Forbid Not the Children
‘Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not’ – Luke 18:16-17 (KJV)
Did you know that honeybees sleep in the petals of Dahlias? Have you ever noticed how soft a petal of a Dahlia is? For the honeybee, there is a silky bottom sheet and a silky top sheet.
If I were a little kid, I’d love this idea of fitting inside a flower, just like a bee does. My granddaughter calls it, “Let’s get cozy.”
I don’t fit cozily into the role of giving children’s sermons. There are so many variables of age and temperament, not to mention the fact that parishioners often like children’s sermons better than the adult sermon.
Since children’s sermons aren’t a bed of Dahlia petals to me, I try to get out of the way. Sometimes I use a fabulous children’s Bible like The Biggest Story Bible Storybook or read parts of a really good children’s book like Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. (Sylvester turns into a rock and seems to be locked in forever, until his parents happen to picnic on the rock. They speak of their love for him, and he is freed by the love.)
Sometimes I invite someone else to do it—people in the church who are gifted with children, who create sacred cozy space through children’s sermons and education and recreation and relationship. Why would I get in the way of that?
Follow Jesus: Forbid not the children, and do not be a rock that locks them in.
Grace us all with talents, O God, and let’s free children by our love. Amen.
Donna Schaper works nationally for Bricks and Mortals, a NYC-based organization that provides sustainable solutions for sacred sites. Her newest book is Remove the Pews: Spiritual Possibilities for Sacred Spaces, from The Pilgrim Press.