They occur to me every Sunday, these words of Jesus. They occur to me as wave after wave of children come charging up onto the chancel for the Children’s Sermon, to hear a story, to learn a lesson, and to claim their place among God’s people. The words of Jesus that occur to me are these: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). Why would Jesus make an example of a child, one who seemed so helpless and powerless? Wouldn’t you and I prefer the image of a big, strong warrior who is able to power his/her way in anywhere?
Thomas Mann, in his book “To Taste and See,” writes, “My father was once walking on the beach with his three-year-old grandson when the little boy stopped, picked up a tiny fragment of a seashell, and began to examine it. My father bent down and, looking at the tiny fragment, asked the boy, “How could you see such a little shell?” “Because,” said the boy, “I have little eyes.”
I wonder if this is part of what Jesus is recommending for you and me; this quality of vision, of paying attention and noticing the world with eyes that are open. We live in tumultuous times, filled with ominous political signs, shattering ecological tragedies, internationally broadcast tales of distress and disaster. I wonder if we need “little eyes” that are able to discern the hope amid the horror, the blessing within the curse.
One of my favorite memories from childhood is when my mother and I gathered up oak and maple and elm leaves – gold and red and yellow – and pressed them with an iron between pages of wax paper. For the long winter season ahead we had preserved the inspiring beauty of autumn. My mother has been gone for years and those pages of leaves crumbled long ago, but the beauty remains. We had taken the time to look with “little eyes” at the blessing of the season. Now it can never be taken away from me. With Mom on a Fall day, I had entered the kingdom of God.
Your friend and fellow minister,
Rev. Steve Savides