Rally Day
Proverbs 22:6
September 10, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For a newspaper article to be considered for publication, it must answer the Five W’s: who, what, why, when, where.  If the author wants to get and keep the reader’s attention, the Five W’s are necessary.  People read the newspaper to be informed, and if they can’t get their answers, they’re going to give up.

For Rally Day the text is Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  On the surface this passage is about teaching children.  But to gather all the information about this text it’s important that we examine it under the principle of the Five W’s, and we’ll start with the first W: who.

Rally Day is generally about the kickoff to Sunday school.  The school year has started, and Sunday school usually goes hand in hand with the school year.  Churches of all denominations are observing Rally Day and praying for a successful year during which children gather each week for Sunday school.  This is Emmanuel’s prayer as well because children need to hear the Bible stories and they need to learn what God has done for them to be trained in the Christian faith.  My fervent prayer every Sunday is that parents and/or grandparents bring their children to Sunday school and worship.  I pray this every single Sunday because an education in the Christian faith is the most important thing for the children.

If you’ve been to any Rally Day services that have been observed since I arrived fourteen years ago, you’ve heard me say that Rally Day isn’t just about children and Sunday school.  I don’t just say it on Rally Day either!  Every Christian adult should attend Bible study because we all have one thing in common with the Sunday school kids.  You know what it is?  You are a child, and every single child needs to be trained in the way to go.  Be honest for a minute.  Do you know everything you need to know about God, salvation, the Christian faith, and the Biblical accounts?  Of course you don’t, and neither do I!  That’s why today we’re not focusing just on children, but on the education of all Christians.  Little children never stop learning, and neither should you!  As Saint Paul wrote: As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed…and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:14-15).  Paul isn’t speaking to a child, it’s another pastor.  The who is also you.

The next W is kind of an obvious one, and I’ve touched on it already, it’s the what of Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Solomon could be talking about anything we must teach our children.  Your parents taught you look both ways before crossing the street, and it’s something you do to this day.  But Solomon is talking about training in God’s Word!  Solomon uses the term “way”, do you know what term was used in the book of Acts for Christianity?  The Way!  A coincidence?  I don’t think so.   We’re to train up our children in the things of God.  We don’t teach them to be good citizens in Sunday school or confirmation, the ladies teach Bible stories and Christian doctrine.  Here’s a quick side note: men you can teach too and we need men to be involved.

Training comes from the Bible because it’s the most important book there is!  The Bible serves as a guidebook, a source of Law – what we are to do and not do, and Gospel – what God has done and will continue to do.  Paul tells Timothy: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).  Paul is telling you that the Bible is more than a book – it’s literally God speaking to you!  He invites you to spend time with Him: hear His encouragement, be made repentant by His Law, be forgiven by His Gospel, receive promises of hope and strength, learn how to be a Christian in a non-Christian world.  The what is the most precious thing, outside of Jesus, God has given you.

The when and where of training don’t come from Proverbs, Moses relays them from God who says, And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deut. 6:6-7).  So, when and where do we train?  Everywhere and all the time!

I know that many of you with kids, and without, don’t have a lot of time to study the Bible in a quiet place.  Between sports, dance, school activities, work, doctor appointments and the like, downtime is a rare commodity.  You can use time that you maybe haven’t thought about.  Talk about faith during trips to practice.  Listen to an audio Bible.  Play Christian CD’s in car, including the ones the kids get at Vacation Bible School.  Read your child an Arch Book before bed.  Read the Portals of Prayer over breakfast.

We have to take time to listen to what God has to say because hearing it once will never cut it.  Hearing God’s Word twenty times won’t cut it.  There’s always more to learn, more to glean from the text, new ways of applying to different eras of our lives.  You get something different out of it when you’re eighty than when you were in High School.  The more exposure we have to it, the more we’ll learn and grow, and the better we and our children will be prepared for a harsh and wicked world, and that’s the final W, the why.

You know the importance of teaching our children rules, it’s one of our most important duties.  If we don’t teach them to look both ways, don’t text and drive, and for crying out loud don’t drink and drive, the consequences of breaking the rules can be catastrophic.  Christian teachings are more important than other things that we learn because the ramifications of not having the Christian faith, either in this life or the life to come, are far worse than anything else.  We have the awesome responsibility to, with God’s help, protect the souls of our children, and our own souls.  We teach the faith because we want our children to be saved, to be best equipped to face Satan, to find hope in a hopeless world, and peace in a chaotic one, and forgiveness for their sins.  We continually learn and study God’s Word because we want to be saved, to be best equipped to face Satan, to find hope in a hopeless world, and peace in a chaotic one and the forgiveness of our sins.  This is why God wants you to take every opportunity to read, mark, hear, learn, and inwardly digest the Bible.  You are the why He has given His Word to this world.

One note, I’d like to make here.  I know that this passage can be hard for some of you to hear.  You prayed, took your kids to church and Sunday school.  You did all you could and yet your children fell away from the faith or renounced it entirely.  This isn’t your fault, like you didn’t try hard enough.  Nor is God breaking a promise.  It’s just that Satan is at work and he loves to attack Christians.  So what do you do?  Pray.  Encourage when you can.  Trust that no one is beyond God’s love and forgiveness.  Let them know that God is the Father waiting for His wayward children with open arms.

Some say that there’s a final letter to the Five W’s, and that’s an “H” for how.  How do we do all this?  How do we teach our children?  How do we learn ourselves?  How do we find the motivation to read and hear the Bible?  How do we understand the need for Sunday school, Bible class, and Sunday services?  How indeed?  By the power of Jesus!  Paul says, I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  He’s not talking about succeeding at sports or business.  He’s not talking about opening a pickle jar.  He’s talking about persevering in the face of hardship and temptation.  It’s only by power of Jesus who comes to us through the Holy Spirit, that we’re able to do anything.  It’s by the power of forgiveness through Christ’s blood when we fail.  It’s by God’s grace found in His Word and Sacraments.  The how is found in His very Word God has gifted you.  It’s found in His Son.

I tried to avoid making this sermon a lecture, and maybe I succeeded and maybe I didn’t, but God’s Word comes to us in a variety of forms.  Nor is this sermon intended to guilt you into devotions or reading your Bible, or making you feel bad for not being as good with your children as you probably should.  Rather, by God’s grace I want you to know that you’re forgiven for your failures, and see that hearing God’s Word, as often as possible, and making it part of us, is a blessing.  God commands us to worship, read, and hear His Word, but it’s a command with a promise that when we do so we and our children will be richly rewarded.  May God grant you His grace and strength to begin this new year hungry for His Word and to be trained in the way to go.

Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen