One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17 (NLT)
I see it on the faces of children every week when they gather for the Children’s Time with Pastor during the worship service. It’s that look of innocence and expectation particular to the little growing bodies and hopeful minds of children. It’s trust, curiosity, wonder, and faith all bursting with energy and ready to soak-up life’s experience like a flesh and blood sponge.
I have to confess – I love that time in worship. (Not just because I get to sit on the floor with the kids).
There are those who question the value of such a time as “the children’s sermon” or “kid’s lesson” in the context of a faith community’s worship.
But not me.
If anything that time shows how a community of faith ought to act.
Jesus permitted it; he even turned this gathering of little ones into a great life and salvation message for the “big kids” (the disciples). He told them unless you develop a little of that innocent trust in your own heart, you can forget heaven!
I also have to confess that, in the back of my mind (at least), most of the lessons I develop for the children are as much for the adults. I sometimes tell the children when they gather that we will talk about Jesus doing this or that…and then ask if it would be ok if the “big kids in the pews” listened-in.
And, so…are you listening?
Once, long ago, I went out on a limb with a series of children’s sermons. For the whole summer I passed around the “mystery bag” – a plain burlap sack. The kids would take turns bringing it home Sunday, choosing a toy or something from their room, and bringing it back the next week. Nobody was supposed to know what was in the bag until I called for the children to come forward, and the child presented it to me.
It puts a preacher (and the Holy Spirit) on the spot to come up with a valuable lesson with a couple hundred eyeballs waiting to see a pastor fall into the show-and-tell abyss.
One Sunday it was little Savannah who brought the mystery bag; it contained a broken statue of a woman carrying a water pot. (I just knew her Dad had chosen this one! He had a mean streak, my friend, Joe Ball).
But God provided something valuable. We had a broken woman, a water vessel…and we were seated near the baptizing pool! I got to talk for five minutes about how hard it would be to put this poor plaster lady back together. But then, as I turned the object lesson towards the woman at the well, the lights came on. The children made the connection naturally, as Savannah spoke…”Jesus put that lady back together; he can do that!”
Out of the mouths of babes!
I’m still doing children’s sermons (after 30+ years that’s quite a statement, you know?)
Although I haven’t done the mystery bag in a while, I think it’s time; it helps me have childlike faith to trust God that much!
For You, Today…
What “safe” parts of your life could use a little mystery bag to help you develop a little childlike trust today?