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. Mark 10:13-14
Memories of Labor Day for our family are filled with trips to the mountains. I remember one particular time several years ago, we traveled through the Smokies enjoying some cooler temperatures and fresh mountain air. We stopped at a very nice little restaurant for breakfast, one of those “mom and pop” hideaways that you run into so often up in the mountains. It had a dining area on the deck out back that was adjacent to a beautiful mountain stream, so naturally we asked to be seated outside.
As I sat there with my family, drinking my coffee and watching all of the hummingbirds, I began to notice that this particular diner was obviously owned and operated by good Christian folk. The coffee mug was tattooed with the words; “This is the day that the Lord has made.” The staff wore t-shirts with Bible verses printed on them, and the kids menu was a coloring picture of Jesus welcoming children. The picture’s caption read, “Jesus loves the little children.” That is when the Lutheran in me, (you know, Law and Gospel; grace, forgiveness) wanted to come out to play.
In this peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, one couldn’t help notice the hammer of the Law swinging down on the heads of those children that Jesus loves so much. Everywhere you looked there were signs such as “Parents, don’t let children play with the merchandise.” “Children are not to lean on the rail (out on the deck).” And my personal favorite, “Children are not to color on the tables.” The best part about that last one is that even though they had a great picture for coloring, the kids weren’t given crayons.
Sometimes it seems that Jesus loves the little children, as long as they are seen and not heard, do what they are told, and don’t make too much noise. Ok, I’m being a little sarcastic, but like I said, the Lutheran in me couldn’t help it. I wanted to give my girls a pen and tell them “Go ahead, sin boldly!”
Now to be fair, let me say that the service in this little hide away was great. The food was wonderful and we all enjoyed our breakfast by the stream. The owners have a wonderful restaurant and the staff did a fantastic job making sure our visit was very pleasurable. I even bought one of their coffee mugs.
Jesus loves the little children, so does this pastor. When children are present at worship they remind us that God’s blessings continue generation after generation. When they make their presence known during our worship (you know what I mean) we should rejoice that they are with us. Jesus loves the little children and wants them in worship with God’s people. And when we allow them to be the little children that they are they will show us just why Jesus feels this way about them. Perhaps as we learn to rejoice when children make their presence known, we will learn from them what it means to be children of God. Rejoice that they are with us. As they grow older teach them how to be respectful while they are being adorable. After all, isn’t that what Jesus teaches us?
Photo – My first baptism as a pastor