And a little child shall lead them…

Published 11:15 am Saturday, December 20, 2014

by Andrew Book

Jesus lived in a time when children were considered insignificant and unimportant, and yet Jesus was quite clear that children were important to him. He welcomed children when his followers wanted to push them away and he even used a child as an example of what it means to be humble and told his followers they needed to be converted to be like a child (Matthew 18, 19)! Jesus wanted people to pay attention to children and wanted to be sure that children were able to connect with God at a time in history when no one else was going to pay any attention to them. If Jesus wants us to pay attention to children, and even model ourselves after them, then I realize that I need to listen and pay attention!

I am the father to three wonderful kids who are five, three and one who is about to be born (any day now!). I am also the pastor of a church with a great kids’ ministry which gives me the chance to be with children of all ages who do and say the most hilarious things. But they also understand God and faith in ways that can be humbling to me as the person who is supposed to be leading them. Sometimes they don’t know how profound of a statement they are saying. For example, I love hearing the kids who loudly ask, “Can I have more?” after I have broken the bread and place a small piece in their hands as we share the Lord’s Supper together. They may not realize the depths of that question, but I truly wish every adult was clamoring for more at the Communion table!

Other times kids present their faith with such simplicity and sincerity that we cannot help but notice. I love the prayers around our dining room table when we are thanking God for race cars and birds in the same sentence as the more usual prayers for food and family. Kids have a way of making faith more real and less forced by their honesty, inquisitiveness, and trust. All of those are qualities that most of us could use a little more of, especially in a world that questions whether those who follow Jesus are genuine in their faith.

Our society today is not too different from the world in which Jesus lived in regards to children. While we may value them more, it is rare for us to look at children as examples or allow them to lead us in anything. Children are supposed to learn from us, not the other way around. But children have a lot to teach us as well, and we need to have time to watch, listen, and learn.

At Courtland United Methodist Church, we have been spending the last month and a half preparing for our Youth Christmas Musical which our children will be presenting this Saturday (December 20) at 5 p.m. and Sunday (December 21) at 11 a.m. I have been deeply involved in everything from adapting the script to directing the acting and working on the sound, but I am still looking forward to seeing and hearing our children share the Christmas story with us in a unique way. I am excited because I know that God will speak through these children and youth in ways that God would never speak through me in a sermon. They have a unique perspective on the Christmas story, and they have a lot to offer!

I would love for you to join us on the 20th or the 21st (there is no cost, but you might want to come a little early), but more than coming to a onetime event, my hope is that you would see the children around you in a new light. I hope you will see them as people who can teach you about what it means to live life fully. I hope you will see in their innocence and trust qualities that you can reach for again. I do hope you will invest in them, teach them and mentor them, but as you do, remember that they can teach you as well. May you find a new perspective as you look at the children around you!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or