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When things in life are different

Jesus approach to children with different.

Many things in our lives are different than they were five months ago. Pastor Devin Smith looks at what Matthew’s gospel teaches about children and suggests that different can be a good and holy thing.

Extraordinary Connection

(See video below. This is a transcript)

My name is Pastor Devin Smith, and I am so glad you can join me to spend a few minutes in God’s Word.

I find myself filming in a different place than my normal today. I am currently sitting in my children’s playroom. You can see some of their items on the shelves behind me here, and elsewhere in the room is a baby crib and their kitchen and all the food my children regularly prepare for me.

And I am here precisely because this week I have been thinking about all the things that are different in my life, my family’s life, and the life of the Church right now. The things that are different in my life are easy to see. It has been a little over six weeks since I moved here to Romeo, Michigan. And while we are continuing to work on settling in, looking around, there are any number of different things, including this room. As much as we tried to re-create the space that the kids were used to, it still has some differences and things that are different.

As we look at the world around us, there are differences everywhere that have come to be over the past five months; in restaurants and stores and any other public space, there are differences. There are screens and dividers in place, tables, and chairs separated to keep people safe. Things look very different.

The life of our church looks different, too, doesn’t it? Some may be back into the church building for worship. Others are not yet. But whether we are worshiping in the building, on the lawn, or online, our services and times of worship look different, I’m sure. We have found ourselves spacing out, maybe eliminating or changing some of those things in worship that we cannot safely do right now. We have seen other changes in ministry as well. VBS, Bible studies, potlucks, and community meals have all had to change or be canceled outright.

It was as I was thinking of all these changes that have taken place that I found myself reading a Bible Story to my kids before bed the other night. It was as we were spending those few minutes before bed that I realized that as much as some things change, some remain the same. That time before bed with the kids is something I look forward to each night, and it is something we did in our last house. It is something we continue to do now. It is something we will continue to do wherever we find ourselves in the future.

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Ironically, the story we were reading the other night is a familiar one, but I wanted to share it with you today. I have enlisted a little help from my son, so I will let him read this Scripture to us.

Boy reading Matthew 19:13-15 … 13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

I love these few short verses of Scripture because they can speak to us in a few different ways. To my son and children throughout the generations, they speak a very important truth, that they are important to Jesus, too. When they hear that Jesus told his disciples not to prevent kids from coming to him and that heaven belongs to people like them, it is a wonderful lesson that Jesus truly valued people of all ages. Jesus loved little children like them and prayed for and cared for children like them. That’s a beautiful lesson and reminds children that church isn’t just for adults, but everyone.

The other lesson I love in this Scripture is the one the disciples learned. You see, they thought they were doing the right thing. They thought they were following the expected rules; children had a place and a purpose of course, but it was not to bother the religious teachers, especially as they were in the middle of teaching the crowds. And that’s what Jesus had been doing precisely.

But as these children were brought to Jesus and presented to him, he took the time to interact with them, to pray for them, and to place his hands on them and bless them. This was a new and different way of doing things! It was not the expected norm of the day!

I wonder for us today, what are some new and different ways of doing things? What unexpected or not ordinary ways of doing ministry might we try since, as we know, there is a whole lot of different happening all around us right now?

Can we listen to Jesus’ teaching and hear those words for our lives and our churches, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Remember that God has already claimed all of us as God’s children. So, are our actions, our words, our ways of doing things hindering any of those children from finding their way to God?

This is not a blanket statement that we need to throw out and get rid of all the old ways, not at all. Many ministries have served the purpose of welcoming God’s children. But, what new ways of welcoming and accepting God’s children do we need to consider? As we continue to celebrate our Extraordinary Connection, I pray that we can continue to learn and grow the Kingdom together.

Take care, my friends, stay safe, and God Bless.

~ Pastor Devin Smith was appointed to Romeo United Methodist Church July 1, 2020. His blog was first shared on Extraordinary Connection, a collaboration of clergy serving churches throughout the United Methodist Connection in Michigan. Extraordinary Connection began in the spring of 2020 with a simple premise; many people from our churches are looking for ways to receive daily encouragement and be immersed in God’s word during these most unusual times we currently find ourselves in.