“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.” (Mt. 19:14)
Into the relative silence of waiting for the Sunday morning worship to begin came a wonderful (or awful), charming (or awful), joyful (or awful) procession of 20-30 children, all singing this hymn – loud and clear:
“When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be ... when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” (Eliza Hewitt & Emily Wilson, 1898).
Picture these kids parading in with maracas, tambourines and clappers, smiles on their faces, with joyful worship just pouring from them.
Now picture the faces of the folks in the congregation. Some wonderful (or awful), some utterly charmed (or awful), some joyful (or awful). You get it, I’m sure.
Feedback after the service was much the same. Some loved it – said it was the high spiritual point of their week. And then, there were others. The “seen and not heard” crowd.
I wonder what would happen if we were as excited about Jesus as we are about, say, our favorite sports team? What if we got as excited about Jesus, the eternal good news as we do about a new restaurant with the fabulous food or new movie.
Think about it. Think about the last time you were so excited about something like that, you just had to tell someone. Children are like that. When they get excited about something, they just have to tell everyone around.
So, what happens that makes us think that it’s OK to share our favorite sports team, restaurant, recipe and movie, but not our new and transforming life as disciples of Christ?
Dare I say it? OK, here it is: What makes us so much more excited about these temporary things (yes, they’re all good and exciting) than we are about Jesus and God’s eternal saving grace?
Could it be that we just take God’s grace for granted? Do we take Jesus for granted?
The children who came to Jesus that day did not take Him for granted – they were so excited! God’s Son, the Messiah, was right there – right in front of them! Wow! They came running, and Jesus was waiting, arms outstretched to them, welcoming them — despite the disciples proper expectations of “seen and not heard” children.
The children coming into church that day joyfully singing didn’t take Jesus for granted either. Their voices, their clapping, their joyful parade said it all. They knew Jesus was right there, with them, right then, despite the proper expectations of some folks that they be “seen and not heard.”
How about us? Is Jesus to be “seen and not heard” in our lives? Hear again the words of Jesus: “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”
So how will we, in our own style and with our own gifts, sing and shout the victory?
How will we be like the children Jesus shows us as examples of living grace? They were certainly not in the “seen and not heard” crowd.
Oh, no, the children of God’s kingdom of good news are definitely SEEN and HEARD.