Many of you will remember Robert Mudd. He is a member of Trinity, although he has been gone for about a year. His passing is a sad one for our church and one that is especially sad for TrinKids. During his time in Tuscaloosa, he was heavily invested in the lives of our children. He served most every week at TrinKids PM, helping to lead our sports club. He was a favorite of many children and has been and will be missed by many here, especially myself. Below is his obituary, which was in the paper today. I invite you and your children to come to his memorial service tomorrow as we celebrate this man and the life he lived in service to Trinity.
ATLANTA, Ga. Robert Hiden Mudd III, age 30, of Atlanta, Ga., died June 4, 2013. Memorial services will be 2 p.m. Friday at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa.
He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Dr. Robert H. Mudd, and his grandmother, Emelil Mudd Williams.
Survivors include his mother and stepfather, Kimberly Gambril Kirk and William Lifford Kirk of Tuscaloosa; his father and stepmother, Robert Hiden Mudd Jr. and Barbara McLean Mudd of Point Clear; his sisters, Allison Mudd Papaleo (Justin M. Papaleo) and Amy Turner Kirk, all of Tuscaloosa; his stepsister, Sadie McLean Cooper (Scott Hall Cooper) of Point Clear; his stepbrother, Charles Elliott McLean of Point Clear; his grandfathers, Donald Lee Gambril of Tuscaloosa and Darden Homer Williams of Birmingham; his grandmother, Teddy Janaes Gambril of Tuscaloosa; his uncles, Gregory Lee Gambril (Julie B. Gambril) of Tuscaloosa and Troy Alan Gambril (Joan L. Gambril) of Birmingham; his aunt, Margo Mudd Walter (Frank J. Walter III) of Montclair, N.J.; and numerous loving cousins.
He was a graduate of Tuscaloosa Academy Class of 2001. He was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity and graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Alabama in 2005.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making donations to Teen Challenge.
Below is the riveting introduction to the 1840 edition of The Catechism for Young Children, which is what we use in TrinKids. Let it feed and encourage you in your task as a parent:
TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS.
You have an awfully responsible office in being entrusted with the training of immortal spirits for the service of God on earth and for glory in heaven. The temporal welfare and the eternal salvation not only of your own children, but of future generations, may depend upon your faithfulness in the discharge of this duty. The prosperity, and even the continuance, of the church of God on earth are connected with the religious education of the rising generation. To aid you in this all-important task the following little work has been written, and is humbly offered to your acceptance. Brevity and conciseness have been studied in the composition of it as far as the nature of the subjects treated of would allow. But much of the benefit to be derived from this work will depend on the judgment and care exercised in the use of it. Without these requisites even the words of inspiration may be perverted to convey defective or erroneous views of truth ; and with them even an imperfect work like the present may be made a “ light to the feet and a lamp to the path” of your interesting charge. Be admonished then to enter on this “work of faith and labor of love” “with diligence, preparation and prayer.” Endeavor to impress the minds of the dear children with the importance of understanding what they learn. Be not satisfied with the verbal accuracy of their answers. Encourage them to ask and be ready to answer questions for information, while you gently check a spirit of idle curiosity. Endeavor to make what most children consider an irksome task a pleasing and profitable study. Be not discouraged nor chafed in your minds if you find that “ line upon line and precept upon precept” are required to overcome the dullness or heedlessness of your youthful disciples. Remember the words of the divine Teacher, who, when inviting sinners to become his disciples, said, “ Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” And emulate the spirit of the pious mother who, when asked by a witness of her patience and successful perseverance in the instruction of one of her children, “ How could you repeat that sentence to the child twenty times?” answered, “ If I had repeated it only nineteen times I should have lost my labor.” Acting thus in the spirit of faith and prayer, you shall in due time reap the fruit of your labors, and when your heads are laid low in the dust your children shall rise up and call you blessed.
