Our youngest son LOVES to go to his preschool program. He talks constantly now about playing with Bobby and basketball. Every time he sees a basketball hoop in someone’s driveway, he’s got to tell us about it. LOVES. IT. Apparently, he and his little friends play with soccer balls and basketballs on the playground. After the day is done, and we go pick him up - usually - I am in a rush from one thing to another so I whisk in and swoosh him out to the car and we’re off. But recently I’ve started to STOP and just give him a few more minutes on the playground. He’ll run and jump and climb on things and just SMILES the whole time. It’s really the cutest thing. So, we get a little sun together, and he gets to spend a little time on the playground.
Also, I guess I was late to the party, because all the cool parents have been doing this for quite some time. True to form, I figured it out way late - even though my son kept saying over and over “PwayGrind, Daddy pease”. It’s so much fun to see the kids running wild and free!
Having kids throughout the years as a pastor, I’ve been asked a bunch for advice on how to raise healthy kids. I’m certainly no expert, but the one thing that’s worked well for us are boundaries. Kids like to know where the boundaries are, and that’s why it feels like they test them a lot. They want to know where the playground ends and begins. Once they know, then they can have lots of fun running wild and free. The boundaries are set up to keep kids safe and let them have plenty of room for fun.
I’ve told my kids - almost word for word - you can play in this playground, but if you step out of the playground, you’re going to lose privileges. I’ll always love you, and I’ll always forgive you, but stay inside the playground please.
1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.
God builds for us a shelter in God’s mighty arms.
God calls us to live in the boundaries of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.
God calls us to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our Lord.
That’s really awesome. And yet, we sometimes want to test those boundaries. Don’t we?
I mean, I do. I feel like somedays I’m living on the edge, but yet, God draws me back inside, loving me back to the life I am called to live. What a wonderful God we have.
God gives us a HUGE playground. God calls us to run, jump, enjoy. But also calls us to boundaries. Our baptismal promises (ones we affirm in our affirmation of faith) say this:
1) To live among God’s faithful people
2) To hear God’s Word and share in the Lord’s supper
3) To proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed
4) To serve all people, following the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
5) To strive for justice and peace in all the earth
It’s a HUGE playground. But yet, also, it’s a very healthy set of boundaries. God wants us to live out these baptismal promises in our daily lives. God calls us to bear witness to the gospel in word and deed. That means caring for the hurting, the foreigner, the homeless, the lost, and the broken. God calls us to glorify God with our actions. That means loving others and lifting them up rather than tearing them down. That means giving God the glory rather than pointing to ourselves. God calls us to respond to the Gospel by seeking unity and showing mercy. That means seeking those places of division and speaking gospel unity into them - even when we just don’t like it very much.
And here’s the best part, when - not if - we screw that up we’ll lose the privilege of being one with God’s people. We’ll lose the opportunity to embrace and realize God’s creative diversity. We’ll lose out on culture and growth and the beauty of working together to better the world.
But there’s also forgiveness, grace and mercy. God knows we’re not great at staying inside the boundaries. God knows we’re going to test them. And yet, just like a loving parent, lifts us back up when we fall, loves us, forgives us and sends us back into the playground to play some more.
Rest in the Lord today friends, and have some fun on the playground.
Lord, make me a disciple. Turn my feet around. Wrap me in your loving arms and show me this life that you’ve found. Amen
(prayer taken from the boywonder song “Make Me”)