by Rev. Monique McBride, FUMC Ft. Lauderdale, FL
First, read Deuteronomy 6:4-9
As a child, Christmas Eve was always such a magical and special night. But, it wasn’t for the reason you might be thinking.
After the Christmas Eve candlelight service, my grandmother and I drove together to her house. On the way, we’d listen to Christmas carols on the radio and take the long way through a few neighborhoods with the most beautiful displays of lights and outdoor decorations. When we got to her house, it was my job to turn on the light on her stained glass nativity and switch on the lights on the Christmas tree. Together, we’d assemble the layers of her traditional Christmas morning sausage and egg casserole and stick in the fridge. Then, we’d get ready for bed and say our prayers together. I have such vivid memories of saying The Lord’s Prayer with her and finishing by saying “God bless” to which I’d add the names of all my friends and family.
More than any other memories of childhood Christmases, these are the most special ones to me. Of course there was milk and cookies, peeking out in the morning to see if Santa came and waiting for my parents to arrive so that we could eat breakfast and open presents. But, nothing really beats those special times I spent with my grandmother and the wonderful things she and I did together. These childhood memories formed so much of my identity and the bedtime and Christmas traditions I continue with my own boys. In my book, Christmas would just not be Christmas without sausage and egg casserole and the light up nativity which is now in my own living room.
Today’s verse is called The Shema. Shema means “to hear” and it is one of the most sacred and special verses of the Hebrew Bible. Our Jewish brothers and sisters memorize this special prayer and recite it three times a day. If you’ve ever been to a Jewish home, you might have seen a little box right on the doorpost. This little box is called a mezuzah and inside is a copy of this verse. The Shema and its little “to do list” of traditions is to be as present in their lives as passing in and out of doorways -- a constant reminder to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and strength. The seventh verse of The Shema is a reminder to teach these words to the children and pass on faith and the traditions of faith to the next generation.
The traditions of my childhood and the things I did with my grandmother formed me in endless ways. Our little Christmas Eve traditions were just a few of the things she taught me about living a faithful life and trusting in Jesus as Lord. Much of my faith I owe to her and the formation that took place while spending weekends at my grandparents’ home. My grandparents brought me to church, taught me to serve those in need and shared with me the stories of scripture. Like the words of The Shema, the things we did together were as much our weekend to do list as a formation of faith. And in doing these special things together, my little self was formed and I learned what it meant to follow Jesus through the things we did together. It is now my honor to pass on the lessons, traditions and examples of faith to my own children through the things we do together and hope they will also be formed in the faith as I was.
Is there someone in your past like my grandmother who taught you about faith in Jesus Christ? What things did you do together which formed you into the person and disciple you are today? How might you be called to teach these traditions of faith to the next generation? May we all “hear” the call to teach the lessons and traditions of the Christian faith to the next generation with our words, thoughts and actions.
Loving God, thank you for those who have gone before us to teach us about faith in You. Help us to love you with all our heart, soul and strength and in doing so teach the next generation. Amen.
Today’s scripture is one of the most important scriptures in the whole bible. It is called “The Shema,” which stands for the first Hebrew word in the prayer meaning, “to hear.” Our Jewish brothers and sisters place this verse on a small scroll and hang it on their front door post in a small container called a “mezuzah.” Every time they come in and out of their homes, they can see this reminder to teach their faith to their children.
How do you teach faith to your children? What traditions, prayers or practices are central to your relationship with God and your family story? Use today as a special time to teach these things to your kids. Maybe it is a mealtime blessing your grandparents taught you. Perhaps your mother had a favorite bible verse. You might even have your Dad’s bible tucked up on a shelf somewhere. In the busyness of day-to-day, we often forget to share these special parts of ourselves with our kids.
Take the opportunity today to teach your kids about a special part of your faith and your story. What part of your faith story do you want your children to know?