Monday, February 9, 2009

We were all children

"Jesus took a child and stood among them. Then he took the child up in his arms and said to his followers, 'Whoever receives one of these little children in my name, receives me.' " Mark 9:36-37

Before the holidays, my aunt Joy lent me several albums of old family photos so that I could scan them, clean them up and make copies for family members. It was painstaking work since many of the old photos had been bent, torn, water damaged and faded. It was also exhilarating and quite frightening some of the time. I saw images of my aunts and uncles, my grandparents and great grandparents as babies and children. I could recognize familiar characteristics in these photos - characteristics I see in my children and myself. I also saw all of the adult posturing of my mom and her siblings in their childish postures. All of their characters were completely present when they were very small, including the peculiar quirks and fetching mannerisms, all there from the very beginning. And I also saw emerging the child that they still are - the one that needs a special kind of attention and welcome.

Jesus takes a little child in his arms and tells those who will listen that in welcoming and receiving a child, we welcome Jesus. I used to think this meant welcoming innocence, playfulness and tenderness. Now I realize it means much, much more. For the children my parents and their siblings were, these are the ones who still need to be welcomed by faith communities and by God. The bravado, the polish and the skills aside, it is the quirky, uncoordinated, goofy, slightly spastic children that present themselves before God, no matter what we see present at the time.

Today, I ask God to help me see behind all the defensive barriers that adults construct. Help me to see the children as they are, as they present themselves to God - open, vulnerable and slightly afraid. May I be brave enough this day to offer my real self, the little child that I am to God. May we all have the courage to see others as God see them, as little smudged up, awkward children, arms reaching up, aching to be held by Jesus.

1 comment:

the Webmaster said...

Bishop and Friend,

Once again your Blog has hit home. A little different, but just what I needed.

Yesterday we at a Children's Sabboth Service. The Sunday School classes of been studying for this and it was wonderful to see their radiant faces in the first 3 rows.

The trick was, at 6:00 AM, our Rector's husband called me to say that the Rector was very sick. She has been fighting something for weeks, but didn't have time to slow down. We are very fortunate to have, on any given Sunday between 1 and 4 retired clergy in attendance. I called one, but only received and answering machine. The next call (Not at 6:00 am) was more successful. He hasn't been a Celebrant at St. James before, but was very willing to celebrate at the 10:00am Service.

I covered the 8:00am with Morning Prayer (haven't done that for a long time) and awaited the arrival of our Retired Clergy. Reviewed the service, as it was new to both of us and we began our worship, on time.

Our Celebrant did a wonderful job giving a homily directed at the Children. The eyes of the children told the story. Wide open watching, listening, and learning what was being said. A couple of them lead the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. Their timid voices started out "slightly afraid" but the could be heard by all.

We led our barriers down and the children presented themselves at the Altar with us.

Thank you for the Blog and for all that you are.