None of us like hearing difficult and confronting news and all of us have a skewed understanding of who we are. This reality reminded me of a great line in a song written in 1993 by the Australian Band Things of Stone and Wood, who sang: “I have self-deception tattooed like a flag across my back.”
For me this self-deception was challenged this week in many ways but particularly in an article on the internet by Rev. Tony Sundermeier: "We must be intentional with the kind of Christianity we are practicing and passing down to the next generation."
This week I struggled with the question what am I passing down to my own children as the heart of life, is it the good news of Jesus, as the centre and meaning of all things, or is it simply a set of nice middle class 'good citizenly' attitudes? Of course this is not simply a question for me it is a question all Christians must ask themselves for each one of us has made promises before God and each other about nurturing the children in our midst, and each other with the Christian faith. It is a mission we all share in - handing on the tradition.
What disturbs me is looking back over the last generation and looking ahead. Looking back the children of my parent’s generation, my contemporaries, for the large part have rejected the church. And the majority who have not, for the large part, are engaged in churches which affirm wealth as a sign of their goodness. This is prosperity theology and as you will hear today it is a theology that I believe distorts the gospel. Looking ahead my expereince of teaching Religious Education in schools is that even fewer of the next generation will be followers of Jesus.
I wonder if part of the problem is that the kind of Christianity we are practicing and passing down has somehow lost a solid connection with the passion and hope of the message of Jesus. How can we once again set our mind on things above and be trasnformed as God's people?