The Journey 158: Robert Raikes and Sunday School
Read: Deuteronomy : 6:6-9
Robert Raikes: While ministering as the general secretary of the Marthoma Sunday School Samajam, I might have used the life history of Robert Raikes a number of times both in the sermon and also while addressing youths and Sunday school children in camps and retreats. His life story had challenged so many children including myself, and I always felt thrilled to tell others the life of history of the founder of the modern Sunday school movement. Even while teaching, Christian education in the Marthoma seminary, the life and times of Robert Raikes, was one of the topics for study. It was thrilling to study and teach about a man who during the industrial revolution decided to work among the children who were left alone by the parents, because both the parents had to work to make a living during those times. With no proper care from the parents, the children lived wayward lives and started getting into a lot of vices. It was this sight that made Robert Raikes to start very informally the nurturing process in children. Thus the beginning of the non formal way of Christian nurturing and the beginning of Sunday school activities. One of the strange aspect during this time was that Raikes was never encouraged by the church and moreover the church was totally against the methodology of Christian nurturing being done by Raikes. Yesterday was a memorable day for me. Being in London for a short trip, I had the opportunity to go to visit Gloucester and the home of Robert Raikes. But when I visited this wonderful and historical place for the whole of the Sunday school children in the world, I was saddened by the sight that today, the home of the founder of Sunday school movement is used as a bar or a pub. The house has a few artefacts which tells that this house is where Robert Raikes lived, while people come and go out of the house, after having their drinks. Does the house of Robert Raikes carry any memories for us?. I think just as the church totally disowned Raikes in the beginning of his ministry, I feel the Church today also has disowned his history and memories today also. It is at this point that we need to address that what is the place of history in our life and how much value do we ascribe to the incidents of the past and the people who have led us, the church and the country. History carry living memories that are dynamic and only when we understand that can we bring transformation in our life, in our society and in our family.
This week we are meditating on the theme “Transformation in the family. The passage for our devotion is from Deuteronomy 6: 6-9. Here we find the command given by God to Moses. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates”. Why does God give this command to Moses to use certain aspects as symbols to be tied on the hand, to be used a objects on the doorframes and signs on the foreheads?. These are some of the ways that the next generation will remember the Lord and His mighty ways both in history and in human life. Thus in order to remember the Lord, and also if faith has to be nurtured to the next generation, the family needs to use symbols and memories and also living experience of people and family who were led by God. When there are no memories or if memories and history has no place in the life of an individual, it is the family that suffers. If family life has to be transformed it is important that we show to our children symbols of our wonderful redemptive past and also memories associated with our life. It is through these types of experiences that Christian nurturing begins. Church forgot the contribution of Robert Raikes and let not our children forget the way the Lord led us in the past both in our personal life and in our family life.
What is the place of history and memories in your family?