This is the first of a three-parter.
Today, 16th April, marks a very special 100th anniversary. Not a sinking ship, but the birth of a ship-builder’s son. Les Newman, the oldest boy in our church still makes us all smile and laugh. He is a retired organ tuner and repairer, and when working in unheated churches he and his assistant would sometimes play football in the aisles to warm up. Little Les, with white hair and smiling unjudging eyes, has time for everyone. And if you ask him what the most important thing is his life is, he will light up about his faith and that God has been there for him through good times and bad. Les is a hero, and well-loved by all of us ‘young’uns’. When our current minister first arrived in his post 12 years ago, Les made an appointment to speak to him about the youth services. Apprehensive about what the old boy would say and well-prepared to defend the youth, Neal was taken aback when Les asked his permission to continue attending them, as he had really enjoyed them.
One generation shall praise Your works.
Today, 16 April, also marks a very special 2nd anniversary. Our son Joseph Micah came into our lives 2 years ago. He may have 98 years to go to catch up with Les, but he is equally smiley and fun to be around. He thinks it is great fun to stand against a wall and pretend to be a clock donging. He loves bashing toy cars together. He can count in twos. Not properly, you understand. He grabs your hand, holds your fingers and points thoughtfully to each digit: ‘two, two, two, two, two!’ (Not unlike his sister). Then, if he is satisfied, gives himself a little clap. He loves food. He thinks steam engines are the best invention ever and would probably quite like to be one. He has learnt to cuddle Lily – but not for long. Joseph is a massive blessing in our life, and a huge responsibility to parent well. We are learning, through good and bad, to celebrate and how to declare God’s mighty acts to him. The ladybird that needs his full attention. The song of birds. The way the water pours from one bottle to another, and how to squirt it in the bath. The joys of climbing and the pain of falling. The seasons and the creative minds of God’s creation.
Our sermon on Sunday was about Psalm 145. Generations praising God’s works, passing on the message through word and deed. And that’s the thing: our words mean nothing if they are not matched with our life. Does the idea of your children turning out like you frighten you? I hope not. None of us are perfect. We teach our children best when we all work together in community. Schools, communities, churches.
What do we pass on?
The next generation needs to learn Wisdom, as well as Knowledge. That is why it is good to practice hitting toy cars together before someone allows you the keys to their car. Or why God made enough ladybirds to allow a bit of collateral damage when learning ecology before fine motor skills. And why sometimes it is a good idea to have a football on you to help you do your job properly.