Last night as you were sleeping in your bed, your mother and I snuck into your room and looked at the notes you stuck on your wall. Words cannot express how amazed, delighted, and utterly proud we were when we saw what you had written. You could have written a note about your favourite toy, or your favourite book; you could have written about some things that you wanted to do on our upcoming family trip. But you didn’t; you didn’t write of any of those things. Instead, you wrote down 3 verses that you wanted to remember.
“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1)
“Let the Little Children come to me.” (Matthew 19:14)
“You made me and formed me in your hands” (Psalm 119:73)
What struck me about those verses is the fact that I don’t believe your mother nor I ever read those to you. Sure, we read you the stories of Noah, and Joseph, and the miracles of Jesus. I even remember reading you some of my favourite verses. But those 3 verses? No, you found them, read them, and posted them all on your own.
I don’t know why you wrote down those verses, but I am so very glad you did. It shows me that there have been times, unknown to your mother and I, where you have sat on your bed reading your Bible. It tells me that not only have you been reading your Bible, but you have been listening to it. Those verses tell me that your faith is growing just as much as your body is, and that you have formed a personal friendship with Jesus.
See, those 3 verse that you put on your wall are all about that friendship. It’s a friendship that sees Jesus as the leader and guide of your life; a friendship unshakable, unwavering, and unbreakable. It is a friendship that will remain with you through all the toughest struggles and darkest valleys of your life. You can count on him to be with you always, and to always uphold you in his grace and his love.
I am delighted that you are actively participating in this friendship; that at such a young age you have respond to Jesus’ invitation to get closer to him. I am so very happy that deep within you there is a desire to know Jesus in your life, and to immerse yourself in his presence. As you grow, there will be a cacophony of voices that try to tell you who you should be and what you should do; the friendship that you have made with Jesus, alone in your room, will always remind you of your true identity. It will declare that you are loved even in the times when you may not feel it. It will tell you that you are special when you only see yourself as ordinary. Above all, it will tell you that you are someone who is worth nothing less than the death and resurrection of God’s own son.
I am so very glad that the few years that you have behind you have been spent getting to know Jesus in your life. I think of when you were two and you used to sit underneath the altar rail as I read through the Eucharistic prayer; or when you sat in the back of the car singing “Jesus Loves Me” to yourself. I remember how happy you were when you started moving up to the ‘adult’ questions in Bible Trivia.
It’s sad that sometimes we adults don’t give as much credit to these things as we should. Often, when I remark about these things to people, they respond with comments such as: “That’s cute”, or “That’s so sweet”, or ‘How adorable.’
Son, your faith isn’t ‘cute’; it’s not ‘adorable’, nor is it ‘sweet.’ It is meaningful, powerful, and important, and it is a faith that the church needs to take seriously. Your faith is important to the church because it shatters the sometimes adult idea that the expression of faith needs to be reserved and tidy. When you come bouncing up the aisle in eager anticipation to receive communion, you remind us all that receiving Jesus in bread and wine is not something done out of routine or duty but out of a visceral excitement over partaking in Christ’s presence. Your shout of ‘Alleluia” rings out the true meaning of the word because there is joy found within the expression of it.
There have been times when others have suggested that someone as young as yourself doesn’t belong in the church service. Some have stated that the noises of children are disruptive and distracting for those who are worshipping – as if your singing, prayers, and shouts of ‘Alleluia’ does not constitute actual worship. I have even heard of people stating that someone your age has yet to develop and a ‘real faith.’ They would be wrong, and I would invite them to look at your wall. Those verses, and the faith within you that they represent, are inspiring and encouraging. They are an encouragement to my faith, and not to mine alone, but to the entire community. The fact that you have developed this richness of faith at such a young age testifies that Jesus is active and present in your life, and in our midst.
Son, it may not get expressed enough – in fact I am pretty sure that it doesn’t – but you are important to the church; You remind us what a friendship with Jesus is to look like. We, who sometimes get so caught up in the way that church ‘should’ look, are reminded that our faith is about joy, passion, and relationship. You continually hold before us the truth that the deepest expressions of our faith are not found in the grandiose displays of pomp and splendour, but in the personal expressions of our friendship with Jesus.
We can have the finest tapestries in the church, and the most elegant decorations of religion, yet if we have not the desire to hold 3 verses that speak of an indwelling friendship with Jesus, then we miss out on that which lies at the centre of it all. Perhaps this is why Jesus encouraged us all to have the faith of a child; when I looked at your wall, I understood why.