Tumbling in the Sand
“Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” – Mark 9:36-37
On a couple of forums that I belong to on Facebook, I have seen the question asked: “What would church look like if only elementary school kids attended?” (clearly, I belong to some very church-focused forums) Besides the snarky comments of “About the same, just smaller bodies…” or “Our Lord of the Flies Lutheran Church” there were lots of fun comments like: “Glitter galore!” “broken crayons on the floor and scribbles in the hymnals!” “There’d be recess…,” “Balloons. Tons of balloons.” “The snacks would be awesome.” and “We’d throw balls inside.”
All these comments are totally worth thinking about, but a few really made me stop and think. They were: “We could run up to the altar to receive the Lord!” “We’d have to apologize to each other when we were mean.” “Laughter and play would be a must!” “It would be more like heaven (at least according to Jesus).”
And then I thought a couple comments were really quite telling: “I’m thinking wonderful.” “Awesome Ness” “Sign me up!” and “I think I’d like to attend that church.”
Maybe church can’t be populated entirely by elementary school kids (and maybe it shouldn’t be either, because well, I think there is something to be said for the presence and welcome of everyone, no matter the age), but I kind of wonder if we were more welcoming to children—and all that they love—and welcoming to the leadership of children, if maybe we’d be more welcoming to everyone. Even ourselves. Even our God.
And maybe the way that we are more welcoming is to reclaim a little bit of that child-like-ness in ourselves. I sometimes think that all our adult-ness is not much fun and that we don’t even enjoy it all that much. But, for some reason we feel like we have to be the all-in-charge, got-it-together, serious adult. I wonder if it’s because we want to be seen as competent and successful and powerful. I wonder if it’s because we want to be seen as “the best,” “the one on top,” “the winner.” I also wonder if we do it because we get the impression that everyone else has it all together and so we’d better fake it ’til we make it … or at least so that we fit in. And so we kind of stifle the child-like tendencies we actually most enjoy and that are most life giving: you know, like curiosity and being daring (the corollary of which is making mistakes); being overwhelmed with awe; relaxing, trusting, and not being in charge; playing; taking breaks; saying sorry; admitting to being afraid; honesty; getting hugs; believing in mystery … and so much more.
You know, I wonder what would happen if we let ourselves do that stuff. I wonder what would happen if we welcomed that little child and let it be embraced by Jesus. I wonder if we might find that we are the children finally being welcomed and that no one else need be excluded either.
Featured Image: Photo taken by Elena Devyashina (http://www.flickr.com/people/shelma/) See her beautiful photography at her Flickr page. Permission to use the photo has been requested.