Sunday Catechism: Great and Small


Q: What does the third commandment require?

A: The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God’s names, titles, qualities, regulations, word, and works.

Let me begin by saying that I’m incredibly excited by the new Sunday School classes; we have wonderful volunteers, and I plan to make myself available as a resource to them. These smaller, age-leveled classes will give our church an opportunity to delve deeper into the Word and doctrine with our young parishioners and allow discussions and relationships previously not possible with the Children’s Church. The Children’s Church will continue to serve as a scaffolded experience of regular Sabbath worship, allowing children to get a more accessible worship service, and possibly giving parents some respite and rest in the regular service.

Having said all that, I’d like to point out that surveys and research have long indicated that the church has faced very poor retention of churched-youth as they enter adulthood, and this may very well be because we have allowed or even encouraged parents to abdicate their responsibility as the primary spiritual educators for their children. We must be careful not to “professionalize” youth ministry — youth ministry is the purview of families, and having kids in a separate service or classes should not excuse us from teaching them in the ways of the Lord. In fact, if you feel your child is mature enough to respectfully sit through the main worship service on a regular basis, I’d encourage you to keep them there.

At times it seemed unfair that I should be paid for my work; for driving out in the early morning with the fields glittering under the first pale sunshine and the wisps of mist still hanging on the high tops.
—James Herriott, All Creatures Great and Small

Okay, now on to this week’s question. We talked in Children’s Church about how one can give someone else a “bad name.” Our Jesus Storybook story this week was on Zacchaeus, and we talked about how he besmirched his reputation by cheating his community. He was “The Man with No Friends.”

One thing that came up was how you can sully someone’s reputation indirectly, by disrespecting something associated with them. This is clear in this week’s catechism question. Our reverence for God must extend not only to Him and His Name but to his “…titles, qualities, regulations, word, and works.”

Certain Eastern religions and philosophies talk about the holiness of the universe, that every star, tree, and cockroach has a divinity that must be honored. The Christian perspective is distinct from this; there is only one God and none is to rob him of his glory — and yet, He is God of all. So when we do injustice to our neighbor or do irreparable damage to our environment or squander our own lives, we commit an act of desecration. As Zacchaeus learns, when you commit a self-centered act, you get disowned. You break from the bonds of harmony, beauty, order, love, and fellowship — you not only lose the friendship of your fellow man, but you reject the name of God.

Is it no wonder we are lost in so many ways? We need to be sought and saved. When the I AM becomes Jesus of Nazareth seeing us stuck in a tree, we regain the awe we have of life, the world, our children.

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