Thinking SPACE

Dear Friends,

‘Let the Children Come’:

It’s been a delight and privilege over many years and in a good number of churches where I’ve belonged, to share in the nurture of children in the Christian faith.  Although we would recognise our responsibility in Christ to share the Good News with every new generation, I never cease to be amazed at what I learn from the children themselves.

For instance, a toddler was brought to one church by their single parent mother, and soon gained a reputation of being extremely disruptive. Incredibly, many members wanted us to say to the mother: ‘if you can’t control him, then you’ll need to find somewhere else’.  Junior Church leaders thankfully refused as the mother needed our support and so we insisted they show a little more grace.  After about nearly two years, he began to settle, and then we discovered that he’d been listening, knew his stuff, and asked some really deep questions – challenging many a minister or worship leader in the process.  In the end we learnt a lot through him.

Another child was attending the Uniformed Organisation.  There had been an attempt to persuade her and others to come to Junior Church, but without success.  Yet she did come to an Ecumenical Service where the Bishop was present.  She was intrigued by his cassock with its many red buttons.  Without hesitation she approached him afterwards and engaged in a conversation as he explained the significance of his clerical outfit.  As we were leaving, she wept because she wanted it to continue (how many times have you wept at the end of a service and pleaded that it continues?!).  The following Sunday she presented herself at Junior Church, and began to encourage friends and neighbours to attend.  She became one of our greatest evangelists!

Then just last week in Messy Church a two year old child was making a model of Jesus and John the Baptist with her older sister using card and material.  When she’d finished, she exclaimed: ‘Look, Jesus looks just like me!’

I’m sure you can imagine there are so many more incidents that can be recounted.  Yes, we have a duty and responsibility to nurture our children, but, in doing so, we discover that we can learn so much from them about the Kingdom of God.  No wonder Jesus said: ‘Let the children come to Me, for, of such, is the Kingdom of God’ (Luke 18: 16).

That reminds me of that well-known Methodist hymn by W. M. Hutchings: ‘Mothers of Salem’, so here is your ‘ear worm’ for the week:

When mothers of Salem their children brought to Jesus, the stern disciples drove them back and bade them depart.  But Jesus saw them ere they fled, and sweetly smiled, and kindly said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me’.

‘For I will receive them and fold them in My bosom; I’ll be a shepherd to these lambs, O drive them not away.  For, if their hearts to Me they give, they shall with Me in glory live: Suffer little children to come unto Me’.

How kind was our Saviour to bid these children welcome!  But there are many thousands who have never heard His Name.  The Bible they have never read; they know not that the Saviour said, ‘Suffer little children to come unto Me’.

God Bless,   Jayne Wood  (Norristhorpe)

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