Sunday, October 14, 2018:
Proverbs 22:6, Psalm 131, 1st Corinthians 14:20-25, Matthew 18:1-10:
A little boy came home from Sunday school and told his mother that they had just learned a new song about a boy named Andy. His mother couldn’t understand what he meant until he sang the song. “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me. Andy tells me I am his own…” (1) Who is Andy? Please join in hymn #314: “I Come to the Garden Alone.” All kids in the world are innocent and pure. Do you remember? What was the first song you taught to your young children? 1) Twinkle, twinkle, little star How I wonder what you are. 2) The B I B L E. Yes, that’s the book for me. 3) Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so. (UMH #191) When children are young, there is a lot of great educational opportunities. Child psychologists say that children’s education environments from ages 1 to 5 are the most important. This is because the environment in which the child is born and greeted is full of ‘firsts,’ and yet the ability to filter or screen the environment itself has not yet developed, so the child absorbs and accepts everything as it is. (2) In today’s Gospel lesson (Matthew 18:1-10), the disciples come to Jesus & ask, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” It’s funny because adults are interested in ‘who holds more hegemony.’ It is a question of ‘who can control more in heaven.’ Then Jesus called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around & become like this little child you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. My Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones.” Because, children are the hope of the future. Without children, there is no future for our church. Without young people, we have no hope. In another time, people brought children to Jesus so that he would bless them. (Mark 10:13-16) But, the disciples scolded them. When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” Then he hugged the children and blessed them.
The world is centered on adults, and young children are usually ‘lost in the shuffle.’ Children are consuming because they are not yet productive. However, if they grow up a little longer, they will become the backbone of this society. Jesus said, ‘Do not forbid the young children to come to me.’ Jesus speaks firmly to His disciples. “Do not forbid those who own the kingdom of God to come to me.” Jesus carries a child and prays for him and blesses him. And Jesus says, Children are not nuisances to adults, but are entitled to enter the kingdom of God. He said that if you do not like the kingdom of heaven with your heart, you cannot enter it. Heaven is not a society that excludes weak people like children, but the Lord wants the world to live in and inclusive with them. Our children are full of potential and endless possibilities. We must nurture our children and raise them well. Young children are very curious and responsive, so they receive whatever they experience. Adults must be supporters because young children are physically, mentally, and spiritually, flexible and vulnerable. One mother reports that she and her children were out for a ride when her four-year-old daughter suddenly asked their five-year-old son, “Where do babies come from?” The parents were silent while the little boy thought it over & finally answered. “Babies come from heaven.” This explanation didn’t quite satisfy his sister who then asked, “If babies come from heaven, why do people go to the hospital to get them?” The little boy answered, “Because that’s where they get their skins put on!” (3)
We must realize that the wishes of our present generation belong to innocent and pure children. We must raise the young children with the love of God and provide the best environment for growth by disciplining them with the Word of God. Adults should show an example to young children as the first, the forerunner, rather than to show off their strengths and powers, so the young offspring will follow. For example, do not just open your child’s door without permission. At least knock and get permission to enter the room. Do not look into your children’s backpacks. Do not fight loudly in front of the children. Please refrain from criticizing others. If you need to fight and criticize, couples should get in the car and go to the beach to fight loudly near the sound of the waves. If you meet me and my wife at the beach, let’s just say,’ Hi ‘. We may be left with a deep trauma of sick and sad experiences we experienced when we were young.
For children, the experience of childhood remains in the mind of the child throughout entire life. There is an old Korean saying: Three-year-old habit, continues to eighty. Whether it is a lie or a praise, children will see and follow what they have learned. There was once a crab couple. This crab couple gave birth to a lot of babies, and the couple looked at the baby crabs as they walked side to side. So, the mother crab told the babies, “Hey guys, you have to walk straight like your mother.” Then, she showed them how to walk straight.
Seeing this, Dad crab says, “Honey, if you walk sideways and say ‘Walk straight,’ while walking sideways, will the children be able to walk straight?”
“I show you how I walk straight forward. Guys, watch closely and walk like your father.” And the Dad crab proceeded to walk sideways. Every crab is said to walk sideways now because they were never taught by their mum and dad to actually walk straight. (4)
Train children the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) The famous child psychologist Jean Piaget spent his career studying the way children think. He recalls one story from the early days of his career. Piaget asked a child to tell him how a distant mountain range came to be. The child began telling him this wonderfully imaginative story about a giant playing in a sandbox who created the mountains. Then, Piaget attempted to tell the child the real, scientific explanation behind the creation of mountains. The child listened carefully and understood everything he said. A few months later, Piaget asked the child if he remembered how mountains were made. The child again told the fantastical tale of the giants playing in the sandbox. He insisted that this was the story Piaget told him. That was the story that made sense to him; it was the story he wanted to believe, so no amount of new information would change his mind. (5)
Today, we have a family whose child receives infant baptism. Some of you or your children have been baptized as infants. Children are a gift from the Lord. (Psalm 127:3) Baptizing a child is an answer of the prayers of parents, godfathers, and godmothers who want to raise a child of God through Christian education. I encourage and bless this child in the name of the Lord to raise her as a child of God and to be able to take on the role of light and salt in the world. I also pray that all children who have been baptized as infants will grow ever closer to the great blessed God.*