Scripture: Remember this! Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it. (Luke 18:17)
Meditation: Children are an important part of our journey to Christmas. The excitement of little ones as they restlessly prepare for bed on Christmas Eve and their sparkling eyes and shrieks of joy as they crawl under the Christmas tree to retrieve that much -wanted toy are the things that often define our Christmas memories.
As we travel through the scriptures, we regularly encounter Jesus ministering to children, or sharing parables which help us see the Kingdom through the eyes of a child.
Thirty-five years ago, the city of Phoenix was making its first effort to address the growing problem of homelessness in the downtown. After purchasing a building to renovate into a shelter, the city began to clear an area for an “outdoor shelter.” This facility was intended to be an alternative to the city park until the shelter renovations were completed.
Each Saturday as the site was being cleared and prepared, I took our six-year-old daughter to watch the bulldozers at work, the sod being laid, the metal sun shields being built, and the picnic tables constructed. On every visit we talked about what it must be like to be homeless. Lindsey would ask the simple questions of a child, “Where do they eat? Do they go to the store? Are homeless people mean? Where do they go to the bathroom?”
On the Saturday before the outdoor shelter was to open, we visited the site and watched as the palm trees were put in place. I waxed eloquent about how in a few days the homeless people we had seen on the street would have a place to stay.
But little daughter sat uncharacteristically quiet, pondering some deep thought. Finally, she broke the silence with these words, “But Daddy, they still don’t have houses!”
I sat there sufficiently chastised. Along with my colleagues, I had allowed the pragmatic and politically feasible to substitute for the justice demanded by the gospel.
Like so many times in the scriptures, I saw the world differently because a child had simplified the issue. Even at six years old our daughter knew what a home was. It was a place that families lived, where there were bedrooms, and fireplaces, and laps to sit on. This park was not a home and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to accept it as a substitute.
Through the miracle of Christmas, we are invited to see God’s plan for our lives and our world. We must not settle for the world’s response to those who are suffering. As John Howard Yoder writes, “The church is called to be now what the world is called to be ultimately.” It is the church’s job to embody the hope of Christ and share it with the world.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the gift of the Christ child, and the gift of children. Help us to untangle and simplify our perspectives so that we may see as children.
For additional information about our Advent devotions and their authors, click here.