Text: Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:13-16
Reflection: An image from this story was painted on the wall of my Sunday school hallway as a child. Jesus looked like a young Mr. Rogers, with flowing brown locks and a pristine white robe. This Jesus/Mr. Rogers had a gaggle of children sitting on his lap, surrounding him, adoring him, and listening to him. He smiled. They smiled.
During this first week of school closings, at home with twin 8-year-old boys, I read this passage remembered that image on the wall and thought yeah, right. Try that today Jesus, they’re not going to gather around. They’re going to ask for snacks, tell you they’re bored, and you’re probably going to get hit with something from a nerf gun. But yes, by all means, let the children come, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.
After I got over (read: through) my impatient mom moments of trying to do be productive, do homeschool, and practice social distancing, I re-read this and stopped and listened to my children. This passage isn’t really captured in how it was painted on the wall in that hallway. It’s about the nature of children. They hold our anxiety when we don’t mean for them to do so. It comes out differently in little humans. They have the meltdowns we are holding back. They have less coping mechanisms, and currently most of the ones they had they’re no longer allowed to do. No playdates, no gym time, no sports. They accept without argument that they stay home not so they don’t get sick, but so they make sure others don’t get sick. They don’t complain that things close. They tell me to turn off the news because I have listened to enough “corona stuff” today. They are right. The kingdom of heaven invites us into a space that isn’t fraught with live updates, anxiety, and answers. It is built with concern not complaints. It is built by the children. In all the voices we are listening to at these times, let’s not forget to listen to our children as well.
Prayer: God help us to listen to the voices of our children. Help us to heed their wisdom and embody their unbridled joy and innocence. May they carry our dreams and not our anxiety. May they show us more clearly what your kingdom on earth is all about. Amen.
Focus for the Day: Today let us learn from our children as we face the unknown.