“As soon as I came down from the desk I was enclosed by a body of children, one of whom and another sunk down upon their knees until they were all kneeling, so I kneeled down myself and began praying for them. Abundance of people ran back into the house. The fire kindled and ran from heart to heart till few, if any, were unaffected. Is not this a new thing in the earth? God begins his work in the children! Thus it has been also in Cornwall, Manchester, and Epworth. Thus the flame spreads to those of riper years till, at length, they all know him and praise him from the least unto the greatest.” – John Wesley, Journal from February 8th, 1779.
Every Thursday I visit members who are unable to attend regularly or who have asked for me. Today I spent time with a precious member who is 103.5 years old. She recounted memories from her life and in every story she shared there was a theme. For her, children were God’s greatest gift. She recalled a time when a “little guy” came to her pew, scooted up next to her, and placed his head on her lap. This child didn’t know her but felt an instant comfort in her presence. She spoke fondly of the tenderness and innocence of children. Though she’s never had any of her own, her fondest memories involved loving and caring for the children that God placed in her life.
John Wesley wrote, “God begins his work in the children!” We see in them their undaunted passion for people, their energy for exploration, their curiosity in God, their gentle forgiveness, and their unconditional love. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew 18:2-5:
2-5 “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.” (MSG)
When children surround us with their presence, their laughter, and their love, we cannot contain the joy within us. Have we been childlike in our reception and celebration of others? In our acceptance and love of others? Have we knelt beside a child and prayed? Or with an elderly member?
May we be more like children and may our hearts kindle a fire in those who encounter us.