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Thursday, January 31, 2013
Today’s Reading | Mark 10:13–16
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (NRSV)
Jesus calls children to be his disciples just as surely as he called Peter and Andrew, James and John. I believe children have the same ability to love, serve, and follow Jesus as does any adult. However, how they sense and respond to that call is different: children are not interested in what Jesus is saying but in Jesus himself.
My own call came to me as a child. I sensed at a very early age that my growth and development would be centered around Jesus. After forty years of ministry with children, I am certain that children can receive such a call. I marvel at their curiosity about all things religious and am astounded witnessing them use religious language that seems to come so naturally. When given the freedom and encouragement to do so, children pray with ease and talk about God in a most natural way. But their nonverbal sense of and response to the call of Jesus comes first. They eagerly explore the mysteries of faith.
We observe the tradition of La Posada at our December Family Night each year. Children and their families knock on doors of the church asking to be admitted as Mary and Joseph did at the inn. They are turned away time and again until finally they are recognized and invited to enter. After La Posada this year, a four-year-old told his mother that was the number one thing he loved about Christmas; number two was receiving presents. Following Jesus and being invited in . . . Let the little children come to me.
After forty years I conclude my professional ministry today believing what I have sensed from my own childhood: that children are a means of grace to the church. Children are called to share their witness with us, and the depth of that witness is wonderfully childlike yet profound.
Dear God, thank you for children; thank you for your child; thank you for the child in each of us. Amen.
Written by Donna Gray, Minister for Children and Families
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