Faithlife Sermons

Passing on the Stories of Family Faith

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Deut.6: 4-7; 20-25.

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; 22 and the LORD showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. 23 Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. 24 And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 25 Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.’

How many of you here today or watching live remember the movie “Madea’s Family Reunion”? Basically the story revolves around a pistol-packing grandma (Madea) who while planning the annual family reunion, must contend with the other dramas on her plate, including the runaway who has been placed under her care, and her love-troubled nieces.
The movie features two giants in the acting and literary fields, Maya Angelou, and Cecily Tyson who play the matriarchs of the clan. Dr. Angelou recites a poem that she wrote called “In and Out of Time”. Ms Cecily Tyson has a monologue that moved me then and moves me today. Here is a portion of it:
Family reunions are about uniting the family, bringing together the young and old. Singing and dancing and thanking God, giving him the glory. Thanking him for getting us over. As we marched up the road this afternoon, what we saw were young men gambling, fighting, cussing. Women with no clothes on gyrating all over on this land. Do you see this shack. The man and woman we were born here gave birth to this generation. They were slaves. They worked this ground, but they bought it from the widow of the slave owner and that's the kind of blood we have running though our veins. That's the stock we are made of. What happened to us. What happened to us. Who are you. Do you know who you are. What happened to the pride and the dignity and the love and respect that we had for one another. Where did it go. And how, How do we get it back. I'ma tell you. Young Black men, take your place. We need you. Your sons and daughters need you. Did you understand what I just said. You were sold off and had no choice, yes but now it's time to stay. Take your place. Now. Starting now. Starting now. Young black women, you are more than your thighs and your hips. You are beautiful, strong, powerful. I want more from you. Take your place.
Cecily told a story about the family that many may have heard before but had forgotten. Many of the stories of our families may have been forgotten because they may not have seemed relevant at the time. Oh, how I wish now that I had listened a little more closely to the stories of my family. It may have prevented much heartache and many mistakes.
Our stories are important. They are the present’s connection with the past, and the launching pad for the future. They are the glue that holds families and communities together. The telling, hearing and passing on of these anchors us in a sense of belonging. This is beautifully illustrated in the Biblical passage before us this morning.
The passage starts with what has come to be called the Shema (pronounced Sha MAH), “Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (or FIRST) God is to be first in our lives and in our families. Does the Lord occupy first place in your life?
Next the passage declares that The God who is first is to be loved with all our being. This is first priority for us, because God loved us so much.
Verse 6 says that we are to keep God’s words in our hearts We need the attitude of Peter who told Jesus, You have the words of eternal life (John 6: 68). 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Only when you have the Word in your heart can you teach them to your children. God tells us of of the four times that you should teach them: When you’re sitting, walking, laying down and when you get back up. God’s word needs to be an important part of the family. This includes public worship also.
Now let’s skip to verse 20. The reason for this is that many times our Bible reading and church service and prayers and other “religious” things that we do, we do without connection. We are concerned that our families do the “what” the praying, the going to church, the tithing, and giving, and all that, but we don’t tell the “why”. This is where we have the opportunity to connect our children and families to the God that can. The scripture says that that we need to be ready to answer when the children ask “why”. Your why is different from my why. What God brought you through is not quite the same as what God brought me through. That is why we need to tell them the stories of our faith, including the times that we really messed up or were messed up. I think this is what Miss Tyson meant, I think this is what God intends. How else will the next generation see the mighty hand of God working if you don’t share what God has done for you? And let them know that God is the same God now as God was then! I am a living witness that God will put food on your table, gas in your car, make ways out of no ways.
There is a song that exemplifies what i am trying to say:
1 I love to tell the story Of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and His love; I love to tell the story Because I know 'tis true, It satisfied my longings As nothing else can do. Refrain: I love to tell the story! 'Twill be my theme in glory - To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love. 2 I love to tell the story - More wonderful it seems Than all the golden fancies Of all our golden dreams; I love to tell the story– It did so much for me, And that is just the reason I tell it now to Thee. [Refrain]
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