Monday, October 25, 2010

Catechetical Bumper Stickers

The new front door arrived and was hung Friday, so I spent Saturday painting it. That meant the kitchen was closed for that evening’s meal. John found that appealing. He enjoys pizza. Picking up pizza would an exercise in receiving daily bread two ways that evening.

The car in the lane in front of me had a very interesting bumper sticker.
“Why should God bless us when we’ve kicked HIM out of our schools?”

What a curious thought. Why indeed? I had to ask myself.

In the classroom every now and again when we’d pray the Fourth Petition, “”God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people,” I’d stop and ask my students, “Who are these evil people?” They’d grin and look around at each other, and then one-by-one raise their hands, knowing I would, too. Definitely! None of us fears, loves, or trusts in God above all things. That means we must confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We, in a word, hate God, since we surely cannot demonstrate that we love Him. Yet, God would have it that we realize that He, as our heavenly Father, overlooks this in us, feeds us graciously, so that we learn to “receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” Yes, even the evil ones such as we.

God’s gifts come in spite of who we are or what we do. That is what the Third Petition teaches: The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer. The kicker is that in praying to the one who gives us all things as a heavenly Father would to His dear children, “we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.”

Prayer has not been denied any child in any school, and God’s graciousness has not been kicked out of anywhere. God has not been hindered in showering His blessings upon his people. God’s people, if anything, squander the precious gifts of the church they ought to be using in their homes as a primary resource.

I tried to teach my students to think catechetically. That is, run all things through the catechism. It wasn’t hard to do. We began the day reciting portions the catechism, the Ten Commandments plus one of the remaining Chief Parts. Whatever book we were reading was filtered through the catechism. They soon learned to do this on their own in their private readings. The catechism isn’t just for picking up one year during adolescence and then shelving away. It’s for reading, learning, and inwardly digesting. That happens by using it in the home and through application beginning when the children are very young.

The primary place of Godly education for any child should be his/her own home, not the school. Let it begin there, as Luther says in the Fourth Commandment, Large Catechism:

If that were done, God would also richly bless us and give us grace to train men by whom land and people might be improved. He would also bless us with well-educated citizens, chaste and domestic wives, who, afterward, would raise godly children and servants. Here consider now what deadly harm you are doing if you are negligent and fail on your part to bring up your children to usefulness and piety. Consider how you bring upon yourself all sin and wrath, earning hell by your own children, even though you are otherwise pious and holy. Because this matter is disregarded, God so fearfully punishes the world that there is no discipline, government, or peace. We all complain about this but do not see that it is our fault. The way we train children and subjects spoils them and makes them disobedient. Let this be enough encouragement. To draw this out further belongs to another time.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

This is a most fitting response to the quote from the Youth Ministry bulletin of a few days ago. If we can teach our children to think catechetically, they will become people who function as GOD's children, not children of the world (well, at least when they aren't giving in to their old Adam!).