April 15, 2018: Bless the Children

Pastor Steve Mechem

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1 John 3:1-2 New Revised Standard Version
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Children are amazing. And sometimes maddening. You gotta love ‘em.

All children are precious. But you’re own kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews- they are especially precious. The world, from your perspective, revolves around them. They are the best, the most talented, the brightest, the most creative … even if they aren’t, they are to you.

Kids create joy in the lives of those around them. I have sat in huts and lean to’s with families in extreme poverty and witnessed moms and dads gleaming with joy as they hold a new born child in their arms. All I can think is … one more mouth to feed, one more burden to carry, one more obstacle to overcome. But that mom, that dad, holding a little bundle of life, seem impervious to the hardships ahead. They are truly excited and full of joy.

I think they are full of joy because children bring hope- a present with meaning, a future extended, order in a disordered world.

Kids… you gotta love ‘em

Kids are passionate. Listen to a child try to convince their parent that he or she wants something in the grocery store. Their passion is out of control. It is deep, it is heartfelt, sometimes it is quite loud.

Then again, kids can be sullen and pouty and lethargic. And you love them, will all your heart.

Kids are silly. They are funny. kids make us laugh. Their laughter is contagious. We are never quite sure what they may say or do next. One person said that kids say the darnedest things.

Kids are inquisitive. They are like sponges, soaking up the world around them.

They love to ask questions. From the time my children could talk, they asked. Why is the sky blue? Why is pizza round? How big is God? Why are vegetables good for you?

Kids’ inquisitiveness can go beyond questions. They can be downright nosy.

And they can spend forever studying a worm on the sidewalk, just trying to figure out how it wiggles.

And yet, kids can be knuckly-headed. It can seem as if they don’t hear or understand or learn anything sometimes. You can tell them the same thing over and over without any seeming result.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be fearless. And sometimes, that fearlessness becomes recklessness. And that recklessness can be scary- with trips to the emergency room for stitches and X-rays and casts.

And at the same time, these fearless kids can be easily frightened- the dark, lightning storms, when a giraffe sticks its head in your car window.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be incredibly honest- to the point of being rude.

I ask this question of anyone who has had children come up for a children’s sermon. Have you ever held your breath and prayed that they would not say something that might embarrass you or your family?

I could not tell you the number of times kids have called me fat or made fun of my belly, much to their parents’ absolute embarrassment. They usually aren't being mean; they’re just being honest.

And yet kids can also be incredible story tellers. And sneaky. Some of us can relate to Peggy Ann McKay with her tales of woe from the poem earlier. Perhaps your adult child has told you about some of the whoppers that were told to you long ago and which, of course, you believed because you always believe your child.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be moldable, and rigid, and impetuous, and cautious.

Kids can be messy. Have you ever had to clean up the kitchen after your children surprised you by making a meal? Oh my! How did syrup get on the ceiling?

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids can be selfish. The word “mine” is learned soon after “mom” and “dad.” And yet, kids can be amazingly altruistic, giving freely of themselves, from cutting off hair to donate for wigs for sick children, to giving away toys and clothes for the poor, to convincing you the stray puppy needs a good home.

Kids can be gullible.

Kids can be stubborn. Try to get a child to eat peas if he or she doesn’t want to.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids dream big dreams. They see themselves as professional athletes or superheroes. It is to their detriment that as a culture, we are too quick to clip their wings.

Kids sparkle.

Kids cuddle.

Kids are clumsy.

Kids are creative. Perhaps your refrigerator is covered with creativity involving paints and macaroni and crayons.

Kids can be cranky. Kids can be whiny.

And you love them, with all your heart.

Kids teach us, about life, and faith, and trust and love. Perhaps this is why Jesus instructs us that we have to become like children to experience the Kingdom of God.

Gerry Spence says, “Children should become the role-models for us for they are coated with the spirit from which they came - out of the ether, clean, innocent, brimming with the delight of life, aware of the beauty of the simplest thing.

Not only do they teach us, but Kids are also watching us.
They learn fairness, kindness, respect from us.
We also teach them about prejudice, and homophobia, disrespect, selfishness, misogyny, and hate.
Often, it is not with our words we teach, but with our actions and our responses to life.
The Kids are watching us.

Kids love unconditionally. It is natural for children to accept and graciously respond. It is natural for children to forgive when wronged and desire relationship. They are taught as they grow to become suspect, to be alienated.

Kids are full of potential. When we look at a small child, we have idea as to who or want they may become. We may put them in an expectational box, but they often break through it.

We began this morning’s worship with a Shel Silverstein poem, I share another one with you now (its my favorite):

One picture puzzle piece
Lyin' on the sidewalk,
One picture puzzle piece
Soakin' in the rain.

It might be a button of blue
On the coat of the woman
Who lived in a shoe.

It might be a magical bean,
Or a fold in the red
Velvet robe of a queen.

It might be the one little bite
Of the apple her stepmother
Gave to Snow White.

It might be the veil of a bride
Or a bottle with some evil genie inside.

It might be a small tuft of hair
On the big bouncy belly
Of Bobo the Bear.

It might be a bit of the cloak
Of the Witch of the West
As she melted to smoke.

It might be a shadowy trace
Of a tear that runs down an angel's face.

Nothing has more possibilities
Than one old wet picture puzzle piece.

Well the only thing that has more possibility than an old wet picture puzzle piece is a real life child.

John, a great friend of Jesus, wrote the following,

“Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially God’s children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.”

From today’s choir anthem:
“And there is nothing, or no one
Who can separate, they can’t separate you
From the truth that you’re someone.
You are family, you are meant to be,
A child of God!”

You my friend are a child of God. You my friend, are loved by God- totally and completely.
In all your wonderfulness, God loves you.
With all your blemishes, God loves you

God calls you “child.” Embrace it. Celebrate it. Become it.

Amen.