Day Twenty-seven: Tuesday, July 14th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 19:1-15
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“Let the little children come to me”
This is not the disciples’ finest moment. “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.”
The Coronavirus has taken a toll on our society in numerous ways, one of which is that for many of us, we have not had children in our lives on a regular basis. I’m sure those who are parents or grandparents with children in their homes during the crisis have had their work cut out for them, and I pray families find strength and stamina as they care for children during this extended time of isolation. But I’m writing from the perspective of one who has dearly missed time with children. And I am writing in opposition to disciples who shoo children away and rebuke those who bring the little ones to Jesus. I am not alone in my opposition to disciples like this. Jesus answered their rebukes with his precious words, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Then he placed his hands on them.
The long drought of seeing children during the Coronavirus has been punctuated by sweet moments of contact.
- A family came by our house to pick up something Julie had made for them. The little girl was barely walking the last time I saw her. Now she bounded about our yard. The boy was full of energy with a smile that brought joy to my heart. As we tossed a frisbee around he made sure to include his sister and was such a kind and caring big brother.
- The slide show Andy has included in our online prelude has often included the children of the church, and just to see their faces warms my heart. Some of the cute pictures bring a tear to my eye. And a few simply make me laugh at the innocence of our little ones.
- Nancy Fortin tried an online Sunday school with the children, a zoom meeting on Sunday mornings. One morning she read the beautiful children’s story, “I’ll Love You Forever.” Listening to Nancy read and seeing the faces of the sweet little friends God has put in our life as a church family did my heart good.
- One mom sent me a video of her daughter working hard to memorize the Lord’s Prayer. She didn’t get every word right but knowing that she was on her way to capturing this important prayer and tucking it away in heart gave me a great feeling of joy and peace.
- And then there was the Sunday morning when families were invited to color the church parking lot with chalk. It was one of the last Sunday’s before we started gathering for worship. There was a buzz of activity as the surface of our parking lot was transformed from neat and orderly lines marking parking spaces into a bright display of creativity and energy and life.
Right now these wonderful moments are few and far between. I long for the day when they will be part of our regular routine, when children will hurry down to the front of our sanctuary to hear a message just for them, when our preschool and afterschool programs will be bustling centers of learning and play, when our Sunday school classes will be reading the stories of faith and exploring ways to express a growing love for Jesus. Now, when those days are few and far between, and someday when they will be part of our regular routine, I am absolutely certain you will join me in welcoming the children, in taking seriously the words of our Lord Jesus, who said in no uncertain terms, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
“It seems probably that Jesus’ saying was understood by Matthew and his church as authorizing the practice of including children and young people in the corporate life of the church. This is suggested also by his inclusion of children with men and women in the great feeding scenes (14:21; 15:28). Regarded from a sociological point of view, this may have been one of the reasons why Christianity spread so rapidly in the Roman world. There were popular religions for men (Mithraism) and for women (the religion of the bona Dea). Christianity offered a family religion in which both sexes and all ages could participate together. In the present context the symbolic function of the children has a special importance. They are allowed to come to Jesus
‘because of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew has already introduced this idea at 18:3: ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.’ The child is the paradigm of what it means to be helplessly dependent on the Father in heaven.” (Douglas Hare, Matthew, 224).