I’m smack in the middle of a busy summer when I learn the most important lesson of all. In the midst of teaching classes and sitting in classes and company at home and running kids to camps and service projects, in the midst of all the doing there it is, right in front of me.
The most important sermon of the summer.
That nothing matters unless someone matters.
I stand behind him, this tiny preacher, and watch him hold her hand and touch her face and look into her eyes and smile into her face. I watch her light up, lighten up, as loving attention does its work. I watch as scripture grows skin and takes breath and I wipe tears off my chin at the sight of the word come to life in all the beauty and grace of a five-year-old.
I’m thinking of the verses in the Bible, the ones from Matthew and Luke that talk about children, and that being like them is a good thing, and I’m wondering why? Because they are often unkind or undisciplined or … wait for it … immature. They haven’t spent a lot of time studying scripture, and they certainly haven’t spent much time defining their faith. I’ve never heard a child say she is a complementarian or an egalitarian, and I’ve never heard a debate in the sandbox over penal substitution atonement theory or universalism or evolutionary christianity.
Unsophisticated as they are, what I believe about children and the whole why we should be like them thing, is simply this.
They get it.
They offer forgiveness, freely and immediately and adorned with hugs and sloppy kisses.
They pray for lost kitties and big illnesses and children starving in places where they’ve never been, all with the same intensity and faith and trust.
They accept grace with joy. They say I love you. They giggle at silly things. They hold hands. They clap when they are happy.
They sing Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so … and they mean it.
They expect to be caught when they jump from high places.
They hug strangers.
They just get it, these little people.
Honestly, there are only a few things I remember from all that I’ve read or heard about God and faith and christianity these past summer weeks. But I’ll never forget the picture in my heart of a small sweet boy and the sermon he showed me.
The best sermon of the summer, by a long shot.