J-P spoke tonight from Matt 18:1-6, focussing our attention on what we can learn from children. During lockdown, many of us have spent longer periods of time with our children than previously, and whilst this has often given us problems to solve – juggling working from home with home schooling, for example – it has also given us the opportunity to survey life from the perspective of a child. Children live life to the full; they are especially able to live in the moment and to enjoy the little things in life, such as learning to cook. For adults, we can find cooking a chore, but making pizzas – making the dough, choosing and chopping the ingredients, adding toppings, watching the pizza cook in the oven and then finally tasting their own creation – was a highlight during that period of lockdown.
Jesus told us that whoever takes the lowly position of a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 18:4) This was especially surprising given the lowly position that children did indeed take in many cultures in the past, but shows us Jesus’s emphasis on the faith, innocence and joy which children so often demonstrate. Often, it’s necessary to get ‘back to basics‘, to dwell in the fundamental truths of the gospel. (John 3:16) We embrace every milestone with our children, taking videos of their first crawling, their first steps, their first words, clapping them and showing our joy in their achievements. In the same way, we need to celebrate with others the milestones in God which we achieve and must savour and celebrate the triumphs of those around us.
We have a sacred responsibility towards our children, as Matt 18:6 makes clear. We are to protect, nurture, train and correct our children, being honest with them when we don’t have answers to their questions and seeking to pursue truth with them. Lockdown has not been a safe or happy experience for many children, and we need to understand that children are like sponges, absorbing the attitudes, values and principles of those around them. They learn from us, so it’s especially important to be good role models for them – but we can learn so much more from them, especially when it comes to faith and trust!