Two of the most joyous words in the month of June are “School’s out!” When I was growing up in Lancaster, PA, my brother and I always felt sorry for our cousins who lived in Warwick, NY because they didn’t get out of school until the end of June. We were always done at least 3 weeks earlier. Now that we live in NY, we are experiencing the agony firsthand. It seems like everyone I know, parents and students alike, is ready for a break, to put the classroom and homework assignments behind them for a couple months and enjoy some less structured, more relaxed time.
I once saw a church sign that said: Every home is a school: What are you teaching?
The truth of this statement has stuck with me ever since I saw it. Regardless of whether school is in or out, our children and youth, even us adults, are learning, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And the most influential location of all this learning is our homes.
From the time we are born, our homes are the first and most important place of learning. In addition to basic concepts like shapes and colors, we learn just about everything at home first – how to tie our shoe and ride a bike, how to take care of ourselves (brush teeth, take a bath, get dressed), what foods make up a healthy diet. Maybe even more important, we learn how to be in relationship with other people – how to respect and share with others, solve problems and resolve conflicts, and be a contributing member of a larger family unit. And home is the first place we learn about faith and God.
Our kids spend far more time at home than they do at church, so most of what they know and understand about God and the importance of faith in their lives comes from home. We are teaching them through our daily conversations – Why did God make mosquitos? Why did Grandpa have to die? We teach our children what it means to love God and one another by how we treat other people both at home and in our daily living. We teach our kids that faith is important when we adults make it important, by attending church regularly, reading the Bible at home, praying together, sharing our gifts and resources, helping out with Sunday School and mission projects.
One of the lessons that I hope we will not teach our kids this summer is that summer is a time to take a “vacation” from God and our faith. We would never think of taking a vacation from feeding our bodies because we need to eat to stay alive. So too, our spirits need a steady diet of spiritual food – worship and prayer, nurture and fellowship – to stay healthy and alive. Church is open all summer long and God invites us to join together as a family of faith to worship and serve, to practice our faith every day. Even when you are away on vacation, I would encourage you to keep faith in your life – try a different church, take your Bible out into nature and read it, keep on praying. Who knows? You may spark some interesting conversation with your kids, and you will be teaching them that loving God and following Jesus is something we do 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
See you in church!