Covenant Children, What a Blessing They Are!
April 26, 2007 § Leave a comment
I want to post last weeks Pastoral Letter, written to the congregation of Covenant Church. Rev. Gentry decided on the subject of the letter after being inspired by one of our little covenant children at Covenant Church. Her name is Brenda Noami West. Yes, she is my precious little daughter, who is seven years old. Brenda and her little sister, Trinity Grace (3yrs), will be receiving their covenant baptism this coming Sunday, as our family is received as members of Covenant Church. So, if you will indulge me, I, a very blessed and proud father, want to show my thankfulness to my Gracious Triune God, by posting the letter here on this blog. I hope you are blessed by this letter.
“Shall We Dance?”
Pastoral Letter By Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Gentry II
Grace to you and peace. beloved. May the Lord be with you in all His fullness.
Little Miss Brenda West is a blessing to me. I appreciate her honesty. Spend any time around her and you’ll know what I mean. She doesn’t hesitate to ask a question if she doesn’t know the why or what of something. She isn’t to proud to admit she doesn’t know, and she isn’t to proud to ask others for help. In martial arts class two weeks ago I directed the students to sit on the ground, jokingly telling them to sit on their “bombossity.” True to form, Brenda raised her hand to ask a question. When I called on her, she said, “Soke, what’s a bombossity?” I smiled and told her it was her bottom. I explained that I was asking her and the others to sit on their bottoms. She understood that. They all understood that, and down they went. In that instance and others, Brenda reminded me that the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are trusting and simple. I didn’t say gullible and simplistic, but trusting and simple. As a child of the covenant, Brenda trusts and believes. Is her faith nuanced? No. Is her faith particularly articulate? No. It’s not supposed to be at that stage of her spiritual growth. Never doubt, however, she is growing spiritually. Brenda and all of our covenant children are growing and maturing and moving from glory to glory as their faith goes from paedofaith to adolescent faith to adult faith. The stages and expressions may be differant, but the common denominator is faith. As David said of God in Psalm 22:9-10, “You are he who took me out of the womb; You made me trust while on my mother’s breasts. I cast upon You from birth. From my mother’s womb You have been my God..” To be sure, this is a Messianic Psalm (i.e. a prayer of the Messiah) but it is also a prayer of David. He really did pray these things, describing his faith as an infant. What David describes here is normative of covenant children. They belong to God from the womb. In that sense, when we baptize them we are baptizing believers with a baby faith. The faith, however, is real and effectual. Brenda’s faith is real and effectual. The faith of all covenant children is real and effectual. Our commitment as parents is to see that such faith is nurtured in the cradle of the home and the Church as we raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. The command to train up a child in the way that they should go is tied to a promise. What is that promise? Is it that when they are old they will finally be converted and come to Christ? Is it that after years of evangelistic work among our “covenant” children we will finally see the fruit of our labors and they will become Christians? No. The promise is that they will not depart from the ways of God when they are old. The assumption is that they are in the ways of God when they are young. This is a great blessing to us as heirs of the Covenant of Grace. The promise is to us and our children. This is the hope of the covenantal gospel. Brenda demonstrates that. All our covenant children demonstrate that. They don’t have problems with God being their God. They understand that when we tell them Jesus loves them and died to save them from their own wicked hearts that it is true. They should and do believe us when we tell them that their baptism is the sign of the promise from Jesus that they belong to Him. They are formed by the very faith we live. We don’t give them the faith, however. God gives them the faith, just as He gave us faith. We are used by God to nurture their faith, but the promise that salvation is by grace through faith alone is true for all those in covenant with God, literally from womb to tomb. That’s the blessed hope we know in Christ. That’s the blessing Brenda shares with all born into Christian homes. Brenda isn’t just invited, she has arrived by the grace of God. In just a few weeks we will see her baptized. We will see her receive the sign and seal of the covenant that she enjoys along with the rest of her family. As it were, Brenda will visibly and officially take her place in the life of the Church where she will grow to maturity as a child of God. You may have noticed that she was play dancing with the Pastor; smiling and trusting all the while. She belongs on the dance floor, and the music is hers and ours together. Welcome to the dance.
Wow! I was brushing away tears, as I was retyping this letter here on the blog, thinking of the awesome grace of God to give us such precious gifts. May I, the father of Brenda, Zach and Trinity, along with my beautiful wife Esther, be faithful to nurture my children’s faith, believing to promises of God in Christ, our covenant Lord.
Blessings in Christ,
Terry W. West