Father’s Day, Recognition Sunday, Youth Sunday

June 15, 2014

 

Last week after our morning service, we honored our confirmands whom we hope will someday assume the mantle of servant-leadership, and this morning we honor two men who long wore that mantle, ministering to Christ through the ministry of his church as servant-leaders, to whom we have awarded the distinction of Emeritus status. This morning we honor our children who possess such energy and curiosity – and fathers who drink a pot of coffee to keep pace and try to field one “why” after another.

As I was thinking about this morning’s service, I realized that we are honoring our young and old. People often talk about the generation gap, they lament this great chasm that divides the greatest generation from the latest generation. One generation actually talked on their phones, while another generation texts and plays games and does math and almost anything but talk on their phone. One generation had three television stations and rabbit ears, another generation has 300television stations and a satellite dish. One generation paid only17 cents for a Big Mac and 80 cents for a gallon of gas and we get stuck with inflation! We’ve heard it before: the young complain about the old being without-a-clue, behind-the-times fogeys and the old complain about the young being disrespectful yahoos. But our service this morning can serve as a reminder that while some of us think 39 is old, and some of us are proud imitators of Jack Benny and will be turning 39 again for the 40th time – we are all brothers and sisters in the same, one family of God. And thinking about that, in this season of Pentecost, I remembered what the apostle Peter preached 2,000 years ago when God poured out his Holy Spirit: “In those last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18) Your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Whether a believer for 80 years or a believer for 80 seconds, we all have received the same Holy Spirit who is with us and in us forever: take that generation gap.

One important facet in the relationship between generations is that of teacher and learner. It's true that sometimes younger people teach older people things like how to DVR their favorite shows and read text messages; but in Psalm 78 we're looking at older people teaching younger people some important things. So, teach and learn. Let’s start with…

A. Teach. The Psalmist writes in verses 2-4: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old – what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children.” To paraphrase he says, “My generation is going to talk about the things we learned from previous generations.” What things?

 

  1. God’s Deeds – and notice how they are described: praiseworthy (they should elicit our praise to God), power (they manifest God’s omnipotence), and wonders (they make us awe-struck and slack-jawed in God’s presence).

I’ve told you this before, but both my parents were very involved in my spiritual formation; and one thing I remember my dad doing was illustrating Bible stories…with stick figures. Just picture a stick figure Daniel in the Lions’ den. That’s one way of telling a younger generation about what God has done.

We read, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.” In other words, we’re going to tell them about how God is the Almighty maker of heaven and earth, how he redeemed his covenant people Israel and wrought signs and wonders through his servant Moses – the ten terrible plagues that demonstrated his awesome power that neither Pharaoh nor any impotent idol he served could rival; how he sent fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s soaked sacrifice, how he shut the mouths of the lions preserving Daniel alive in their den, how in the person of his eternal and only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he walked on water and multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed multitudes, and raised the dead at the command of his mouth, and on and on and on. Those of us who are older ought to tell those who are younger about God’s deeds so that they will be filled with awe and the praises of God.

 

  1. < >< >. Once we were on family vacation to Gettysburg; and the first night there, there was a terrible thunderstorm; so rather than staying in our little campground cabin, we drove into town and went into Perkins; and for anyone interested in trivia about your pastor, I had a slice of my second-favorite pie: pecan. I don’t remember what precipitated my father’s next comment, but it is the stuff of family legend and oft repeated wisdom. We got him a little flustered, so he said to me, “You, it gets to here (ear), but it gets to here (mouth) too fast,” and then to my brother, “You…it gets to here (point to ear) but it doesn’t get to here (point to brain) so you say “Huh?” For anyone in an older generation, do you ever feel like that when trying to teach an important lesson to a younger person: you feel like it gets to here, but it doesn’t get to here, so they say “huh?” It’s like Bill Cosby’s bit where he tells his son not to drink his soda, and two seconds later his son is drinking his soda. Still, we need to persevere in teaching, because even if we give up, the world won’t; and us young people – may I suggest we need to get a little better at listening and learning? So Younger People Will Trust God - “Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds...”
  2. So Younger People Will Obey God - “...and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”
  3. And if we put reasons 1 & 2 together, So Younger People will not repeat the past - “They would not be like their forefathers – a rebellious and stubborn generation whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.” And the rest of the Psalm unpacks that if you want to read it when you have time.

 

Psalm 78

 

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