Seen through a child’s eyes (10-07-20)
Bible Readings: Matthew 18. 2 - 5
Jesus called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
A week or two ago we were able to meet up with our daughter and grandchildren for a distanced picnic in Thetford Forest. We are pleased to report that grandchildren and grandparents managed social distancing well, although I suspect the grandparents found it harder! We followed a nature trail through the woodland and Melody at three and a half enjoyed running ahead to look for the next brown arrow or the next nature board. It was a delight to watch her inquisitive mind at work, taking in her surroundings while collecting a bucket of pine cones. After a while the bucket got too full and heavy, so unembarrassed she gave it to Nana to carry for the rest of the walk!
At one point we got separated from the others, so we were able to have a serious Nana and Melody chat. The conversation began with Coronavirus and why we needed to walk so far apart. Melody had a simple but clear understanding that this was so that we didn’t get poorly. We were then happily reminiscing about last year’s holiday in the caravan and discussing whether she might be able to come with us again this year, when out of the blue, she asked: “Nana, have you got a pineapple?” She knew and I knew that she meant ‘on top of my fridge’, which is where I had one last time she came! What did that have to do with the caravan holiday? “Yes,” I replied “and two melons.” Quite satisfied, the conversation then continued with several more apparently equally random subjects. This was a wonderful example of childhood simplicity and honesty and complete lack of self-consciousness.
Jesus told us that we need to be like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. The problem is, we complicate things as we get older. We worry about things we have no control over; we debate questions that can’t be answered; we get caught up in the whys and wherefores; and we get distracted by the unimportant. And yet, the central message of the Gospel is so simple that a child can understand it.
Karl Barth, one of the 20th century’s most distinguished theologians and writers, was asked once if he could sum up his life’s work. He thought for a moment and then said: “Jesus loves me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Enough said.
Lord Jesus, may we come to you with the simplicity and honesty of a child, knowing that you love us unconditionally. Amen.