far from the wonder of your face.

Forgive us for watering down the gospel
until you are just another grown-up
who “went about doing good” long before they were born.
Forgive us for telling them to be kind and loving
without offering them the faith and hope they need
to live authentically in the world.

Even as we try to shelter them from storms,
help us model compassion that enters the pain of others.
Let us nurture all that makes them precious gifts,
daughters and sons made in the image of God.
Above all, as we grow alongside our children,
May our dependability and faithfulness
show them they can trust your tender love
now and forever.