A few weeks ago, a woman approached me after the Sunday service. Knowing that I am an art lover and occasional painter, she asked if I was responsible for the paintings hanging on the walls of the sanctuary. Since Easter, Tenth Church’s sanctuary has been adorned with 48 colourful paintings of flowers symbolizing the new life of Christ. I enthusiastically answered, “Yes! What do you think of them?”
She replied, “I have loved having them here. I often find myself looking at them during worship and feel led into gratitude for God’s creativity and His creation. Your paintings have helped bring me into a closer relationship with God!”
I quickly answered, “Oh, they are not my paintings! I simply helped our Tenth Kids make them – they are the work of children!”
Jesus had very specific and counter-cultural things to say about children. In Matthew 19:14-15, when the disciples rebuke the children for “bothering” Jesus, He replies with “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. He also said in Mark 10:14-15, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”.
In Matthew 21:14-16, we get another story about Jesus and children:
But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he (Jesus) did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
As Tenth Church’s Pastor of Family Ministries, I have spent a lot of time in these texts, wondering what my response to Jesus’ words should be. If Jesus really tells us that we need to receive the kingdom of God like a child to enter it, and that the Lord has ordained praise to come from the mouths of children, then how we receive children in the church must be a reflection of that. Yet every Sunday, the adults send the kids downstairs while we engage in meaningful worship, prayer, and study of the word upstairs. But, what if God’s character and attributes were most clearly seen in the praise and devotion of the kids we have just ‘sent away’?
As a first step in our response to Jesus’ words, our Tenth Kids team decided to try something. We started designing lessons with art as the responsive activity with the idea that we would hold a children’s art show ‘upstairs’ in the adults’ domain, sharing our kids’ responses to God with the larger community of Tenth Church.
When I revealed to that woman in the sanctuary that the art on the walls was created by children, she burst out with “Well, praise God! He has truly used children to lead me into His kingdom!”
Praise God, indeed.