Summary: Communion Meditation for June 1, 2008 and Kids and Teens Celebration Day
About four years ago a group of people here in Noble County decided that there needed to be an event for kids to learn about important things like government, the arts, and community. As a result, they created Kid City and it will be held again this year at our county fairground on Saturday, August 2.
It has grown in attendance each year and I believe that it is a very important event in our county. (And by the way, our bell choir has been requested to perform this year. As the time gets closer, you will hear more about this.)
Then about six or seven years ago, a campaign that you have read about in the paper, ‘Is It Good for the Children?’ was started. It has ‘graded’ various dimensions of our quality of life for kids here in Noble County.
That ‘report card’ has created much discussion that I believe has been good for us because our children count. We need to ask ourselves as we make decisions at home, in the workplace, in the community, at school, and in the church, is what we are about to consider ‘good for the children?’
This morning, we are going to honor our kids and teens for their hard work and we are going to have communion in a few moments.
Our text for this morning is a good text for today, it is Matthew 18:2-6.
(Slide 2) ‘Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Slide 3) And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.’
Jesus is responding to a question, asked by the disciples, which appears in verse 1, “Which of us is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” His answer is important because it highlights two important things; a humble faith and the importance of children.
Jesus makes it clear that a childlike humbleness is essential for ‘greatness in God’s kingdom.’ Louis Pasteur wrote, ‘When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become.’ Bill Vaughn wrote, ‘A three-year-old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.’
The simple-ness of children is a marvelous thing. A simple faith is a marvelous thing. The disciples were way beyond simple-ness. They were all about competition (which is a subject, as it relates to family life that needs to be addressed).
‘How am I doing Jesus?’ ‘Who is the best of us Jesus?’ ‘Who do you like more, Jesus?’
(Sounds like children, don’t they?!)
Among the disciplines of the Christian faith that have been practice, written about, and encouraged over the centuries is the discipline or practice of simplicity. What is that?
(Slide 4) Here are some single word definitions of simplicity: Ease, effortlessness,
plainness, and unfussiness. Simplicity is the opposite busyness and a mate to simple-ness.
It is a quietness that comes into the center of our souls and lives and it comes as we ‘center’ ourselves in God and allow Him to truly live in the center of our lives. Richard Foster has written that in experiencing simplicity ‘speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone, because we no longer need status and position. We cease from showy extravagance, not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle.’
Jesus strips position of its power and prestige, and taking a representative from a group of people that were very much demeaned and looked down up on, children, speaks of the simplicity and humility as keys to being ‘the greatest’ in the kingdom of Heaven. It is the opposite of what the disciples were expecting. (They also seem not to learn the lesson very well or at all, because in the next chapter, Matthew 19, they attempt to shoo away some children and their parents who had come to have Jesus bless their kids.)
This humility and simple-ness is also tied, early on, to Jesus statement about forgiveness and repentance. Forgiveness and repentance crate humility in us, we become grateful for the forgiveness of God in us hearts and souls. Children seem to do a much better job than us about being humble and repentant when they need to be. We need to learn and re-learn from them.