Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
At all of my congregations, both large and small, we had the custom of having families approach the Communion rail together.
Although it is not the custom in all Lutheran churches, in most, parents who are receiving the forgiveness of sins which is offered in the Sacrament are encouraged to bring their unconfirmed children with them to the altar for a blessing.
In my mind's eye, I can still see that procession of parents with their little ones in tow.
Those moms and dads knew that their children would, during the coming week, encounter all kinds of dangers, would hear all kinds of harsh words, be witnesses and recipients of cruelty and unkindness.
So their children might know the Lord was with them, these parents brought their children to the Savior for His blessing.
Having the pastor place his hands on their child's head and speak a few words of encouragement and blessing from the Savior carried a weight beyond words.
In bringing their children to the Lord, these parents were asking the loving Redeemer to let His favor rest upon their little ones. They were asking God to protect their children and allow them to live in His peace.
That's why those parents were more than glad to bring their children forward.
They might not have thought about it, but they were continuing a tradition that is 2,000 years old. They were standing by the side of those mothers who brought their children to Jesus for a blessing. And the children ... ah, the children, well, that's a different story.
I remember as I tried to place my hands on the heads, or shoulders, of these little ones, there were different reactions to getting a blessing from Jesus.
• Some were almost a picture postcard of perfection as they shut their eyes and patiently received God's good Word.
• The more mischievous ones, the ones with a smile on their faces and a twinkle in their eyes, made it a game where they squiggled and squirmed to get away from my hand. I got about 97 percent of them blessed.
• There were those who took one look at this big, bearded bear of a guy and let out a scream.
• And, of course, there was one boy who bit me. I showed him. (I gave him a really good blessing: "May the Lord allow you always to sink your teeth so readily into the cause of Christ.")
That's what I said. I'm sure Jesus would have said something far better, which would have meant a lot more.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in a world which does its best to mess up our families and tear them apart, may Your blessing rest upon parents and children. Keep them safe so they may sing Your praises in this world and the next. In the Savior's Name I pray. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
Today's Bible Readings: Genesis 31-32 Matthew 20:1-16
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