June 22, 2023
Anyone involved in ministry, either as clergy or as a dedicated lay volunteer, knows that work in the church can inexplicably be joy-filled and spiritual yet exhausting and overwhelming - all in the same breath. We often experience work like Jesus’s parable of the Sower (Luke 8, Matthew 13). Some of our work is fruitful right away but dies quickly. Other work gets trampled on or eaten by birds…proverbially. Other work still falls on deaf ears or dies in committee. But, real growth happens in the darkness and stillness of night, when the good seed, planted in ripe soil, has a chance to take root and grow, to absorb water and nutrients and, when the time is right, break out into the sunlight.
Parenting a child of any age is very much like this style of ministry. I would argue that parenting, done well and with specific intention and a heart and mind towards God, is a vocation as essential as any other in this world. My wife and I have 5 children, ranging in age from 2 to 18. (Only those who have already been legally adopted can appear in the photo.) We often laugh about this parable of the Sower, joking that several single seeds on a given day must have been trampled on. Clearly that isn’t the case, but the vocation of parenting is not for the faint of heart.
It is essential to remember that, in the same way that we trust in God and have faith in His word, we trust in God’s goodness inside every child. Our Baptismal Covenant tells us that we are to repent and return to God WHEN (not if) we fall into sin. I tell my parish often that this means that God already knows that we are imperfect, and we should seek to learn from our mistakes and love one another more deeply in those moments. I feel that it is the same for loving children - expect them to make mistakes or poor choices along the way and be prepared to love them and uplift them no matter what. We, as Christians, are required to show our faith through love.
Love deeply, my friends. Love early, often, and last.