Column: Let the little children come to me

Dan Peterson

They get on the bus or walk to school. They do homework and housework. They giggle and laugh. They pout and cry. They are nice but can also be mean. They can be quiet and also noisy. Children are a gift from God. The Psalmist says: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

Children were being brought to Jesus so that He might lay hands on them and bless them. The disciples weren’t too keen on the idea. So Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

Cute and cuddly babies are a joy to cherish. However, they soon grow and become little children with a will of their own. It is that will that at times challenges the parent’s patience and stamina. We always like it when they “obey” but when they disobey, it become a different matter. Each child is to be loved and cared for, which is what we strive to do with the help of God. We do not live in a perfect world, so loving children becomes a messy business. Parents separate and divorce and no longer live together to tend to the child’s need. Sometimes parents argue too much and fill the house with tension. Sometimes parents abuse the child both verbally and/or physically, doing emotional and psychological harm. We need to be reminded that children are a reward, and we should all look to them as an opportunity to love them. According to authors Gary Smalley and John Trent, PhD., in their book: The Blessing – there are five major elements of the family blessing. These five family blessings include: meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching of “high value” to the one being blessed, picturing a special future for the one blessed and an active commitment to fulfill the blessing.

The fall season is upon us, and besides children going off to school, they are also coming to Sunday school, communion class, and to worship services. We say they are coming to “church.” Whether you are a parent, grand-parent, a deacon or custodian, a band member or the one who gets the coffee, look for the little ones. Look for ways to bless them. You don’t have to be a Sunday school teacher in order to touch children’s lives. There are multiple ways to convey God’s love to them. Your blessing may come in the form of a smile, a soft touch. It may come with a kind word of encouragement. It may be in the form of a gift.

One man in our church often brings in polished stones and then when the children come up to him, he either has them guess which hand the stones are in or have them reach into his pockets. The kids love the attention and fun play!

Once a month I or someone else shares a children’s message during the worship service time. The children gather round with anticipation of getting closer to Jesus and receiving a blessing.

Jesus was right; let the children come to Him. Let us not hinder them, but instead bless them with God’s love and grace.

Dan Peterson is the pastor of St. Lucas Community Church in Lake Elmo.