Jesus and the NICE KIDS

So a few weeks ago I had this thank you party and I received this pile of thank you cards. cardsIt was pretty obvious which cards had been made before hand and which cards had been done that morning as a Sunday School assignment. two There was also an entire group of cards that contained the exact same handwriting. I love preschoolers – and their teachers!

But it was this card that got me to thinking. nice kids

Thank you for being nice to all the nice kids.

Had I? Had I been nice to the nice kids? Had I been nice to all the nice kids? Had I only been nice to the nice kids? Was this author a nice kid? Or not? ‘Cause let’s face it, this card can be taken a multitude of ways.

Wow. I’m thinking of this card today when I’m thinking over the story of Jesus and the Children.

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them. Mark 10:13

Do you think that they were just bringing nice children?

Or, do you think that maybe some of them were bringing strong-willed children? Angry children? Sad children? Sick, snotty nosed children? Skinned knees, bleeding children?

Do you think that they were all bringing children small enough to be carried or do you think that some of them were pulling a few along? Do you think that all the children were coming joyfully? Or, do you think that just maybe some of those children – like the ones in the infamous Santa photos that you love – were being a bit uncooperative?

Heck, do you think Jesus was even seated like Santa usually is?

Our visions of these well known beloved Bible stories are often corrupted by common images.

You know the one I’m talking about here. I’m thinking of the one where clean shaven, very white Jesus is seated on a stump – the only stump sticking up from the ground in that field – and children are on his lap and by his side – all smiling, well dressed white children.

Say it wasn’t so.

No, it wasn’t so.

And I think in more ways than one. Because I think that some of the children brought to Jesus were not just browner and dirtier than typically pictured, I think that some of the children were of the not “nice kid” kind.

It does, you know, say that those bringing them were rebuked.

But there are a few things that we can be sure of when we read the account.

  • Someone thought that each one of those children would benefit from a touch from Jesus.
  • And Jesus did not disappoint.

I wonder if the blessing was immediately obvious or if it was only evident inside or over time?

I must confess to sometimes having crossed myself at the communion rail because I, too, wanted the blessing of a touched head and audible voice.

As you share this story of Jesus and the Children this week, I wonder if these things might be true for you –

  • Do you believe that a touch from Jesus blesses?
  • Are you brave enough to bring both the nice and the not nice children to him?

HE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT.

Mission Project: KAIROS Cookies, made at home

Do you try to do everything WITH THE KIDS?

Don’t be selfish. Mom and dad want to experience the love of Christ as the body of Christ with their child, too. Sometimes they could use a suggestion.Sometimes that’s all you need to do as a leader. Invite families to do something.

Do you know how your church participates in missions?

Encourage your children and families to become involved in those things that already exist.

  • You’ll foster community within your congregation by working together.
  • You’ll have built in help. Ask a ministry leader/participant to join you for the children’s activity.
  • And you’ll create traditions. Everyone (not just the children, but their families, too) appreciate knowing that “we do this at this time every year – or month.”

A group of men at Church of the Apostles participates in a prison ministry called Kairos and they need cookies for their weekend. All I do is make this announcement to our families –

Bring ziplock bags of homemade cookies for prisoners.

And things like the following happen at home. Here’s an excerpt from an article written by one of our moms.

– from 11/2009

My younger son loves being good.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that he is good all the time. It’s just that he likes the idea of being good, he likes the way being good makes him feel, and he likes for other people to think of him as a good boy.

Actually, the more I think about it, he’s not so different from the rest of us.

We all like to think of ourselves as good. We like the way being good makes us feel, and we like for other people to think of us as good, too.

Of course, as Christians, we understand that isn’t really true.

We’re not good, in and of ourselves. And any goodness we have in our lives is purely a gift of God’s grace.

Recently, through a prison ministry called Kairos, I was given a beautiful opportunity to talk with my 6-year-old son about grace in a way he could understand.

You see, Kairos is, on the surface, a fairly simple ministry.

Kairos is an interdenominational Christian prison ministry that tells the story of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness through letters and cookies. Letters and cookies are something that everyone can understand, especially a little boy.

After his Sunday School class spent the morning preparing cookies and writing letters, my son came to me and said, “We’re making cookies for prisoners!”

“Oh, wow! What a neat thing to do,” I said.

“Well, we’re making them for prisoners, but I think it’s only for the good ones. You know, the ones that didn’t really do anything bad, but the police just put them in jail by accident.”

“No, honey. These cookies are for prisoners who really did do something bad. Some of them probably did some really, really, really bad things. But the cookies are to show them God loves them.”

“But if they did something bad, then they shouldn’t get cookies, right?”

“Well, no. Remember how Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins? That was for everybody. All they have to do is ask for forgiveness, even if they are in jail. And that’s what these cookies will show them.”

And this simple, life-changing truth is what the people at Kairos share with inmates all the time. And, for so many inmates, Kairos is their first real exposure to the love of Christ.

More on Kairos