“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. “ (Reference: Colossians 3:20-21 )
It is the last day of the year, beloved. And the last post on Reading the Anabaptist Bible. This collection of scripture has taken us from “Fear of God” through activities of church life such as “Discipleship”, “Baptism”, “Prayer”, “Communion” to pitfalls of life such as “Sin”, “Greed, “Wrath”, “Useless Chatter” to the events of human life such as “Brotherly Rebuke”, “Marriage”, “Human Law”, “Food” and to punishment of not living as God would have us live. Three hundred and sixty-five days of considering how the historic Anabaptists lived and believed. And we end at “Child Rearing”, which is passing on what we have learned in this life to the next generation. This comes as we see the old year passing away and the new year coming. A poetic ending to be sure.
And what of this last verse? Is there some final message we can glean? The writer of Colossians says it is pleasing to the Lord to have children listen and obey their parents. This rests on the premise however that one’s parents have wisdom and experience following and living for God. I hope and pray, beloved, that your parents were/are like this. And if not, that you have found mentors and spiritual parents who have taught you of God and an authentic Christian faith.
This verse also gives a warning to parents (this is advice not only for fathers but mothers too) not to “embitter” their children. In other words, to be the parents that are models for following God and leading an authentic Christian life. Hendrick Alewijns wrote to his children, saying, “Behold, my children, in these holy instructions in correction I acquit myself of my duty towards you; and in all this I admonish you not only in your youth, but also in your riper years, to give ear to the advice of the wise and pious, and always to love the Christians, God’s dear children, the holy church . . . “
It was intention at the beginning of the year to present to you, beloved, as clear picture of what they historic Anabaptists believed, and where that believe may have sprung from. I hope I have done that. But as spring turned into summer and then summer into fall, I found that the historic Anabaptists, while at times squarely addressed some issues relevant to our modern times, were also badly out of step with our modern times. And as the themes grew more grim and stern, I found it harder and harder to support their perspective. Our times differ so radically from theirs, that I think we must look on them as history as opposed to signposts for Christian living. There are good lessons contained in their writings, but in this new century that is almost 15 years old we must forge new ways and understandings.
Five years ago when I finished writing on Reading the Anabaptist Bible, I was anticipating another year of writing posts based on the scripture passages from “Third Way Cafe.” But as you have been aware since soon after Thanksgiving, in 2015 I will be continuing down a different path. It is my hope for the coming year that we can look together at scripture passages and find within them the signposts for a new year, drawing on wisdom from all ages of humanity.
This signals the end of my interlinked relationship with “Third Way Cafe.” It is just you and I now beloved. May God be with us in the new year. Selah!