Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Belonging to Children

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. Matthew 19:13-15

One of my favorite children's book, which I first read to the children in daycare where I worked, and later to my own children, is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Written by Judith Viorst, it depicts a day in the life of a young boy. Everything is ugly that day and he constantly is threatening to move to Australia. He gets gum in his hair, no prize in his cereal, lousy sneakers, and on and on. The small slights and disappointments which add up to a child's desire to run away to some foreign land. At the end of the book, he announces that "some days are like that, even in Australia." The story tells of the daily challenges of being a child in the family and it resonates with every child (and adult) that I have every shared this story with. It is a honest story of the very real challenges of daily life. It makes us laugh and also makes one realize how hard it is for each of us to feel good about ourselves on any given day. Alexander is honest about his feelings and his discouragement.

The disciples have rejected the desire of parents and families to bring children to Jesus. Jesus then turns the tables on the disciples and says that God's kingdom is found among the children. God's kingdom belongs to the children. God's kingdom belongs to those who are willing to admit their need, willing to confess to the complexity of daily living, and to those who are not afraid to ask and to be needy. The disciples want to control their world as many adults do. Jesus wants to show us that God knows how hard it is to be human, and how willing God is to love us as a little child.

Today, I want to remember that I can indeed come to Jesus as a child. I can speak openly of my need and my discouragements. I can be real about the challenges of daily living. And I want to be confident in knowing that God loves me as a little child. I think I will also reread Alexander today, to remind myself of all the others around me who are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and who need a little love and encouragement in their lives. May we all offer ourselves as children so that God's love can live in our midst.

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