Becky and I are enjoying the life of long-distant grandparents this month. Last week we were with the Massachusetts three – five and two years old, and one month old. At the end of the month we will be in Michigan for the baptism of the youngest of those two (one and three years old).
I like being a grandfather. Papa in Massachusetts and Grandpa in Michigan.
After a few days in Massachusetts, we brought our five-year old Caleb home with us for three days before returning him to his parents. Yes, we were the typical grandparents, soaking in every wonderful moment of the visit, exhausted at the end of the day, and sad to have the experience over (the Lego creations are still on the coffee table in the living room), but not altogether unhappy to have our house and our days back.
Grandparenting is one of God’s best inventions.
As much fun as it is, grandparenting is also serious business. On August 23 Becky and I will join with the congregation at Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Sturgis, Michigan, in prayer and liturgy as we celebrate God’s grace and love when Ada Clare receives the waters of baptism. Baptism binds us to our grandchildren in ways that Legos and ice cream do not. It commits us to being grandparents who model, teach, and share Christian faith as well as parks and bedtime stories. In fact, in both Michigan and Massachusetts, parks and bedtime stories are sometimes just the right way to model, teach, and share Christian faith.
The psalmist knows about the importance of grandparents in God’s scheme of things. He writes,
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments. (Psalm 78:5-7)
Teaching the faith, sharing the love of God, modeling amazing grace is intergenerational work. In involves parents and children and even the unborn. Faithful grandparenting is the work and the witness of hope and remembrance.
Massachusetts and Michigan are too far away. We don’t see those little ones nearly often enough. Our hearts ache for them. But God in his good purposes has given Caleb, Esther and Gideon Christopher and Katie to be their parents. He has given Ryan and Katharine as daddy and mommy for Lena and Ada. And he has given Becky and me to be among their grandparents, even at a long distance. We have a job to do.
Christopher and Katie, Ryan and Katharine, do the daily work of bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are doing well. The people of First Presbyterian Church and Saint John’s Episcopal are part of the weekly rhythm of teaching and sharing, and God is using them as he will use whatever other congregations may be stopping places along their journeys through life.
Becky and I are called to pray for our children and their children every day. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide Ryan and Katharine, Christopher and Katie, as they seek to be the godly parents their children need. We pray that he will, in his time, quicken faith in the hearts of these precious grandchildren of ours and make gospel real in their lives.
And when we make it to Massachusetts and Michigan, we go to the park and read stories and play with Legos and have lots of fun, all to the glory of God. We follow their parents as they point them to the Savior who, like a shepherd leads them – much they need his tender care.
See you Sunday