Monday, November 24, 2008
Let the Little Children
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Luke 18:16
I was very young when I first started teaching Sunday School, probably around age twelve. I love teaching and working with kids and youth. I also love being a mom, and since I was twenty two when our eldest, Emily, was born, I have spent a majority of my adult life raising and caring for children. Our three daughters, Emily, Ariel and Phoebe have taught me more about the love of God than any seminary professor I have had. Their laughter and honesty, their challenge and forgiveness have been one of the greatest witnesses to God's call in my life. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. They have not had it easy, being PK's - priests kids - and it has been even harder on them when I became a bishop. Despite the loss of privacy and quick external judgment, they have always encouraged me in my ministry. They have seem some dark sides of the ordained life, and yet they have loved me beyond the roughest patches.
I sometimes envy the Moms in my neighborhood who are standing on the street waiting for their children at the end of the school day. I watch as their little ones come running out of school, into their arms, holding up great masterpieces, glad to be heading home at the end of the day. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. The moments of grace and joy that pass between a small child and a parent are the nearest thing to heaven I know. My children are too grown to be swept up and held aloft, too independent to live full time at home,and too well accomplished to need my constant cheering. I miss the easy answers, the band aids and the boo-boo kisses - the simple things I could do for them that worked like magic. And yet, their childhood caring has blossomed into a caring for the world. Each one has found a way to care for others, acting out the radical welcome of God, the God whose arms are thrown wide to embrace each one of us. No matter how broken an adult, Jesus sees the honest child, running to him for blessing. My daughters, each in their own unique way, act that out for others.
I want to live today in the childlike state. Not childish and selfish, but honest and open about my need. Ready to celebrate the small wonders of creations and thrilled to see the face of a loving family member. I want to have no shame for my own need of God and my family, rather, I want to leap with joy at the incredible welcome of God. May we all rejoice today, as God has invited us to come like small children. God has invited us to let ourselves be held,be blessed, be sung to, read to, band-aided, tears wiped - God has said come to me as children and understand heaven. And may we be grateful today for all the children who have taught us the simple and expansive love of God.