Daily Bread Aug. 31

Exploring with God
By Deb Crowley of Urbandale, IA, USA

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. —Isaiah 11:6 NRSV

The children sat attentively in team circles of five or six. Adult team leaders ventured with them in the various vacation church school activities. They explored God’s grace through song, crafts, food, and scripture story.

Throughout the week, they learned God has the grace to provide, to comfort, and to heal. On this night, they were hearing how God has the grace to forgive. The teacher shared the story of Jesus’ ministry, how he taught his disciples about God, and how God wants us to be like Jesus.

Then came the hard truth. Even though Jesus was God’s son, even though he was good and kind, even though he healed and loved people, there were those who despised him. And finally, Jesus hung on a cross and rose again so God could help us understand the depth of God’s love and forgiveness.

The children listened somberly to the story and were sad for Jesus. It didn’t seem fair, it was cruel, and the way they treated Jesus was not nice! They identified ways they, too, hurt Jesus by being mean to someone, disobeying a parent, fighting with their siblings, or talking about people behind their backs.

Leaders helped the children move beyond the sadness and brought them closer to understanding the depth of God’s love for them. Adult team leaders touched each child on the shoulder, called them by name, and said, “Jesus forgives you and loves you.”

It was an awesome moment as the leaders began reciting this phrase to each child. Suddenly, the children began touching one another on the shoulder and reminding each other of Jesus’ forgiveness and love. The capstone came when one little boy reached out, touched the team leader’s shoulder, and said, “Doug, Jesus forgives you and loves you.” It was a God moment!

How easily children understand and can express God’s love! How easy it is for them to forgive, accept forgiveness, give and receive love. Jesus understood this as mothers brought their children to him for a blessing. How much we grownups have to learn from children. Would not our neighborhoods, communities, even the world be much better, kinder, gentler places to live if experienced through the eyes and hearts of children?

Prayer for Peace

God of Grace and Love, help us set aside our grown-up distractions and pause to listen to the learners. Your words are fresh in their minds. Their love is fresh in their hearts. Refresh our resolve to share the peace of Jesus with the world.

Spiritual Practice: Listening to Children

Sit in your quiet place and center your heart and mind in God’s presence. Spend several minutes asking God to bring into your awareness the names and images of children in your life. You may see their faces or hear their voices as you receive these impressions. Listen deeply to the unique gifts and needs of the children who come to mind. Offer a prayer of blessing for each child and the needs you sense. If you feel led, you also may want to write a note or card and give a message of affirmation and love to each child.

Peace Covenant

Today, God, with the help of a child, I will learn again what I may have forgotten about you.

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