Category: parenting

Walk on…..

Walk on….

Primary School End of Year Address, 2010

1 John 4:18

Friends, I guess it is no secret that we at Ocean Forest highly value the primary community in which all of us enter the world, grow up in the world, and find our vocation and purpose for life – our family. We highly value family.

The English novelist and author Jane Howard says, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, and call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one”. (Jane Howard)

“To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time”. Clara Ortega

Of course, families are made up of different people and parents are central to how families live and what the next generation becomes.

Parents teach without trying. They shape character without holding a class. They influence in helpful and maybe not so helpful ways whether they want to or not. We pass on wonderful characteristics of love, kindness, compassion, ambition, resourcefulness at the same time as we pass on all our foibles – and that is just the way it is.

In the end we are a product of our family and our parents for better or worse. As Jimmy Buffet once said, …

“We are the people our parents warned us about.” Jimmy Buffett

We as educators, carers, some of us parents ourselves, and all of us children of parents, would like to affirm you as families tonight.

We would like to affirm in the strongest possible terms those of you here who are walking the long road of parenting children, whatever stage of the journey you are on; whether you are doing it solo or in partnership – what you do to care for and shape your children with virtue, character and vision for their future is absolutely critical in your children’s life and for our community and indeed, our country.

As Pope John Paul said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live” Pope John Paul II

We take our hat off to you for continuing to walk the journey of family and parenting and including our college in your family journey.

Parenting is a struggle. I think what the American journalist; Ellen Goodman said is true…

“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears”. Ellen Goodman

We see our role as educators, carers and administrators as one of partnering with you in your foundational place in your children’s lives. We want to let our hopes for our students and for you as parents far outweigh any fears we may have. In everything that happens at Ocean Forest, we want to help children, young people and parents and grandparents find hope that drives out fear, because fear makes a lesser people, and hope gives us a future.

Jesus Christ pointed to a new hope and a new future. He showed a love beyond us and yet for us in his life and death and living now. He inspired a renewed man named Paul to proclaim that there is something we human beings can experience that helps us rise above fear and live with real hope for our and our children’s future. He said “perfect love casts out fear”

That love has been poured out into millions of hearts for two millennia and that love of God exists in this college community. We pray that at this Christmas time you might ponder the deep and overflowing love of God for people and parents just like you and me as that little Christ-child lays in the arms of his mother tended by his father in that cow shed.

As U2 sung, “Walk on”. Walk on as you travel the long road of parenting. Walk on into next year children and young people, as you are supported and cared for by parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, brothers, sisters. We walk together letting the perfect love that casts out all fear bring a hope to our journey ahead

A day for families to remember

We had an extraordinary day at our place this Sunday. We gathered families from our church and school communities to give thanks to God for his gift of our families.

Here’s what was said…

Family Foundations

Matthew 7: 24-28 The Wise and Foolish Builders

24″Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching….

Friends, we are encouraging everyone to give thanks to God for all families today because family is a foundation for our life – a foundation given by God.

God is into family. All human beings are in families – these days, all kinds of families – blended, single parent and everything in between: but nevertheless, family!

Now of course, family is not always easy. George Burns, the American comedian once said, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city”. We might say from time-to-time, “Family: can’t live with them, can’t live without them”!

But our very life is family. From our parents, grand-parents, relatives, husband, wife, partner, comes part of our identity, our sense of well-being, our role as God’s givers of life to children. And that is how God always intended us to be – in families.

Our family shows us who we are. Without them we feel cut loose, alone, unsure. Gail Lumet Buckley, the Black American journalist and author said, “Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future. We make discoveries about ourselves”.

Families are under pressure though. For some strange reason, we know our family is our very life, and yet we are capable of making all kinds of decisions to damage or diminish our families. Chasing the almighty dollar seems to be a big one these days. Accumulating more then we need at the cost of time together, at the cost of our relationship with our partner and the kids happens a bit.

Funny how we can spend so much time and energy storing things up (and telling ourselves – “It’s for the kids”) and miss relating to, teaching our kids, and just being with each other now.

But Jesus speaks into our families today and says that there is a wise way to be the best parents and kids – and family we can be.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his family on the rock. (Matthew 7:24)

So, building our marriages, kids and wider family is best done with the words of Jesus ringing in our hearts everyday:
words about God being a Father to us and we being his children in his human family.

Words about baptism being the great gift of being adopted by God as his very own dearly loved child and the moment when we are given a seat at his family table to share his victory over all that destroys and diminishes our family and ourselves.

Words like,
“Come to me, busy Mum and Dad, and I will give you rest”.

Words like,
“I have come to serve you as you constantly serve your partner and your kids –
I have come not to put you down, or judge you harshly, but give you life and power and faith to build your life and your family on my wisdom and strength”.

Friends, let the words of Jesus be your rock so that you can be a rock for you r partner and your kids.

If faith is difficult for you – no need to worry, faith as big as a tiny little speck of a mustard seed is enough and faith comes from simply hearing this word of Jesus and taking it into your heart. He will do the rest.

Let’s build our families strong, resilient, free from fear, wisely.

Let’s live for now, and let the future worry about itself. God knows our names. He knows our issues.

He knows our present and our dreams and promises that as we do all we can to live at peace as parents and children, he will give long and prosperous life for now and the future.

A Sabbath Rest?

Pentecost 13C
Sunday August 22, 2010.
Ocean Forest

Luke 13: 10-17/ Isaiah 58:9b-14
A Sabbath Rest?

