Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 17 – Monday after 3rd Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
1 Corinthians 13.11
…when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ 7 So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.
Do you find ‘adulting’ difficult? Are you afflicted by those moments that arrive regularly, often at 9am on a Monday morning, when the world compels you to ‘put an end to childish ways’ and expects you to behave like a grown-up? I am very grateful that, working on Sundays means that Monday is the least adult day of the week and is known across the church as ‘Vicars Day Off’. Today, I hope to do absolutely no ‘adulting’ at all. If I am really lucky it will end with a jumbo cup of Cola, a giant bag of popcorn, and a trip to the movies to see Emma Watson in ‘Beauty and the Beast’. (Psst! if you happen to be friends with Lesley-Anne Dotchin please send her a message to say that you think that is what we really should be doing today).
The Bible mentions ‘child’ just under a thousand times. However in the New Testament most are in relation to being ‘childish’ (as in my refusal to do any ‘adulting’ on Mondays) and not so much about being childlike, a child of God, or the child placed in the midst of the disciples as the example of Christian ‘greatness’ by Jesus.
We have Messy Church in Felixstowe. Our Victorian red brick barn of a Church is an ideal place, with its many nooks and crannies, for children’s ‘Craft Items’ to be left forgotten for weeks on end. This can be a challenge to our need to ‘adult’ in a world where everything must be done ‘decently and in order’. I prefer to see it as an opportunity to rejoice at finding the seeds of a young person’s faith: which is what leftover craft items are, even if they do drip glitter all over the sanctuary carpet!
To strike a balance between these two ways of being ‘children of God’ is a perpetual challenge. I lean, to the frustration of colleagues and parishioners, more towards being ‘childish’ but I hope this is more out of playfulness than petulance. I shrink from a baby’s cry in church for its mother’s breast becoming a nuisance rather than an addition to my prayers. I hope I will never come to the place where a child jumping up and down in church brings me anything other than joy. It pains me each time a parent does not feel they can attend church because they are not sure their child will be welcomed.
How do we learn, like Jesus, to treasure the child in our midst? Can we see their leftover craft items not as things for which a place has to be found, but as signs of faith and testimonies of their love for God? Yes, restrictions of time and space do exist (thank heavens that many Messy Church items are designed to be eaten!) but if we do not pause and admire the nascent faith of our ‘little ones’ we are the poorer. The sad fruit of our own ‘childishness’ is that we run the risk of spending our whole lives ‘adulting’ and never enter, in this life, into the ‘freedom of the glory of the children of God’ (Romans 8.21), which is God’s promise and our eternal destiny.
Father of everlasting compassion
you see your children growing up
in an uncertain and confusing world:
show them the path of life
enable them to triumph over failure and frustration
to hold fast their faith in you
and to keep alive their joy in your creation:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Anglican Church of Southern Africa
- If your church runs Messy Church, Godly Play (or anything else
which produces ‘craft items), offer help either by assistance or by paying for the cost of equipment.
- Find out the names of children baptised in your church this
year and pray for them.
Find out more about Messy church here:
Find out more about Godly Play here:
Mary Hawes, The Church of England Adviser for Children’s work, produces a monthly newsletter “Child in the Midst’ which is full of resources. You can view the most recent issue and subscribe here:
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017