Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-14 (NIV)
Over the years, the centre of my ministry has been about connecting with children and young people. In my previous church post I was privileged to be a Chaplain for 4 schools, the Boy’s Brigade and the Guides as well as being Sunday school co-ordinator and stand in Army Padre for the children and families of serving personnel when their Chaplain was deployed with them overseas. Seeing things through the eyes of a child, imagining what it’s like for someone who is dependent on responsible adults is an incredibly humbling and crucial thing for parents and teachers and leaders to continually do.
In these times surrounding the outbreak of Covid-19, while the adults run around trying to organise working from home or outside as key workers, while they try and sort home schooling and childcare, while they change their weekly rhythm to not include grandparents and while they get their own heads around the threat of contagion and illness; the children are watching and absorbing all the time.
Perhaps you have noticed an 7 or 8 year old retrieving a teddy or another “security blanket” they haven’t had around for years or an older child who has begun to watch younger cartoons or play games they called “babyish” a few weeks ago. In confusion and insecurity children regress to the familiar patterns of younger years when they felt safe. With familiar school routines with teachers and friends disrupted, with no clubs and youth organisations, Messy church or Sunday school meeting and with less cuddles and kisses around from Grandparents and Aunties and Uncles, this is a time when we need to watch carefully over the children in our lives: in our homes, in our wider families, in our church communities.
“Watch and pray” Jesus said; today we are thankful for and we remember children everywhere, throughout the world, in our thoughts and prayers.
As we move towards Easter, in a few days on Palm Sunday, here on the website, I will be introducing a special Journey Through Holy Week to take us step by step, day by day from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. This will be an intergenerational journey with ways for all ages to engage with the themes of Holy week that explore the whole human experience that Christ shared with us. I hope that we can read each day knowing that we journey with our wider family and perhaps phone each other and read sections to each other or talk about which bits we liked or that made us think. In that way we will watch out for each other and can nurture the child like part in each of us that needs love and reassurance.
Prayer for today – a child’s prayer