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      This sermon was preached by Pastor Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Family and Faith: Children, Youth
      3 John 1:4
      Aug. 21, 2016

       T ODAY’S SERMON IS FOR THE CHILDREN and youth. The adults can listen in but this is our time. I’ve already talked with the older folks, the middle-age folks, the young adults about family and faith. Today is your day.

      We celebrated a baptism a little bit ago. Baby Ethan. His mom and dad brought him to the front of the church because they wanted their son be baptized. They wanted him to have water poured on his head to show that he belongs to Christ. Baptizing people goes all the way back to Jesus.

      Many of you have been baptized. Some of you might remember it. Some of you don’t. It doesn’t matter if you do or not. The importance is that water poured on your head in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit celebrates that you belong to God, who loves you. That’s a good thing — a great thing.

       † † † 

      IF YOU WERE LISTENING, YOU HEARD Jimbo and Cassie answer some questions. You also heard everybody answer a question. Maybe you answered it also. It was something like this: “Do you promise to guide and nurture Ethan in the Christian faith? Do you promise to encourage Ethan to know and follow Christ? Will you help Ethan be faithful to Christ’s church?”

      Those are important questions. And everybody promised, “We do.”

      The church — the church is the people, not the building — makes those promises to you as well. We are reminded of that whenever we baptize someone. We remember; oh, yes, I made that promise for other children. I need to show by the way I live and what I say what it means to be a Christian. I need to pray for the church’s children — each one. I promised to encourage all these kids and youth. I made a promise to God that I would make sure they know and follow Jesus as Savior. I’ve got to get to doing that.

       † † † 

      OUR BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY is this: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.” John is writing to an old friend.

      John taught that friend about Jesus. That friend is a leader in the church because he heard John talk about Jesus and watched John live Jesus. John prayed for him. John encouraged him. John promised God that he would tell his friend about Jesus and how to follow Jesus. John is happy because his friend is a child of God.

      When this letter is written, John’s friend is a grown-up, faithful Christian. That’s why we adults find joy when you — each of you, all of you — grow up living the truth of Jesus Christ.

       † † † 

      HERE ARE SOME THINGS we want for you:

       ►We want you to be part of community.  Community is a feeling of fellowship with others, being connected with others of all ages. Refuel and GΦG help build community. Between the youth, but also with youth and the adult leaders. So does Kid’s Club. Kids/kids and kids/adults. Relationships. Tone chimes is a wonderful example of community building. Also worship. Sitting in this big room with little babies and strangers and older people and teachers you see at school and people you run into at Walmart. Singing together. Praying together. Saying “peace of Christ be with you” to each other. That is being part of community.

       ►We want you to know that faith is more than a feeling.  Feelings come and go. You really, really, really like a movie and you watch it over and over. Then you don’t watch it anymore. You play soccer, and then one day you don’t want to anymore. We want you to know the basics of faith, the historic faith of the Christian church. We want Christian faith to be part of who you are, not how you feel.

       ►We want you to know Christian is more than being moral.  Church is more than a place to learn how to behave. More than what it means to be a good girl or boy — you don’t need a crucified Jesus for that. It’s easy for us to trade a faithful gospel based on God’s graciousness toward us for a gospel based upon how we act.

       ►We want you to be smart.  We want to treat you as intelligent children and young people. If we dumb down the message of Jesus, let us know. If you have deep thoughts and questions and doubts, call us on it when we tell you not to think such things. Challenge us to respect your searching for truth. You are smart, often much smarter than we give you credit for.

       ►We want you to know Jesus Christ.  Without that, none of the other matters. We want you to know “that you belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for your sake, so that nothing will ever separate you from God’s love.” (Belonging to God: A First Catechism, q 36) When we focus too much on pizza and not Christ crucified; when we focus on entertainment and not on being a disciple, we need you to yell, “Stop!”

       † † † 

      THOSE ARE OUR PROMISES TO YOU, children and youth.

      Here’s what I want from you: I want you to hold us to those promises.

      Me, as pastor. Your parents, your Sunday school teacher, your GΦG leaders, your Kids’ Club adults. Pastor Jody Beth. The adults who sit on your row on Sunday mornings. Every one of us.

      Remind us that long ago we promised to love you and care for you and give you opportunities to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ and you want us to keep those promises.

       Keith Cardwell  

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      23208 Swift Church Road
      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367


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