12.10 “Godly Care for Children” October 2008
Our Faith and Practice calls churches to a regular practice of reading prayerfully, and pondering thoughtfully, the Queries. As adopted in 1987 there are twenty of them, grouped under the headings, “Personal Faith”, “The Individual and the Church”, “Marriage, Children, Home”, “Manner of Living”, and “Concerns for Society.” (They are to be featured in Connection over the next several months). What a great heritage is this covenanted practice of queries and advices! Are you being faithful to it? Three hundred years ago, 1708, the following advices were sent by London YM to Quakers world-wide.
We desire the godly care for the due education and safety of your children within the bounds and limits of truth in all respects, may be continued and increased among you; and that parents be exemplary to their children in keeping out of the vain fashions, customs, and pride of the world, by adorning themselves modestly and in plainness. (London Epistles, 1821, p. 97)
It’s still timely, isn’t it? Our Query 11 asks searchingly, “Are you teaching your children the ways of Friends? Do you encourage them to attend Friends schools?”
The world will crush our children into its mold unless we are careful, thoughtful, and prayerful! I’m thankful for NWYM programs, camps and schools that help parents guide their children “within the bounds and limits of truth,” It might be good for elders to guide us about what plainness and modesty mean in contemporary culture, and what constitutes worldly pride. Perhaps the blue jeans revolution in clothing is a good thing (unless exploited by grunge or glitz marketing). Perhaps simpler, less expensive, weddings would comport with that three hundred year old concern. How about resisting seductive pressures for conspicuous consumption and huge credit card debt?
In-group loyalty to our covenant community is a good way to answer that advice. We praise God that George Fox University remains true to its Christ centered mission! Helping our children, grandchildren, and others within local churches to attend our Friends schools, including George Fox University, is a faithful response to this ancient/contemporary concern.
P.S. Our nation needs much prayer now. Pray that humility and civility will replace arrogance and rudeness, that peaceful cooperation will supplant imperialistic posturing internationally, that in our culture substance will prevail over image, that governance and economic structures will more fully be leavened by Kingdom ethics, and that in their thoughts and actions Americans increasingly will be illumined by Christ’s light.
Peace and joy!
Arthur O. Roberts