A Child’s-Eye View

Cathryn Vitek   -  

A Child’s-Eye View

That was the Best Tuesday EVER!

I got to have dinner with my oldest daughter, two of her dearest friends, and their daughters, whom I have dubbed my grandfriends. Just shy of four months, these two cuddle-bunnies are at that amazing stage where they are awakening to the wonder of the world around them…

and they want you to know.

I’ve not done the research to know whether it is instinctive or learned (or neither), but a baby’s inclination to engage with me in back-and-forth conversation always fills my heart with joy. I could continue those conversations for hours even though I haven’t the foggiest idea what it is we are talking about.

It’s their wide-eyed, full-hearted trust that I am a loving listener that makes my heart sing.

Yes, sweet grandfriends, I am here for you.

The Gospels give us this beautiful interaction between the disciples, Jesus and children. Here is Luke’s version:

“One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” (Luke 18:15-16).

Did you catch that last sentence?

“The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

Jesus said children have something to teach us about God’s Kingdom.

I think it may be tied to their wide-eyed, full-hearted trust that Jesus is a loving listener who is with them and for them always. Perhaps it is that they remind us that it makes God’s heart sing when we trust him with the things that are stirring inside of us.

I love that Jesus said children lead the way for us grown-up children of God.

A kid-expert and theologian named Jerome Berryman would say that Jesus has a “high view” of children…“the high view ‘is respectful to, moves toward, and is open to learning from children.’”* In other words, kids can know more than we think they can know and they can teach us things we wouldn’t know unless we open ourselves to what they know and see. Kids are amazing theologians.

I think John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, felt that same way!

You may have noticed that children are welcome to receive Holy Communion at Bethany.  We practice what is called an “open table,” which means that everyone is welcome. Everyone. It’s a very John Wesley/Wesleyan/Methodist thing to do.

Most other Christian expressions of faith limit participation at the Lord’s Table to those who are baptized, confirmed, members of that particular denomination or otherwise prepared to receive, as in the Roman Catholic preparation for First Communion. It is, after all, important to have at least some basic understanding about what this ritual means.

But John Wesley believed that the grace God feeds us at His table is not dependent on what we understand about it.

So our kids get to join us at His table!

For Methodists it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy the meal before we understand it, but the understanding part is still very important to our spiritual development.

So…

I am excited to let you know that in a few short weeks our 2nd-5th grade Sunday Fun groups will explore what happens when God feeds us at His Table!

If you’d like to explore the topic with us, you are more than welcome…these three things are for sure: it will be fun, we will learn together, and our kids are bound to teach us some really amazing things! I can’t wait!

💚

Pastor Cathy

*Grobbelaar, J., 2020, ‘Doing theology with children: A childist reading of the childhood metaphor in 1 Corinthians and the Synoptic Gospels’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 76 (4), a 5637. https://doi.org/104102/hts.v76i4.5637