In the 19th chapter of Matthew, there is a penetrating scene. Jesus had been engaged in a debate on family values, when all of a sudden some parents showed up with their children in the hope that Jesus might pray for them and bless them. The Disciples, thinking that Jesus was too busy, began to turn the children away. However, when Jesus saw it, He responded, “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Then we’re told that before He left He took the time to lay His hands on them and bless them. (Vs. 13 –15)
Children matter to Jesus and they matter to the Church. This Sunday, we are celebrating Children’s Sabbath. What is Children’s Sabbath? The Children’s Sabbath got its start from the Children’s Defense Fund. It is a time to reflect on God’s gift of children and the ways we, as a congregation and as individuals, can act to care for, protect and advocate for children.
Often there is a tendency to think of childhood as a carefree time, full of happiness and joy. Many of us whose children have long since entered into adulthood may think back on our own childhoods and nostalgically remember times free from responsibility, spent with family and friends and full of fun. However, the reality today is that many children suffer, worry and have needs that are often overlooked. The Children’s Sabbath invites us to set aside some time to think about how we can make a difference.
For example, one of the ways we can make a difference here at DUMC is to volunteer for Children’s Ministries at special events like the Holiday Festival or the Christmas Concert. Think of it this way, when a parent volunteers for Children’s Ministries at special events, their time is split. Part of their time is spent trying to help run the ministry, and part of their time is spent trying to help their own children navigate the activity. When those of us who do not have young children volunteer, the children can receive our full attention. Try to think back to what it meant to you to get an adult’s full attention. Think what it would mean to the children today.
As a way of calling attention to the needs of children, we have invited the children of this church to participate in various aspects of the worship service this Sunday. We have invited them to serve as ushers and greeters, in addition to reading Scripture, leading in prayer and other important roles. As you encounter these young people, I hope you will take the time to encourage them and let them know you are behind them.
See you Sunday, if not before!
Rev. Dan Brown
PS: On whole different note, I want to thank all of those who have volunteered to participate in this year’s Great Day of Service. You are making a difference!