I saw something beautiful one day while walking down Breckenridge Lane. In a front yard not far from my home, a young mother was removing a layer of leftover leaves from the fall in preparation for planting spring flowers—an ordinary activity in the middle of an ordinary day.
What was extraordinary about this scene was what I saw beside this young woman.
A tow-haired boy, perhaps three or four years old, was attempting to assist her. His rake was man-sized, his movements were far from efficient, and he was leaving more leaves than he moved. Yet, as I passed this mother and child, I heard no criticisms. Instead, I heard a constant stream of encouragement: “Daddy will be so proud of your hard work! Can you try to get those leaves over there? You know, honey, it might work better if you turned the rake over.”
If this woman’s sole goal for the afternoon was leaf removal, her best bet would have been to plop her preschooler in front of a television to watch professionally-produced children’s programs that pretend to equip children with skills for life while leaching away their capacity for meaningful relationships. If this mother had chosen this option, she could have pursued the goal of planting spring flowers far more efficiently.
But this woman had a goal that was far bigger than any flower-bed.
This woman understood that her deeper purpose on this day was not to improve a yard but to shape a soul. She was teaching her child the value of work and partnership and family structures, in addition to the quite crucial skill of knowing which side of a rake is supposed to face the ground. She was an amateur, in the best and oldest sense of the word “amateur”: a person who engages in a particular activity because of love. She most likely possessed no transcripted credential in the fields of motherhood or leaf removal. But that was all for the best anyway because no credential could develop in a child what this mother was engraving in her son’s soul that afternoon.
So what does all of this have to do with family ministry?
Simply this: If you’re a church leader trying to train parents to embrace their role as disciple-makers in their children’s lives, you are likely to wonder at some point, “Wouldn’t it be more efficient for hired professionals to disciple children through church programs instead of expecting parents to participate in this process? No matter how many times I encourage and equip the moms and dads, some of them don’t even seem to be trying! Even the ones that try don’t always do a good job. Why constantly acknowledge the parents as primary disciple-makers when so many of them do it so poorly? This is so inefficient!”
If that’s the way you feel, you’re partly correct! If your goal is organizational efficiency, equipping parents to disciple their children may be an inefficient use of your time, and turning over children’s spiritual lives to professionals at church might make perfect sense.
But efficiency is not the goal of gospel-motivated ministry.
The crucified and risen Lord Jesus determines the shape and establishes the goal for his church, and it has been his Father’s good pleasure to constitute his church as a conglomeration of amateurs, not as a corporation managed by professionals (1 Cor 12:4–31). His Spirit does not give gifts for the purpose of making the church efficient. The Holy Spirit arranges gifts in the body according to his will in order to make his people holy (1 Cor 12:11).
The role of God-called leaders is to encourage and to equip their brothers and sisters in their communities of faith to serve as ministers and missionaries first within their own households, and then far beyond their households (Acts 2:39; Eph 4:11–13). These processes are not likely to be quick or efficient. Sometimes, it will feel as if professionalized programs would be an easier solution, but no church program can develop in a child what parents are able to engrave in their children’s souls day-by-day. And so, despite the apparent inefficiency of expecting parents to disciple their own children, family-equipping ministers persist in their passion for training fathers and mothers as the primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives.
In the early twentieth century, a journalist named G.K. Chesterton offered these comments about the British and American jury system:
The trend of our epoch up to this time has been consistently towards specialism and professionalism. We tend to have trained soldiers because they fight better, trained singers because they sing better, trained dancers because they dance better, specially
instructed laughers because they laugh better, and so on and so on. … [Yet] our civilization has decided, and very justly decided, that determining the guilt or innocence of men is a thing too important to be trusted to trained men. When it wishes for light upon that awful matter, it asks men who know no more law than I know, but who can feel the things that I felt in the jury box. When it wants a library catalogued, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses up specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing round. The same thing was done, if I remember right, by the Founder of Christianity.
