The February 7 sermon from Hebrews 11:20-22, Genesis 48:1-22.
So, how are you doing with passing your faith along to future generations?
One of the great joys of having our grandson Noah come to visit is the opportunity we have to pass along God’s blessing to him.
Part of that blessing, one given to Sue and I in our ministry here in Otisville, is being able to play hall ball in the Christian Education hallway. It is truly a blessing to hear him laugh and giggle as he runs up and down the hall trying to get the ball past me.
Part of the blessing is to sled down the hill by the manse.
Part of the blessing is to be able to have Noah in worship, and watch him as he learns the songs and the prayers, and even, because after all his Nana is Sue, which skivvies to wear.
On Sunday, we wear church skivvies, because Sunday, while a wonderful family day, is also a day we worship and we remember our blessings and the blessing!
For Sue and I, there is also the blessing of remembering when it was Brian and Katie in worship, as infants, and toddlers, children and teens.
And part of the blessing is to participate with him in before bedtime prayers, with his mom or dad leading them or perhaps Sue or I when they are not there.
Last time he was here, Sue was leading the prayers and couldn’t remember some of the names that they pray for each night, including Lilianna and Ashlyn, and so she said “and who else do we pray for Noah” and he named friends to pray for and friends in need of special prayers.
And then I think the best part of bedtime prayers is they end after the amen with clapping! Actually, I think that would be a great tradition for all the people of God to start.
When the prayers are said and we say amen, all God’s people clap twice in agreement with the word “amen” which means roughly “so be it”, that is, “I agree”!
Passing along the blessing is amazing! It is wonderful, it is essential too, so that the next generation and the ones that follow understand how much our faith means to us.
Not the place we worship so much. Not the details of the way we worship, or the methods we used.
The fact is I remember only a little of the sermons and the specific lines of worship liturgy or even the words of most hymns I grew up with.
What I remember with clarity is the attitude of my father and mother, and the wonderful people of the faith community. What I remember is the blessing it was to me and for me and for all who will follow me.
Sharing that blessing is essential!
But sharing the blessing requires faith. We have to believe that in fact God has blessed up, that in fact God is working in our lives to bring us to the Promised Land he says will be our eternal home.
We have to believe that no matter what has befallen us, God still intends to get us there, to the joyous finish line, to the place where the new heaven and new earth have accommodations reserved in our name by the Lord of heaven and earth.
And we have to believe that it is up to us to share the blessing!
We have to believe so strongly, that we like Jacob, are willing to reach out and claim our children and grandchildren as our own and God’s, and declare them inheritors of the Kingdom of God just like Jacob did to Ephraim and Manasseh.
Think about that!
There, right in front of Joseph, Jabob’s most beloved son of his beloved wife Rachel; Joseph, the Grand Vizier of Pharaoh, the second most powerful man in all of Egypt; had his father Jacob claim his sons, as his own!
Jacob made clear that they were not sons of Egypt, but rather sons of Israel. It did not matter that they were born in Egypt of Joseph and an Egyptian mother!
What mattered is that they would inherit the Promised Land, that their own children’s children would travel there, and that they would be the progenitors, each of them, of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jacob, on his deathbed, makes sure that Ephraim and Manasseh, and Joseph too, understand who they are, to what nation and tribe and family they belong, and that they belong to God.
Jacob reaches out his right hand and reaches across to Ephraim the younger’s head, and his left hand across to Manasseh the older’ s head, and blesses them with God’s blessing.
And no matter how Joseph and Ephraim and Manasseh and even Jacob felt about it, God exerted his presence and control and blessed whom he would bless.
Our responsibility as parents and grandparents is not to control the blessing, but to be its vessel.
To be God’s hands, resting on the heads of those in our families and reminding them that that while they are ours forever, more importantly, they are the Lord’s.
We are to go and do the same. Amen.