Monday, December 20
All my work, whether paid or voluntary, has been with children. Those children have ranged from two months to eighteen years old, and have included gifted students and students with special needs. My first job at sixteen was to substitute for Connie Smith's assistant teacher in her pre-kindergarten classroom at Country Day. Here I am, forty-four years later, still working with children.
Children fascinate me. It does not matter how long I have worked with them, they still intrigue and amaze me.
Thinking about the theme for this year's Advent booklet, "When God Is a Child," I started trying to wrap my mind around the concept of God as a child. I began thinking about how Jesus came to us as an infant so that we could know God, and how he grew and developed like most of the children in his time.
As I thought about Jesus, child and adult, human and holy, I remembered a passage from a devotional on the gospel of Luke. William Barclay, the author, made some very poignant observations about children and continued these observations by describing the qualities of children. I believe these qualities are universal based on what I have experienced in my years of teaching.
First, children never lose their sense of wonder. I am reminded of this daily as I watch my high school students interact with the four-year-olds. I am not so surprised at this sense of wonder in the four-year-olds, but I am always stunned when my teenagers exhibit the same. The high school students still love to color and paint, and they delight when the four-year-olds learn something new or say something simple yet profound.
Second, most children are naturally obedient. They are always so proud when they are successful at what a parent has asked them to do. I see this with young children, teens, and young adults. Jesus was obedient to his earthly parents, even as he was "obedient unto death" to his Heavenly Father. Even with free will, he chose to take away our sins and give us a new beginning. Praise be to God for his child, Jesus.
Third, children have an amazing ability to forgive. I have seen students who have been abused by a parent beg not to be taken from that abusive parent. I have seen students forgive me for mistakes I have made, and I have seen them forgive each other for very hurtful words or actions. Jesus forgave us for our sins and died for them. No more can be asked of one who has lived as human.
As I think about these characteristics of children, I wish it were possible for those of us who profess to be followers of Jesus to keep alive this sense of wonder relating to our faith, to live in unquestioning trust with God, and to forgive unconditionally. That is the childlike spirit, and is our passport to the kingdom of God. During Advent, it is my hope and prayer that all of us experience this time of anticipation like a child, with a sense of wonder and delight.
- Barbara Creaser
Dear Lord, I feel like as young children we have a strong love for you, a love that is like a fire. It begins in our hearts and glows through us. It can be seen in a child's smile or through the look in a child's eyes. The faces of children glow with this happiness because their love for you flows throughout their whole being.
As children grow older, it often seems like this glow begins to fade. Teenagers do not always have the same fire burning for Jesus that they had as children. It might be there in our hearts, but it doesn't always register on the outside because we are living in fear. We are afraid of being judged or not being accepted because we are Christians, which is not always the "coolest" thing for teenagers. Lord, help us to get over this fear.
Help us to love you like we did as young children. Help us to remember that, through you, anything is possible. Help us to allow our fire to burn through us. Help us to have a burning love for you so strong that others can see it glowing through us in our smiles and in our actions. Amen.
- Rebecca Sutton