Acts 21:5 But when our time was up, we left and continued on our way. All the disciples and their wives and children accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.
One of the most beautiful and sacred parts of our Sunday worship at Erin takes place at the end of the Family sermon. That’s when our young children sit at the front steps of the sanctuary with their parents, or grandparents, or aunts and uncles, all bowing their heads, closing their eyes, and saying a simple prayer. The prayer is led by whoever presented the Family Sermon and everyone repeats the words, phrase by phrase. It’s a wonderful blessing to see each of the families do this; listening to the voices of the youngest children pray out loud, often brings happy tears to my eyes. This is Family ministry at its simplest and best; this is how the Gospel is shared by one generation to another.
In today’s short passage from Acts 21vv1-9, we read about Paul and his companions leaving the city of Tyre. The whole church has gathered at the beach to say farewell – all of the disciples, their wives, and their children. It must have looked like a Sunday School seashore picnic, but it is also a wonderful description about how the Early Church operated. Families worshiped and prayed together; they served the Lord and witnessed as one. It must have been a beautiful scene, even though it was a sad farewell. The church at Tyre was intergenerational, showing to Paul that Christ’s message would endure across the generations represented on the shoreline.
Churches are meant to be intergenerational – they don’t function well when they just cater to one age range or one eclectic group. The vitality of Christ’s mission depends upon each generation passing on the faith to the next generation. It never stays still and never looks the same, but it always truly connects with Christ across the centuries, throughout the nations, and among our precious families.
Questions for personal reflection
What opportunities for intergenerational sharing takes place at my church? How do these events strengthen the faith of the people?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You speak to people of all ages throughout the entire world. Your Spirit seeks to bless our families with services and events, as well as missions and programs that can be supported and fulfilled by believers of any age. Thank You for the Family ministries among our churches and for their vitality in our congregations. In Your Holy Name, we cheerfully pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask a question about today’s message, please send John an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. John reads every email and learns much from your comments.
Today’s image is one of my latest Mackintosh rose drawings. It’s called “Celtic Roses.” If you would like to view a larger version, the please click on the following link: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7348/9002967262_20aa571af4_b.jpg