Posted tagged ‘little children’

Would Jesus Be On The Teachers’ Side?

April 17, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         April 17, 2018

                          

Since West Virginia public school teachers rallied at their state capital and exited their classrooms for almost two weeks, there has been a stream of teachers in other states that have followed West Virginia’s lead.

Having served on the school board and as the president of that school board, plus having a sister, brother-in-law, niece, and daughter who are either retired teachers or currently teaching, plus married to a lady who got her degree in deaf education and still works with special needs students, plus being a coach and a substitute teacher myself (Did you follow all of those plusses?), I’ve had to look at public education from different perspectives.

Being a pastor I also have a habit of contemplating how Jesus might view an issue or converse with a certain individual? Would he care? Would he offer wisdom? Would be simply be present to listen? Would he be swayed by the majority opinion?

Scripture gives us stories of Jesus interacting with children. Matthew 19:13-15 tells the story of children being brought to him “…to place his hands on them and to pray for them.” The disciples had their priorities messed up and started rebuking those who were bringing the kids to Jesus. Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

That brief story communicates a few things about Jesus and those who impact and instruct our kids. Like foundational arithmetic the rest of the problems rely on the beginning beliefs.

Start with those of the present who would play the roles of the disciples! Jesus’ discomfort- perhaps too nice a term!- with the disciples was their interference in allowing the connection between the children and the Teacher. They minimized the importance of the little folk, taking on the attitude that Jesus’ time was better spent with the older generation.

Drawing the story into the present, it seems that those who make decisions about education that involve everything but the face-to-face contact between teacher and his/her students have a responsibility to not place obstacles in the way.

If you’re wondering who that might be the answer is ALL OF US! Government that sees the challenges of our schools but treats the situation as if you can treat a broken arm with a butterfly bandaid…state boards of education that are more enamored with state testing scores than classroom educational discoveries…school boards that have to make tough decisions…parents who send their kids to school each morning after a donut breakfast and a packed lunch of Cheeto’s and Oreo Cookies, and then blame their child’s poor performance on incompetent teachers…teachers who have lost the passion for leading young minds in the discovery of new learnings…and the communities that continually vote down school bond issues because they have bought into the myth that teachers are overpaid and the schools have all the funds they need.

In regards to the disciples, all of us have the DNA within us to be educational rebukers!

Would Jesus be on the teachers’ side? He would be on the side of those who are committed to their purpose, impassioned with the importance of their calling. Like the children who were brought to him he values those who “place their hands of influence on them”. He values the opportunities that are weaved into the relationships between the teacher and her students. When Jesus placed his hands on the children it was the indication of his blessing of them. He values teachers who are blessings on the lives of their students. Most of us can recall who some of those “blessings” were when we were in our school years. (We can also probably remember a few teachers whose classes we “persevered” through!

Would Jesus be on the teacher’s side? He would be on the side of those who understand that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I might interpret that in two ways: That messing with the raising up of our kids is upsetting to Jesus, the Teacher; and secondly, that the education of our children needs to have a long-term view. Teachers are shaping, not enabling, the minds of our future leaders and influencers.

There is a saying that we’re all familiar with…”you get what you pay for!” Perhaps there should be another saying that rises above that: You reap the blessings of what you’re willing to sow!”

Hugging the Leg of Jesus

October 20, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        October 20, 2017

                                      

The past two weeks I’ve been battling a cold which turned into bronchitis. After a few days of the medicines and seeing my physician I was feeling better. Carol was scheduled to watch our three grandkids at our daughter’s house so I drove her over there.

“Granddad has a cold so he can’t give you a hug, okay?” They looked at me with a mixture of “How could you do such a thing?” to sympathy.

And then two and a half year old Corin Grace came over to me and hugged one of my legs! It was the best medicine I received that day.

One of the stories in the New Testament that I find confusing and amusing is when the disciples try to keep the children from coming to Jesus. The story appears in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew 19:13 it says, Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.”

