Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors. And the Children…

It’s the first time there’s been no room for me to sit on the steps with the children as they gather to hear me read.

I look around, at all those little ones peering up at me, and somehow, it feels totally appropriate to kneel, in front of them, under the cross and flame. You’d think, with all those children, I’d be in a huge United Methodist church, perhaps in the big city of Grand Rapids. But I’m not…

I’m at little old Wacousta United Methodist Church, out in the country, where I’ve been invited to celebrate Children’s Sunday.

And celebrate we do. The children from Wacousta Cooperative preschool put their hands on their hearts and then fling them out wide as they loudly sing: You can’t keep love, you must give it away.

And after we clap, the steps fill up with over 30 little ones who listen to the story of a wonderful shepherd who went out to search for his one, lost sheep. My favorite moment comes when I ask:

Now what do you think that shepherd did when he found it? Did he frown and say, ‘You naughty sheep, don’t do that again?’ 

A young boy looks up, straightens his glasses, and with the wisdom of a pastor, says:

No. He took it right home and nurtured it.

Nurture. That’s a big word for a little one. But it’s no surprise that he knows what that word means, since that’s just what’s happening in this little church, week after week.

Week after week, our children are being nurtured, taught, encouraged and loved. Week after week, Wacousta United Methodist church, along with thousands of churches like it, are growing disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

I’m so proud to belong to this denomination, whose goal it is to open wide its hearts, its minds, its doors, so that all are welcomed.

But strangely enough, that’s not even something we teach our children. It’s something they, so wonderfully, and so very wisely, teach us…



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