Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

An Expansive Vision for Family Worship

The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him.
     All the families of the nations will bow down before him.

Many years ago while on a sabbatical from my pastoral role at Irvine
Presbyterian Church, my family and I visited several prominent
megachurches in Southern California. My children were preschool aged,
but we took them with us to worship. We knew they would have no problem
sitting quietly for an hour if we brought coloring books for them.

At one of the first churches we visited, a friendly usher tried
desperately but in vain to get us to take our children to Sunday School.
On the doors of another church, a sign implored us not to bring our
children into the worship center because they would bother the adults. I
must admit I was rather put off by the fact that children were not
permitted, let alone welcomed, into the main worship service of this
otherwise friendly church. Yet this practice was fairly common among
churches that served my generation, the Baby Boomers.

Today, there seems to be a growing conviction among many, especially
among the next generations, that children need to worship with their
parents. Many newer churches include children in the entire worship
service, while other congregations release children for Sunday School
part way through the service. Though the approaches may differ, churches
today are more committed to family worship.

And so is Psalm 22. Verse 27 reads: “The whole earth will
acknowledge the LORD and return to him. All the families of the nations
will bow down before him.” Notice that it is not just “all nations” that
will worship God, but “all the families of the nations.” The Hebrew
word mishpacha, translated here as “families,” refers not only
to individual households, but also to larger collections of relatives
(clans). The use of this word in Psalm 22 paints a picture of people
from all nations gathering in their families to worship the one true
God.

In a day when so much in our culture threatens to weaken families,
we ought to be encouraged by Psalm 22:27 to find ways to support family
worship. Perhaps nothing will help children to grow in their faith more
than seeing their own parents genuinely worshiping God. Of course this
can happen, not just in church services, but in other settings as well,
including the home. Family worship includes such activities as praying
before meals, serving together on a mission trip, and so much more.
Parents who want their children to know and serve the Lord should strive
to live out their faith each day in every dimension of life.

As the Christian community seeks to support families, we must also
remember that we are the family of God together. Those who do not live
with relatives can find a home among their brothers and sisters in
Christ. In this way all of us can bow before the Lord and offer our
lives in service to him.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What experiences
have you had of family worship? How does your church encourage families
in worship? Or not? How might you implement the vision of Psalm 22 for
family worship?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the
gift of families. Today I thank you for my own family, for my parents
and siblings, for my grandparents, uncles, and aunts, for my wife and
children.

I also thank you for the body of Christ, my extended family of
faith. How grateful I am for the times when I found a home in your
family, especially when I was separated from my natural family. Thank
you, Lord, for my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today I pray for your church, that we will grow in our ministry with
families. Help us to welcome families in our life of worship, to find
ways to support parents and help families be healthy. May our families
become contexts in which we are encouraged in our faith and worship. May
parents learn, not only how to teach their children how to be disciples
of Jesus, but also how to live out their own discipleship before their
children.

Finally, gracious Father, I would ask that your church become more
and more a family of love and grace, a place where all are welcomed, no
matter their station in life. Amen.

_________________________________________________

P.S. from Mark
Recently, Foundations for Laity Renewal, the parent organization of
Laity Lodge and The High Calling, has begun a new ministry for families.
Laity Lodge Family Camp offers top quality retreats for families,
including multigenerational families (grandparents, parents, children,
etc.). If you’re looking for a way to enhance your family life, I’d
encourage you to check out the LLFC website.
This year, by the way, we’ll commence building a whole new facility for
Family Camp. I am pleased to be part of an organization that has valued
families for decades.

_________________________________________________

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This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.

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