If you heard yesterday’s Divine Service, you may have noticed that, right before the dismissal, I shared a quick thought on our last hymn, Go, My Children, With My Blessing (WOV 721.) I shared that this hymn is a fantastic choice to sing to your children (or grandchildren, or nieces/nephews, etc…) every day. See, the hymns of Holy Church are not intended only to be sung in the four walls of our worship spaces, anymore than Holy Scripture is intended to be read only in worship. The hymnal has a place at home, as well. Indeed, worship itself has a place at home, whether you have children or not. Even those who live alone will find great blessing in at-home worship.
Worship: A Parent’s Duty.
“Train up a child…” says Proverbs 22:6. It is the vocation of Christian parents to raise Christian children, and a major part of that vocation is teaching our children the importance of worship. We do that by bringing them to church each and every Sunday, but also by worshiping at home as a family. This worship can be very simple; gathering around the dinner table each evening, reading a Psalm and a Scripture verse, talking about what we’ve read, and praying together, interceding for the needs of others and ourselves, and thanking God for His goodness toward us. Some families have made a family altar or a prayer corner where they gather each morning for prayers before leaving for work and school. Still others simply pray together at bedtime. There is no magical formula for at-home worship, but whatever it looks like in your home, I encourage you to continue or to begin this practice.
But Vicar… How do I do this?
If at-home worship is a new concept to you (or if you would like to expand your current practices,) one excellent resource is our hymnal, the Lutheran Book of Worship. If you’ve spent a good amount of time in Lutheran circles, you likely already have a copy. If not, reach out and we can make arrangements to get one for you. The hymnal contains orders for daily morning, evening, and nighttime prayer, with some notes on how to adapt these rites for at-home worship. And, of course, it contains the hymns of the church, with which we worship God and hear of His goodness in song. There are sections for morning and evening hymns, and one of my personal favorites (and the one I will sing to my children every night) is Now, Rest Beneath Night’s Shadow. I invite you to consider this verse:
“My loved ones rest securely, for God this night will surely
From peril guard your heads.
Sweet slumbers may He send you, and bid His hosts attend you
And through the night watch o’er your beds.”
This and other such wonderful hymns are available at your fingertips. If you don’t know the tunes, they can often be found on YouTube. Even simply to read the hymns aloud is a good practice. They communicate much of what we believe about God, and are themselves a response to what God has done for us.
Another great resource is our own website, underneath the “Daily Readings” tab. Here you will find orders for morning and evening prayer, Psalms, and readings for each day from the NALC. This is the devotional resource I use, and these prayer rites have been used by Holy Church for the better part of 1,900 years.
Okay, you have my attention! But I still don’t know where to start.
Fear not! I will post a few “How to” videos this week. These will give a few examples of daily worship at home, and I will talk through some other resources for prayer and teaching your children about God. In the meantime, let me encourage you with a word from Ephesians 6:4: “And, fathers (this includes all parents/parent figures,) do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” It is the solemn duty of Christians to raise their children well, teaching them about God and leading them in worshiping Him. But it is a joyful duty indeed! Children are a wonderful gift from God, and it is a privilege to raise them in the faith. Thanks be to God for His gifts to us!