8/24/2018 11:13:21 AM
Let the Children Come
The weekdays have been pretty quiet around here the last few months. But, the buzz is back! It started about two weeks ago with school registration. Parents and kids filled up the church entryway on a Tuesday afternoon. You received a welcome letter and school supplies list from your teacher. The older students and their families got some info concerning sports. If needed you purchased a Bible, Hymnal, or Catechism. And you did a smorgasbord of other things too: hot lunch, scrip, God’s Garden. I passed through a few times, and there was a buzz, an excitement around the new school year. It continued this week as our youngest and newest students had 4K and 3K orientation, a chance for them and their parents to see the classroom, meet Mrs. A and begin to acclimate to everything new. Between questions from parents and the squeaky voices of the preschoolers, there was a buzz. And today, I’d say, it’s reached its peak. You brought your backpacks filled with school supplies, found your new classroom, and greeted the familiar faces. It’s all very real. School starts Monday. The buzz is back!
Can you imagine the buzz, the commotion and excitement, among the group of parents who were bringing their children to Jesus? As they hurried along, they didn’t share stories of Summer vacation but of the miracles they had heard about. They discussed Jesus’ teaching and how he claimed to have come from heaven. Perhaps one of them boldly stated, “I believe he really is the Messiah.” However they saw him, they knew the importance of bringing their children to Jesus. They wanted Jesus to bless their little ones. They wanted Jesus to pray for them.
That day, the disciples were the buzzkill of all buzzkills. How quickly the parents’ cheer and excitement must have been replaced by disappointment and hurt. The disciples rebuked them. The disciples tried to turn them away. “No, you and your children can’t see Jesus. He doesn’t have time for children.” I believe their intentions were good. The disciples probably thought they were doing Jesus a favor. “Jesus didn’t have time for little children,” they thought. “There were more important matters, more important people, for him to attend to.”
Before the parents and children started walking away, Jesus stepped in and spoke up. “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them.” Jesus set his disciples straight. He said, “No. Bring the children to me. Let them come. This is important work. They are just as important to me as anything or anyone else.” He put his hands on them. He blessed them. He loved them.
I don’t think we’re surprised by Jesus words and actions here. We know this story well. We have all seen pictures of Jesus and the children. Perhaps we have them hanging in our homes or a child’s bedroom. This picture hung in my bedroom growing up and now it’s in my church office. Yes, Jesus welcomed them. Yes, Jesus blessed them.
But, why?! Didn’t the disciples kind of have a point? Why take the time? Why welcome children? Why bless them? Didn’t he have more important work? Sick to heal? Dead to raise? Good news to share with the confused? Time in prayer with his Heavenly Father? -- Children are precious to Jesus. Children are important and worth the time to Jesus. He wants them in heaven. He wants them to be safe for eternity. These are souls for whom Jesus, the Savior, lived and died. That’s why! So yes, Jesus invites children to come to him, and he invites you, parents, and us, the faculty and staff of Immanuel, to bring children to him. Under this school year’s theme, Let the children come, we have the opportunity to highlight such an invitation and Jesus’ love for children. We rejoice and celebrate that we have a Savior who welcomes children, who loves them and treasures them.
Two weeks ago as I passed through the church entryway during registration. Last night as I heard the little 3K students and their parents come in for orientation. Earlier this evening as I watched all of you go into school and then come into church, yes, I recognized that the buzz was back, but I also paused. I paused and thanked God for you and your families. I thanked God for the faculty and staff of Immanuel. I thanked God for what you are doing. Like those parents 2,000 years ago in the small Galilean town of Capernaum, you know the importance of bringing your children to Jesus. You continue to listen and respond to Jesus’ invitation. You did it when you had your children baptized. You do it as you pray for them. You respond to Jesus when you read Bible stories at home and speak of Jesus and his love often. You do it by making worship a priority and bringing them to church every weekend. And not only do you want your children to hear about Jesus and all he has done for them, at home and church, you want them to hear of his love every day at school too. So you send them to a school and entrust them to the care of teachers who also respond to Jesus’ invitation to let the children come. That’s really awesome.
I know Mr. Huebner and the teachers have also been praying and thanking God. They praise and thank God that Immanuel Lutheran School has its highest enrollment ever this year. Not because they love big numbers, but because of what those numbers mean. They mean that parents are listening to Jesus and his invitation.
There’s one more thing in Jesus’ words and invitation that I hope we don’t overlook… This past week I realized I started Kindergarten 25 years ago. I couldn’t help but think back to my 5-year-old self and what that first week of Kindergarten was like. I thought of walking into school with my backpack that was covered with cows and other farm animals. I remember hanging it on my hook in the hallway and taking out my power ranger crayon box. But, I also remember being scared of all the big kids and missing my mom and dad and little sister and little brother. I remember riding the school bus home and how the bus driver wouldn’t drive away until she saw that my mom was home and I was safe. At 5 years old, I was small. I was scared and confused. I was helpless and vulnerable. Children are vulnerable. That’s what I don’t want us to overlook in Jesus’ invitation. When Jesus invites the little children to come to him, he’s making a statement. Jesus is proclaiming that he is the Savior of the helpless and the vulnerable. He’s the Savior of the weak.
Jesus’ invitation isn’t only for little children, it’s for all of us. I may no longer be 5 years old, scared of 7th and 8th graders, or very small, but there are times that I still feel weak and helpless. I think we all do. Whether you are starting kindergarten this year, have a child who is in kindergarten, or are teaching kindergarten, we all need to listen to Jesus, hear his words, heed his invitation, and run to him. This year take every opportunity to come and rest secure in Jesus. He wants to wrap his arms around you. He wants to bless you. He loves you.
May that be the cause of the buzz around school and church this year: the excitement and commotion of parents and children, faculty and staff, running to Jesus. Amen.