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Remembering our song

When our first grandson entered the world two months into a global pandemic, my husband—now a “Papa”—and I were in awe of this 8.5-pound miracle, as were his parents and our other three adult children. On our first visit, while wearing masks and visiting outside under a canopy, we put our worries of the world aside and gave thanks for this gift from God.

I don’t know if he had planned it ahead of time or if the idea hit him at the moment, but as we gathered our belongings, preparing to say goodbye, Papa said, “Let’s sing our song before we leave.” Our song? Tilting my head and squinting his way, I wondered, “What song?” Then he sang the first line, and I knew. The tune transported me back 25 years to the nursery in our first home.

It was bedtime. We had fed our baby boy and changed his diaper. We had bathed our toddler, put on his pajamas, and brushed his teeth. We found his favorite stuffed toys and pacifiers and turned down the lights. There was only one thing left to do—if we weren’t too exhausted.

My husband or myself—whoever’s turn it was to handle the bedtime routine—stood over the crib and toddler bed and began “our songs”—one verse of “Sleep Sound in Jesus” followed by “Barocha” (meaning blessing, based on Numbers 6:24-26), both from our Michael Card CD. By the time we reached the final words,

And give you peace

And give you peace

And give you peace forever,

the child was yawning, and his eyelids were heavy.

We continued this ritual for all four of our children. But as they grew and became more independent, and our lives got busier, the songs faded. Had I known then that those precious times would eventually fade away, I would have held on longer, or at least marked the last time we sang that lullaby as a special occasion. But as it is with goodnight hugs, footie pajamas, kissed boo-boos, and story time in our laps, those tender moments fade away without our awareness until they simply are no more.

Practicing our rituals

When life gets in the way, we forget. We neglect the rituals—the songs, prayers, and bedtime blessings—that “pass the peace” on to our children.

Like the stiff-necked people of God in the Old Testament, we wander away, often instilling other values in our children—values that resemble a golden calf, such as good grades, financial security, marriage, and a good job. We distract and numb ourselves with politics, technology, food or alcohol, and social media. These pursuits and distractions rob us and our children of our true source of peace.

God knew we—his people—would forget, so he gave us explicit instructions, with at least 10 ways for us to remember, and to help our children remember.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 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 (Deut. 6:5-9).

These days, we rarely tie symbols on our hands or foreheads. Nor do we have the Jewish custom of writing our faith symbols (the mezuzah) on our door frames. But 21st-century Christians can still impress our faith on future generations.

Whether it is our children or grandchildren, or those of our relatives, friends, or church family, God has tasked us with passing on our faith. As we witness and take part in baptism, we promise to love, encourage, and support our youth by teaching the gospel, being a Christian example, and supporting them as part of God’s family. Passing on our faith might require intentionality, but there are many ways of doing it.

We can share stories of God’s faithfulness in our lives through past struggles. As we pray with and for our young ones, and teach them to pray, we impart our trust in God. Modeling acts of worship and service demonstrates our faith in action. Teaching them to love others despite differences, through humility and grace, shows them how Jesus taught us to love. Apologizing when we’ve done wrong sets an example of confession, repentance, and our need for forgiveness.

Bestowing our blessing

We can pass on our faith in countless ways, but perhaps the best place to start is by reminding them of “the blessing” that brings peace over fear.

Though rituals and cherished moments with our infants and toddlers fade as they grow, we cannot forget or neglect to remind our children to whom we all belong. Our actions, words, prayers, and songs remind our children of God’s ever-present love and care for them.

It’s not surprising that during the pandemic—a time filled with fear and sadness—the song that went viral in contemporary worship was “The Blessing” (Cody Carnes, Elevation Worship, and Kari Jobe). Like the blessing my husband and I sang over our babies, this song was also based on Numbers 4:24-26. These words of peace were first spoken from the mouth of God, then passed through Moses, to Aaron and his sons, and through “1,000 generations”—to the family of God today, to your family and mine, your children and grandchildren, and mine.

After several years without “our song,” on a sunny day in May during a global pandemic, we gathered around this new babe—his Papa and Lala, the new parents, aunts, and uncle—and fumbled through our blessing song as the words came back to us. We had not forgotten them after all.

The Lord bless you and keep you

The Lord make His face shine upon you

And give you peace

And give you peace

And give you peace forever.


The Lord be gracious to you

The Lord turn His face towards you

And give you peace

And give you peace

And give you peace forever.

As it did when our children were young, this simple act has become a ritual. Each time we visit our grandson, and now our granddaughter too, we end our time together by singing Peace before hitting the road. As a young toddler, the little guy tried to run away for a while to avoid the attention, his bedtime, or saying goodbye. But over time he has learned the song and sometimes even sings along.

Through their simple understanding, the two little ones, now nearly 1 and 4 years old, receive God’s blessing each time we say farewell. Our adult children, whenever present, join in. And it occurs to me, that we are not only blessing our grandchildren with these words but are reminding our children of the blessing we once sang over them and that we continue to pray over them: that the Lord will bless and keep them, make his face shine upon them, and give them peace.

May that peace guard our hearts and minds and those of our children for a thousand more generations.

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