[Jesus said,] “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Mark 10:14 (NRSV)
Tomorrow in both of our churches we will celebrate the nativity through our children’s pageant. This has been a tradition in church with a variety of presentations for decades. I’m always struck by the ways in which we adults revel in hearing the “old, old story” of Jesus’ birth in new ways, and especially through our children.
Maybe it’s because we have so much to learn from our children. I wonder sometimes if their innocence and absorbing stories and information like sponges is some of what Jesus was talking about when he told his disciples to let the children come to him.
When we look at the history of the culture during Jesus’ day, we discover that children were not considered worth anything until they were old enough to begin carrying their load of the family business or the household duties. But, throughout the gospels, we find references to being like children in order to receive the kingdom of God.
Sometimes I think we become jaded as we grow older. Our habit become part of who we are, and our opinions are rigid and unchangeable. Whenever I preach, I am also preaching to myself because I need to hear the Good News over and over again, too. I need to hear the reminders of what it means to be a person of faith. I need to hear the instructions from Jesus about how to live my life as one of his followers.
Yet, there are also times when I wonder if anyone really pay attention to what I am saying. It seems as if behaviors don’t change much, but then I have to ask whether MY behavior has changed as I try to live in Jesus’ ways. Besides, I trust that God is working through the preaching because I certainly don’t have all the answers – only God has those. I am just the vehicle through whom God speaks – or doesn’t. We all hear the words and apply them as best we can, the behavior changes come from God.
So, when Jesus said to let the little children come to him, I think he really meant that, not only are the children welcome in the Kingdom, but they have something to teach us, too. I guess that’s why I enjoy the pageants – the children are teaching and preaching to us all about Jesus. Maybe they are the ones who really know him best after all.
How do you learn from children?
How can we be open to the message God has for us?
In what ways can we approach God as a child?