October 18, 1998 - Laity Sunday
First Congregational Church, 36 Main Street, New Milford, Ct  06776
Susan Schultz and Gail Higginbottom
Write to Gail

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Parent on the Edge.

How familiar is this:

Bubbles on Summer days

Jumping into Leaves

Band aids on skinned knees

How dreaded are these:

The 2 year old that wants candy for breakfast

The child that begs for the latest and greatest video game.

Or the teen that wants a tattoo.

How do you remember being a child?

For some

it’s a wonderful time

With loving, caring parents.

For some

it wasn’t wonderful

there wasn’t much love or security.

Given these differences

Children usually have such a wonderful sense of the simple joys of life They enjoy simple pleasures.

This is the time of the

Beloved Child

children also experience

the "unfairness of life" because they lack control

Life is unfair because.....

candy tastes so good why can’t I have it


everyone will think I’m a dork if


and the ever popular,

but all my friends are

These are the time of the Rebellious Child

I have spent many days as a rebellious child

As my parents would agree.

I never got into really terrible trouble

Just the ordinary stuff most teenagers get into.

I can still see the questioning look my parents gave as I would be caught yet again....

It seemed to say

"What are we doing wrong with this one?"

Through the prophet Hosea,

God is telling us"

after all I do for them...

I teach them,

care for them

Nurture, protect

and love them.

These Beloved children.... continue

to turn away from me and all I wish for them!


God also compares the people of Israel to the

Rebellious Child

where God’s unconditional love is rejected and the children are disloyal

forgetting the Goodness of God.




I suppose that is exactly how my parents felt with each of my rebellious acts.

But at the time how I thought they were mean....

Oh, you just don’t want me to have fun....

or how Unfair

But why cant I have the same stuff as all my friends and go where my friends go.

We can also read in the message that:

God felt like giving up on us.


But just like my parents didn’t give up on me and throw their hands in the air and walk away.


so does God continue to love

there is no giving up !

no walking away!

no matter what we think or do!

God continues to love us all as we continue to push away as we continue to be rebellious.

And now as I try to focus on being one of God’s

Beloved Children.


All of God’s unconditional Love and Nurturing care is there for each of me. without condition.






When was the last time your child climbed into your lap, curled up and rested their head on your shoulder, listened to you read a story, or just sat quietly and comfortably, secure in your love? Was it just this morning, or is it a warm memory? I cherish the momentary closeness with a child on the run?

All of us here are someone’s child. We know what it is to be a child, what we felt, what we saw, what we experienced in our own families, what we observed in others. We know that no matter what we did, we expected to be loved and cared for. Like our own children, we sought it out. If we recieved that love, we often took it for granted; if we did not receive it, we were confused and wondered why. As children of any age we expect so much of our parents. As parents we need to remember what it was to be a child.

Many of us here are parents. It is the fabric of who we are; it is the compass that guides everything we do. No matter who or what else shapes us, the fact that we have children molds our values, our choices, our actions and our other relationships. And despite the most trying of days, or even years, we love our children beyond measure. And, of course, many of us vowed to be better parents than our parents were, with varying degrees of success. The statement from a sibling, "You sound just like Mom!" - or Dad - isn’t necessarily a complement even in the most loving homes.



As parents, we want our children to be happy, successful, intelligent, and kind - to be good people. We feel their joy in a game well played or a new discovery. We experience their pain in a hard-played game lost, or at the cruelty of another child. And we share their wonders and amazement in rainbows and stars, and frogs and other slimy things they bring home for our appreciation. I’m still not sure my mother’s recovered from my sisters’ and my pet white rat.

As parents we also set rules and boundaries that are stretched beyond their limits. We give second and third chances, and mete out punishments and time-outs, and take away priveleges and freedoms. We rely on teachers, coaches, scout leaders, and clergy to reinforce important rules and lessons that may be missed coming from us.

And we have all experienced the hurt and frustration of having our lovingly scattered pearls of wisdom completely ignored. Our dire warnings and severest punishments go unheeded. And worse, our love is scorned and rejected. We become "uncool" very early on.

My children are small yet and I know that more "interesting" challenges are headed my way, but there are many days now when bedtime can’t come soon enough. I often find myself praying for patience and the ability to get through the day without becoming fodder for future therapy sessions for my children. But every night without fail I go into each child’s room to kiss them goodnight and remind myself of how wonderful and special they are. Such peace, beauty and innocence while they sleep!


Of course, nothing our children inflict on us can compare to the challenges we have given God, and yet His love remains constant - unconditional in the face of tremendous betrayal and disloyalty.

The prophet Hosea has given us a beautiful picture of God as the kind of parent we can only hope to be. God’s love shines through great anger. He doesn’t give up on us, just as we don’t give up on our own children. God brings us home and takes us in - again and again. He tries to get through to us in so many ways and always has a back-up plan.

God interferes in our lives lovingly, just as we do our children’s. He establishes covenants and hands down rules and commandments. He gives us tokens and signs of his love, like the rainbows my son loves so much. Just as we find role models for our children, God gives us role models that are perhaps more tangible to us than God Himself. And God warns us over and over again of the consequences of our actions, which we choose to ignore or try to barter a "deal" - the sort of "if you let me get away with this, then I’ll be ever so good" type of thing our own children do with us.

When I pray to God for patience, I pray to the ultimate unselfishly patient parent. I tap the deepest well of love, and borrow from it to pass on to my own children. I borrow God’s love to restore my own confidence on the hardest days, and replenish and forgive


myself on the days I feel I’ve failed as a parent. God reminds me I am human, and while I cannot and never will be the ultimate parent as He is, I have His example and love to strengthen my resolve.


Susan and I have shared some of our ideas here this morning.


the most important message that God gives us through the reading is

we are all loved and cared for by our parent God

we are all the Beloved Children.

God will continue to love us with all the undonditional love, like a parent even when we act like a Rebellious child and we must forgive ourselves when we act rebellious because we are always forgiven.


This is the promise of God unconditional love for each of us.

We should Remember that this week for ourselves and for our children when the rebellious and whinny child begins that musical song.

But I gotten have it Noooooooow!!!!

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