"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Lent Day 37 - Thursday

“And Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me and don’t stop them. For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.’ ” (Matthew 19:14)

  Back when I worked for the library, one of my favorite evenings was when I worked in the children’s room. I’ve enjoyed working with kids since I was just out of college and working part-time in a church kindergarten program and full-time in the church recreation ministry. Not being a parent, it’s fun and enjoyable to me because I can play with them, spoil them and then send them home with their parents. It’s neat to get on their level (meaning the floor) and have a good conversation about stuff and nonsense, but to also draw them into a more serious conversation, too. To treat them as people and not just little weebles or something. But, there is something endearing about looking up and just seeing a head of hair and eyes peeping over the counter at you, and asking where the latest “Fancy Nancy” or “Junie B. Jones” books are.

  Of course my favorite kids were the little boy who wanted to be called Emily Elizabeth, even though his name was Brad. And his mother could not persuade him that he was not Emily Elizabeth. And, then there was the little Asian girl who would come running in once a week, year-round, singing “Joy to the World” at the top of her lungs. The Christmas one….not the bullfrog one. She only knew that first phrase in English and the rest was in Chinese, but she was a cutie patootie.

  As Jesus began His journey toward Jerusalem for the Passover, he spent so much time teaching and telling parables to everyone he encountered. At one point, a group of parents brought their children for a blessing and, being kids, they were probably laughing and playing, so the disciples tried to stop them from getting too close to Jesus. When He saw this, he scolded His disciples with the quote used in the scripture for today. What did Jesus mean about Heaven belonging to childlike people?

  Children are so believing…that’s part of their charm. They’ll believe almost anything you tell them. Believe it with all their hearts. I’ve been guilty in years past of the old “mixing butter and salt makes heat” story, and kids (and teenagers and adults) will usually just fall for the story….until the finale’.  Jesus is making the point that unless you can come to Him and believe with the same strength and purity of a child, then you have not fully caught on to the whole salvation point. Children don’t need all the theological words and doctrines. They don’t need to know about “conservatives” and “moderates” and all that hooey. They’ll become jaded enough as they grow up. They learn all they need to know by the song, “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” 

  As adults, we have to believe totally, with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength. Let it permeate your whole being. Let it consume you. Fully trusting. Fully believing. Just like a kid and not like the typical cynical “show me” adults of the world. As I always say…Love God. Love and tell others. Simple.  Are you trusting like a child? Or do you hold a wee bit of ‘yourself’ in reserve in case it gets too hard? As we approach Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem and His triumphant entry on Sunday, I pray that I can have that simple faith-belief like a child.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy. Blessed be the Name of the LORD!


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