I wrote a short comment for the school newsletter this week on this whole thing of rest with family, self and God. I had an interesting conversation with a mum of two teens as a result of that. I wrote…

“I see lots of people giving up rest in pursuit of endless work for endless gain for some driven goal to get some place “better”. I see parents really missing their kid’s life as they leave home before dark, get home after dark, and then do a million things on the weekend, and hardly ever take a holiday during the year – “because we can’t get away from work”.
I see children becoming young men and women with minimal reference to their parents and nearly all reference to the media and their peers – almost living parallel lives to their folks because their folks have given up on resting with the, just hanging out with them and having a conversation with their kids for the sake of having a conversation with their kids!
Come on, people. Is life lived ignoring regular down time – both in families but also for your own inner spiritual life really that needed or necessary?”

This mum said her and her husband had been thinking about this for the last couple of days. She said that where she works she is under constant pressure to work more hours – and work on the weekend. She is trying to protect her weekends to be with her family. She said she knows of other mums at her work who start at 6.00am who then get the school to which their child goes to call at 9.00am to confirm the child is at school. Mum and Dad are not there for breakfast lunch or after school. She hears stories of kids of the people she work with leaving school at 3.30 and seeing no need to go home, because the house is empty and no one will be home until 5.30-6.00pm anyway, So one kid she knows just rides his bike around and gets into building sites wherever he can for something to do….

We have some very lonely children in our community who have indeed been cut loose far too early. When grade four comes around, children seem to be entrusted with their own upbringing – which will come from their peers and the TV. We wonder why we have issues with families and parenting and marriage and family?!

It was quite amazing to spend some time in the Middle East some years ago and see a culture totally devoted to planned rest – with family, including God. The Sabbath day runs the week and the family rhythm. There are things everyone does on the Sabbath and things you don’t do on the Sabbath. Why is it that the Jewish culture is so resilient an instantly recognizable?

I don’t know if anyone around our community has much sense of planned rest – observance of a regular rest where nothing gets in the way of that rest. Maybe our annual holidays are about that. Maybe trying not to work too much is the best we do.

I see even less people who have much regard for religious observance of a Sabbath day. We play sport, shop, fix things, plan for the working week, just keep working and just about anything else on the weekend – but do we really rest?

We might see a great ally for our busyness in Jesus as Christians. There is no doubt Jesus sets the welfare of individuals above religious observances such as the Sabbath. He says, “the Sabbath was created for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath”. “People come first, not religious observance”, we say. “So, do what you need to do when you need to do it and don’t worry too much about observance of any religious rite or practice”.

For us who are not much into religious observance like Jewish people or Muslim communities etc…, this particular gospel word may not be so confronting to us who keep religious observances to a bare minimum and value a much more relaxed, personally orientated religion and hate using the word, “religion” anyway!

But, there is more to this than we might think. If we listen to both the word from God in Isaiah and the gospel word, we might get confused…

See, the first word from Isaiah urges that God’s people not “trample the Sabbath,” that is, ignore religious observances to pursue their own interests (business, shopping, recreation). God is calling his people to be quite “religious” in terms of observing his call to rest with family, self and Him. Worship, conversation, the rites of the church like absolution, holy communion, baptism, funerals….. These are religious observances that really count when they are needed.

And yet Jesus is also saying that the planned rest and time with God was created for the benefit of human beings, it was not created as a legalistic thing to turn them into robotic slaves of God.

So, to observe or not to observe, that is the question!

What I hear the Spirit saying to us is that what we are free to dispense with down time with God and each other for the sake of others, but we it is not good to dispense with time with God and others in rest for the sake of ourselves and our own well-being.

Yes, we would easily give up the observance of a special day dedicated to God to take a family member to hospital or help someone in need and know that this is what God would have us do, because that is the kind of God he is – a God who sends his Son to directly challenge the warped view that religious observance is to be done at all costs – even at the cost of heart, life and mercy.

But would we see the value of observing a day a week with the Lord in front of our heads and hearts as being very much over and above the income for the mortgage, the house look, sport, shopping and everything else we fill that day with at the drop of a hat?

I am hearing Jesus affirm us for our willingness to be flexible and other-orientated when it comes to trusting that this whole one Sabbath day rest or time with him in the week is to be given up at times for the sake of other people in whatever need. That is Jesus, the Good Samaritan style, living. That is what God is always on about throughout the Bible. Human beings were not created to religiously observe the Sabbath day.

But what I am also being challenged with is the other side of this. That special day of rest in the Lord was created by God for human beings!

Friends, are we throwing out too much planned, even ‘religious’ down time with the Lord alone, with our family and with his people these days?

Why did God rest on the “7th Day” and tell us all about it? Why did God consistently call people back to that special resting with God and family? Why does Jesus both challenge what the leaders of Israel had made it (a huge burden around people’s necks that kept them from knowing God as a kind and loving heavenly Father) and yet say “the Sabbath day was created for God’s creatures”?

Religiously protected and planned rest has to be good for us. God created us and it. He has created a rhythm of faith and life for us with him. Work and Rest. Doing and praying. Receiving and giving. Dying and rising.

I hear the Lord calling us to take responsibility for not “trampling the Sabbath”. We need to make some decisions about our week, our income, our direction and our time in our week – now, not later. God wants to spend some quality time with us alone and in our close circle. We need to spend some quality time with him – even a whole day per week.

And here’s the payoff for committing to God our time and rest within that time.

“If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath, from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; {14} then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth…” Isaiah 58:13-14

Rest in God brings delight, a new joy to the relationships – just like rest with the kids or your partner or friends regularly. Rest makes for delight and the ability to enjoy life and do well in our relationships and work.

So, what will it be for us – will we be a family and a people in this community who clear space, even religiously, for rest with each other and more importantly, with the Lord in his Word and in his world – for more than an hour or two in a week – but 12 hours per week?
Hear God’s promise if we get quite “religious” or protective about this rest with him….
Isaiah 58:9b-14

The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. {12} Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. Isaiah 58:11-12

And how these streets need to be repaired by joy-filled, life-giving, restful people of God!