At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-3)
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15)
A couple of weeks ago Rob and I were at the Sunday service at Hannington celebrating Harvest. During the service we had sung the traditional hymns that you might expect at a harvest festival service, namely ‘We plough the fields and scatter’ and ‘Come, ye thankful people come’. At the end of the service the organist played a tune to a slightly less well known hymn. It made me smile to hear it. When we got home I asked Rob if he recognised the tune that was played after the service and I was not surprised when he replied that he did not.
The tune that had been played goes to a song that is often sung in junior schools at this time of year and talks about the joys of the season and how it is important to say thank you for them. In my head I can hear the sound of young voices enthusiastically singing the song and each time I hear it, it makes me smile.
I went to YouTube to see if there was a recording of the song, so that I could share it with Rob, and was delighted when I found a recording that had clearly been done during lockdown by a young vicar (I have included it below as our song today).
Jesus instructed us that we should be more child-like and often that begs the question ‘In what way?’. I would suggest that one of the ways in which we could become more like children is that we could smile more often. There’s no doubt that children smile a lot. Some studies even suggest that children smile as much as 400 times per day, whereas adults only smile around 20 times each day. There are real benefits to smiling and laughing, yet sometimes we feel as if we should not smile in church, that smiling and laughing is only for children.
Now I’m not saying that we should go around with a grin on our faces all the time, but I am suggesting that sometimes we look at the world in the way that a child might do and see the joy in autumn leaves or the shape of clouds in the sky. As one of our more traditional harvest hymns says ‘All good gifts around us, are sent from heaven above, then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord, for all His love.’ Once we learn to see the gifts around us as a child does then hopefully like a child we should learn to smile more too.
Father God, help us to appreciate the simple pleasures in life and may we never forget to say thank you for what we have.