November 2020 Church Newsletter Article
“Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Luke 18:14
How’s your COVID list going? You know what I mean. The internal list you have of all the things you cannot do right now?! That list may have things on it like vacation, or going to concerts. Your favorite restaurant closed so add that one. Festivals are done. No Vikings game on your schedule this year. Youth sports have been put on the backburner. Even worse, mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, are lonely. They are sitting in that care center we helped them get into because they were in need of that extra care we could not provide, but we can’t see them, hug them, kiss them, or eat with them without a babysitter and dressing up like nuclear fallout is on the way.
This creates for us the “Great Grief” of COVID-19. All of us are in this together, not because we are working together to fight it, or that we need one another to make it through. All of this is true. It is better to think of it in the way that we are all suffering. We are all lonely. Even we introverts now are begging for the fellowship hours at church, the passing of the peace, and the times for community and wholeness. We are in the midst of the desert together, and none of us have GPS to find our way out. That is at least how it feels.
I have wondered of late, though, how this time is becoming a teaching moment for your children and grandchildren. How have we used this opportunity to teach our children and grandchildren about suffering and hardship? About the way of the cross? About how Christ tells us that we will have trouble, but we should not fear, because he has overcome the world? Have we begun to explain to them that we live lives of constant death? How, at our baptism, we were drowned in the death of Christ, and raised in the life of Christ. That once that pastor marked us with the cross of Christ forever, we are marked as those whose lives are one’s based on losing. That doesn’t preach well in a world that expects success, victory, and overcoming all obstacles to shine. Especially when our lives are often failures at best, and in need of Christ to pick us up and carry us past the finish line.
What’s even harder is for you to read these words and realize you are that child. That God is not sitting upstairs waiting for you to mess up so he can punish you, nor is he a God who lives only to bless everyone like Oprah. He is the listening and the suffering God. He is the God who hears his child crying, and not only listens, but comes to you. Who came to you once in Christ, in the manger, in your baptism, in the Sacrament, in his Word, and he will come again in glory, all for you. All he seeks is children. He has no time for adults who might see in him something lacking. He wants children who know that they depend on him for all things. Maybe we need to add that to our COVID list. Dependence. I pray God might make me more dependent on his provision each day, and that he might help us all to teach this to our children, that we might train them up in the way they should go. That way is the cross. It isn’t necessarily fun, but it is always good.