A similar statement might be made regarding the training of children to respond to the gospel day-by-day. Though professionals may certainly partner with parents in this task, such a serious undertaking is too significant to be relinquished to professionals, too profound to be befuddled by a focus on efficiency. The formation of a child’s faith is not a skill for specialists. It is a habit to be developed in the lives of divinely-designated amateurs, and these amateurs are known as “Dad” and “Mom.”
In my childhood, one of the most significant habits that shaped my soul was a single, simple pattern that required no special skills. Each night, my mother came into my room, sat on the side of my bed, and listened to me pray. What was significant about this wasn’t so much the praying, which was pretty much the same every night. It was the conversations about life that arose in the context of prayer—coupled with the fact that I had to face my mother every evening, regardless of what I might have done during the day.
At some point in early adolescence, I informed my mother that I could handle praying on my own from that point forward. I regretted my request even then, and I regret it even more now. In some inexplicable way, knowing that I would have to pray with my mother each night placed a limit on what I was willing to say and to do during the day.
Today, this pattern from my childhood marks the end of each day in the lives of each of my own children. A few months ago, when my teenager suggested that she might not need me to pray with her each night, my response ran something like this: “You know, I think you are totally able to pray on your own, and I want you to pray on your own as well. But, even though you don’t need my help to pray, I need the reminder every night that God gave you to me and that I’m responsible to guide you toward him. So, every night, I’ll still be here to pray with you, no matter what.” Since that moment, my daughter and I have had dozens of important night-time conversations that I might otherwise have missed. Is it always efficient or easy? No—but it is a right and good response to God’s work in our family.
Writing is a difficult task. Blogging presents an even greater challenge. Putting big thoughts into small spaces is a good discipline, but often you can lose things in translation. Words on a screen can convey many meanings to different people. Since writing “Sin and White Guilt” as a follow-up to a sermon illustration, I have had time reflect on some of the messages which may have been communicated. I would like to take a few moments to clarify what I mean.
One of these messages may have been that you cannot live in a nice home, drive a luxury car, and have lots of money while also serving the interests of Christ. This could not be further from how I feel. My desire is to caution people against feeling this kind of guilt. What the Lord has blessed you with and your standing before the Lord has absolutely no correlation and anyone who would tell you otherwise is preaching a false gospel.
Another message may have been that the American church and Trinity Presbyterian in particular are not generous. However, this is not what my heart was at all. There are many in Christ’s church in America and more specifically here in Tuscaloosa at Trinity who love their neighbors and communities in such a way that makes me stand in awe. From people who give free after school care for underprivileged children to those who provide pro bono legal and medical service to those who cannot afford it, we are on mission with Jesus! I want to encourage those of you on mission and to urge some of us to engage for the first time.
One final message is that you should not live in a good school district and that if you are currently living in one you should move out. The school districting in Tuscaloosa is an example of the corruptive force sin can have on a society. The socioeconomic divide in Tuscaloosa school districts is a symptom of a much larger problem known as sin. The only solution to sin is Jesus’s return. It is naïve for someone to think they are going to remedy the problem of sin in our community by trying to treat the symptom. One person moving out of a school district is not going to fix the systematic problem created by sin.
That being said, God is bringing his kingdom to earth and so he is going to ask all of us to be a part of that in some way. For most, it may look like being a blessing within our families and churches. For some of us it will mean being a missionary overseas. For others it will be to conduct honest business in a corrupt world. And…for some of us in Tuscaloosa it may take on other shapes and forms. Some of you have already sensed that call and have met the need in unprecedented ways. Others will be called to meet that need at some point in your life.
My heart is to say that if the Lord calls you to be a part of racial and social reconciliation in Tuscaloosa, that fear or guilt cannot be the motivator. Only Spirit-empowered wisdom and love for God’s people will be a sustainable force in these callings.
Thank you for being patient and forbearing with me as I myself wrestle through these same issues. My prayer is that the Lord continues to announce his fame through Trinity Church.