My pastor for the past 20 years retired last fall. As his final months and weeks in the pulpit approached, he opened his extensive library to many in the congregation to peruse. I happily took advantage of the opportunity.
One of the handful of books I took off his hands was a very small, very tattered pocket volume titled Religion in the Home. It was simply a printed copy of an old sermon given to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States — in 1909. But I have found much of it profound in the months since.
It’s startling in many ways — yet not in some ways — how similar the struggle of Christian living was in early 20th century America as it is today. Some truths and some battles are timeless. I hope to share some excerpts from this sermon going forward.
The particular passage below struck me as worth sharing first, so I’m presenting it below unedited and without extra commentary. It speaks for itself. May it be an encouragement and a challenge to parents and ministry leaders.
“While parents have little control over heredity, they have immense control over environment, the other main force in the making of our children; and when it is asked how parents can meet the tremendous responsibility resting upon them — how they can effectually teach the character-making and soul-saving Word of God to their children, as Moses here enjoins — the answer is, first, by the creation of a right environment, a religious atmosphere in the home. Modern conditions have made this far more difficult to do than it used to be. When apartment houses are taking the place of homes, when the feverish rush of business prevents anything like a leisurely breakfast, and is still more fatal to anything like family worship, when the two great ends of life seem to be money and pleasure, when husbands and wives are never so happy as when at the club, the bridge party, or the theatre, and never so bored as when forced to stay at home — the difficulty of creating a wholesome moral atmosphere for children to grow up in is obviously very much increased. Yet the creation of such an atmosphere is an absolute necessity. Without it Christianity can not win out. The Christian home is the hope of the world.” – Walter W. Moore, 1909.