Jesus in turn rebukes the disciples and says  “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Embarrassed disciples slowly creep off to the side as the children come to Jesus and do some leg hugging. I envision the chuckling of the Savior as little Corin’s and miniature David’s attach themselves to the part of his robe that covered his legs.

Perhaps I’m reading into the situation too much, like a Hollywood movie director adding a bit more to the scene than was really there, but, in my opinion, it is a picture of who Jesus was and is. He gave value to those who were considered to have no value. He raised women, children, and the outcasts up, making the point that everyone is valued and loved by God. To Jesus a small child was no less important than the most powerful king. The scribes and Pharisees were seated at the same table in the Kingdom of God as the toddler who has half of his food plastered to his face. In essence, Jesus had no time for those who had no time for the least of these.

When Corin hugged my leg she held tight for a few seconds. I can see children holding tight to Jesus. Could it be that in those “holding tight” moments Jesus was being ministered to as much as he was blessing the huggers?

It won’t be too long until he will be grabbed hold of by some others who do not love him!

The Quandary of Little Kids

April 11, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             April 11, 2017

                                   

Jesus loved kids. In fact, he told the grown-ups that they needed to be more like kids if they wanted to enter the kingdom of God. There’s a situation that happens in the gospels that gives us some understanding of Jesus’ thinking. His disciples are trying to keep kids away from him. “Sorry, kids! No children’s story today! Beat it!” The people who brought the kids, who we can assume are the parents, would have been a little taken back by that, I’m sure. All they want, according to Matthew 19:13, is for Jesus to place his hands on their children and pray for them. We’re not talking photo op here!

Jesus sees what is happening and Matthew 19:14 gives his reaction. He says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

     Jesus following was not to be exclusive, but inclusive.

A few days ago a restaurant a news story went national about a restaurant in Mooresville, North Carolina that banned children under five from dining there. Caruso’s had a number of customers complain about children being disruptive and affecting their fine dining experience. Since banning young kids business has improved greatly.

I hear the concern, and yet I wonder how Jesus would have reacted. The closest thing to a fine dining experience we read about in the gospels is Jesus eating with tax collectors and prostitutes. He also tells a parable about a banquet, where those who wouldn’t be invited to anything become the invited because of the refusal of others. Children aren’t mentioned in either story, but Jesus always had a thing for those whom the culture had minimized and considered of little value.

The quandary that people have about little children is that they…they…make noise when adults are trying to converse, or enjoy their martinis, or watch NFL football. Let’s face it! We like to be in control, and little kids haven’t learned that the world doesn’t revolve around them…because we think it revolves around us!

Okay, maybe that was harsh! But there is some truth in that statement. I’m sitting in Starbucks on my usual counter stool as I write this. Sometimes when a parent comes in with a couple of pre-schoolers the whole atmosphere of the place changes…and that’s okay!

Recently all of our family, ten of us, were flying back from San Diego after a great family vacation with our kids, son-in-laws, and grandkids. Our two year old granddaughter had a couple of meltdowns on the flight home. I’m sure some of the passengers were annoyed, and my guess is that a few of them thought that little kids shouldn’t be allowed on planes, but I’ve met a number of adults who also act like two year olds, and those are the ones who should be grounded!

The restaurant in North Carolina is just one of many that has ruled out little children. Part of the reasoning is that there are parents who bring their children, and it seems like the kids are the ones who are in control; and there are parents who think their kids can do no wrong, even when they are setting the place on fire! With different philosophies about parenting there comes conflict and unrest. That was evident when we took our grandkids to Legoland outside of San Diego.

What a quandary! Is there a Jesus’ solution? Is it as simple as having adults not play in the McDonald’s play areas and kids not going to upscale restaurants? No, nothing is that simple. What is evident is that we like to create our personal comfort zones that are void of distractions and nuisances. In a culture that trumpets diversity most of us expect things around us to be homogenous. We want to hang around with people that are like us.

What would Jesus do? I think he’d probably have a picnic in a wide-open park where anyone could come! He’d be someplace where he could bless people, not separated from them.