We Are All Children Of God

Imagine for a moment that we have traveled back in time to hear Jesus teaching about life in the new community and about God wanting everyone to live together with respect and love, caring for one another, not taking advantage of each other, but living life in simplicity in pursuit of the kingdom instead of in pursuit of earthly things. And in the crowd, there we are. We are children, not one of us older than perhaps ten. We are there with our parents and we have heard about this Jesus. We want to be touched and blessed. Or prayed over by Jesus to maybe be healed. But to know God's presence in the way that we hear the adults talking about.

Whether it is our desire or our parents having dragged us by the ear, we are there standing in the crowd waiting to see Jesus. But there is one problem. Though we can hear what Jesus is saying, there is this wall of people standing around him, almost encircling him. It is the disciples. Yes, they were learning, but they also at times acted as bodyguards, keeping the crowds from pressing in on Jesus. But we want to get up close to see Jesus and the disciples are blocking us. As a few parents and children make their way through this crowd, Jesus hears his disciples sternly ordering them to get back. And looking at our faces, Jesus tells them, "Let the children come to me, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."

How would those words have affected us as children in the crowd hearing Jesus acknowledge our presence and affirm us as people of God's kingdom? That was a time when children were celebrated and revered in their families, but had more of a servant role growing up than our children today. What a moment that would have been to hear those affirming words from Jesus, "Let them come to me." We would have thought, "Gee, I'm as important as any of these adults…scribes, pharisees, priests, and common-folk…but even though we are just children, Jesus welcomes us forward." What an affirming moment!

I imagine that Jesus may have even asked some of the children what their name was at the time. That is why I had you put your name at the top of the 'little person' sheet that each of you has been handed to draw on. That is you telling your name or affirming your name to God or to Jesus. So here you are. You are in the presence of the Christ and he has called you by name. You are someone…and you are someone important, not only to him, but to God. That's a moment that we should bask in glory of, isn't it?

What is it about us that we recognize that God loves? It is the wholeness of who we are, but do any of us look like this? No. At least I don't see anybody looking like this today. So what we're going to do is draw on this paper the things we feel are gifts that we have been given by God. It doesn't have to just be body parts or clothing. You can write attributes in the side columns, things that God has given to you that make you special. Now, to help with that, think about things that kind adults may have said to you as a child that were affirming. For example, I have heard people say, "Oh, she has beautiful eyes!" Or, "Look at the eyelashes!" Or, "Oh, I'd give anything for that hair!" At those earliest ages, what did other people appreciate that God gave to you that was special or exceptional? Take a moment to draw that in. Or if it's some kind of talent you had, take a moment to write that in the side column, something that differentiated you or made you special in the eyes of others and in the eyes of God. I know it's kind of an abstract thing. We have been working on this in our spiritual direction group in Consistory where we are using the other side of the brain to work on creativity. When I was small, it was long eyelashes. The women in the family just ogled over my eyelashes, which I never understood and was quite embarrassed by.

Now, that's from your childhood. Now let's fast-forward in life a little bit. If you're a child, just keep working on your picture and make it as best as you can to look like you. For the adults, when you met that special someone, what do you think they found attractive about you, whether it be physical appearance, or the kind of person who you were, or something that was special about you that they felt? Think for a moment. If you're stumped, draw your favorite shirt, dress, or pants, or your favorite hairdo. It doesn't have to be the hairdo you have now. Even if you don't have hair now, there might have been a time when you had hair!

Now, take a look at your picture. Have you drawn everything in that makes you feel special? Take a look at yourself. That's a handsome, beautiful person, isn't it? Of course, hopefully you put eyes and things on there too. In my picture, I have a bowl haircut, big eyelashes, and a shirt. If I had time, I'd have put Oscar the Grouch on it because I had an Oscar the Grouch sweatshirt that was my favorite.

Have you drawn enough in that it's starting to look like you? You can continue to work on these during the rest of the service, but before we end this little exercise, I want everyone to write on the page, "Child of God." This is a snapshot of who you are, or who others have said you are, or attributes about yourselves that are blessings from God. But this is you, and you are a child of God, not any different from the children who were standing in the crowds waiting to get close to Jesus to be touched or to have hands laid on them, to be prayed over, to be healed, to be blessed. We are those children. We are beautiful to God. That's why asked you to draw beautiful, happy, or favorite things because we are all God's children and God loves us and thinks that we are beautiful and wonderful. God cares for each one of us and nothing can take away the fact that you are a child of God.

That is our very simple lesson for today stemming from Jesus' words. Let us bask in that glow for a moment and remember that…remember that we're all children of God. God loves us all equally, and God loves us no matter what we look like at any age, and God knows us in the depth of our hearts.

June 28, 2009

Read other Sermons by Pastor Steve