Jesus said,…”unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:2-3)
As Julie and I prepare for our good bye, I find myself thinking about a lot of things, and many of the great memories of experiences I have had and hold as treasures are memories of the children of Glossbrenner. VBS last summer, our praise dance ladies, the Children and Youth Retreat, and our children and youth have created great blessings. And I especially remem-ber trying to help many adults understand this teaching of Jesus from Mat-thew. People spend too much time in life competing for status and position, trying to be in control and uptight about where they stand in the hierarchy, when Jesus invites us into the wide-open blessings of grace and the crea-tive power of the Holy Spirit, where all of us have a place in God’s heart.
Child-like Wonder & Trust
Key to understanding our faith and the great relationships God offers us, is to go back to the basics of many of the stories of the Bible, and how we came to faith by hearing them. They are just as important, even more im-portant for our lives as we grow older. Stories don’t stay put; they grow and deepen in our hearts. They inspire wonder as they lift up our awareness of God’s miracle of creation. We need them even more as adults than when we were children, because the stories keep releasing new insights into new situations as they open our eyes, ears, and hearts. In the book, Leap Over A Wall, the author shares some great insights: stories gather up new insights and enrichment and give it back to us in fresh form. Likewise, one of the great impoverishments in a person’s life is the absence of “children’s stories,” as many people even avoid listening, or experiencing them reenacted.
Children Bless Our Lives
When we are children we experience the world from the ground up, work-ing with the basics. No matter how powerful, or how much experience or education we have, no matter how wealthy or old we may be, as human beings we are always dealing with and in relationship with the basics. Stat-ure may elevate and insulate or even isolate us, to cause us to become less aware of our grounding in the basics, but the foundation of life is still there. And God wants to reach through to us. We may lose our sensitivity, but we can never get away from this most important dynamic of needing God in the most personal of ways.
In Leap Over A Wall, Peterson goes on to say that as children we are explorers in discovery, every child is a Columbus, Marco Polo, or a Neil Armstrong, a Chuck Yeager, a Galileo, an Abraham, or a King David. The world has a wide-open horizon, and creation an even more broad, incredible multi-dimensional dynamic full of miracles. There is much to see, to hear, taste and experience that God assures us is good. God promises to be with us; God is always faithful. Stories help us develop an imagination and consider the possibilities before us. And while many people may feel as though stories that appeal and are shared and taught to children of-ten seem to be foolish fantasy, we need to come to terms with how they are very real and help us develop our imaginations and open us up to possibilities we might never have considered. Our first impressions of what we like, dislike are often wrong; being open to what God wants to teach us is vital for our growth, maturity, and participation in the Kingdom of Heaven.
A Beloved Story
We know the story of King David as very real, and very much a part of our faith history that is taught to us when we are children. His courage as a boy willing to stand up to Goliath inspires our hearts as it also sets us free to live life courageously. David shows us how to become human, one of God’s own. He is far from per-fect, often influenced by people and events, yet his relationship with God shines through. He matures, grows up and we are provided with an intimate, insider’s view of just how it all happened.
When we receive David’s story as part of our story, we find that we have acquired a God-dominated imagi-nation while rejecting a Goliath-dominated one. When David showed up that day of the battle, Goliath-imagination people treated Goliath’s power as all-important and saw David as insignificant. Too many imagi-nations are ruined by Goliath lovers-watchers and become incapable of seeing and accepting what God is doing. Yet David had spent much of his young life living close to God, where God refined and honed the ways David lived his life by faith. David lived in God’s creativity. So when King Saul wanted David to take Saul’s armor and do it Saul’s way, David chose to face the giant authentically by faith. He was as vulnerable as one could imagine with everyone on the battlefield laughing or embarrassed by him. David had the rare balance of being modest and yet bold enough to reject popularity and Saul’s expectations. No armor or sword, and only a sling shot! God would bring courage and victory; God received the glory.
Perhaps Jesus was making the link for us with this story and his teaching about the kingdom of God. “The mo-ment we permit evil to control our imagination, dictate the way we think and shape our responses, we be-come incapable of seeing the good and the true and the beautiful.” (Leap Over a Wall) It is no wonder so many are stuck, powerless in the face of evil and tragedy. Like the crowd that day, we risk becoming power-less cowards, confined, limited, and kept away from God’s possibilities and creativity. In Christ evil is defeated; God leads us to overcome the confinements of sin.
Disciples Living In Possibility
As disciples living in resurrection’s power, we experience the same empowerment that David demonstrated. My hope for everyone at Glossbrenner is that God will always be at the center of everyone’s hearts and lives. In faith, through our baptisms, our lives are centered not on what the world says about us, or even by what we say about ourselves, as much as it is always what God has to say and share and teach us. We need nothing more. As summer approaches, you all will be in my prayers, as we also pray for Pastor Brian and Barb, his wife. I pray that a spirit of adventure in God’s love is always leading all of you in life, friendship, and fellowship to grow closer to God and one another. I trust and am confident that new creativity will bless the fellowship when God leads. I give thanks for the faithful ways God has blessed us all. And with David and all worshipers we say, “by thee I can crush a troop, and by my (our) God I (we) can leap over a wall!” (Psalm 18:29) May you all overcome the confinements of this world to live and love as Christ has showed us – Tim