October 21, 2018
I grew up with Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Greatest Love of All,” and at one time you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing her soaring vocals sing the song first made famous by George Benson. I learned it alongside my multiplication tables and sentence diagramming. There’s a line in the song that did not strike me until I was well into adulthood, particularly after I went into ministry.
I understood being “the future” — all anyone ever asks you about yourself when you’re a youth is what you plan to be when you become an adult. I also understood the part about teaching us well, because as children our lives revolve around school, extracurricular activities and all of the things we are supposed to be taught. I never considered, however, the part about letting children “lead the way.”
As children, we were rarely expected to lead, at least not in the ways that felt right to us. We were expected to emulate our elders. We knew we were doing things the “right” way if we did them as the adults would do them. And in every generation, we who are adults expect children to do as we would. The children are expected to sit quietly in church — not because it will benefit them, but because it will benefit the grown-ups. Matthew 19:13–15 records a time when children were prevented from leading/coming to Jesus. Jesus offers correction not for the children, but for the adults who failed to follow them. What if we were to take the lead of children and be more vocal, honest, curious and creative in our worship and our lives? What would a church led by (not merely tolerant of) children look like, and how could it revolutionize our faith?
This past spring, I attended the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., with my daughter. This march against gun violence was organized and led by youths in response to what was then the latest in a string of shootings at schools, this time at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were taken in that shooting, 14 of whom were children. On the protest sign she created herself, my daughter’s message was simple: “We need better than this!” May it be so.
Rev. Denise Anderson; Coordinator; Racial and Intercultural Justice; Compassion, Peace and Justice; Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries
Today’s Focus: Children’s Sabbath
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Holy One, who came to us in the form of a baby, let us not despise youth, nor let us commodify it for our own selfish ambitions. Open our hearts to the ways in which you use your children of every age. And with every opportunity we have, may we come to you as little ones. Amen.