Bishop Michael J. Coyner, resident bishop of the Indiana Conference, invites clergy to the table in aspect of a playful party with sparkling grape juice, wine glasses and crescent roles during the opening service of OLT 2015.

“Jesus reminds us to ‘let the children come’ because of what children can teach us.” – Bishop Mike Coyner

Story and photo by Dan Gangler

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner shared what children can do for us during opening worship at the Our Life Together clergy retreat Feb. 23 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

Coyner opened with comments about the Small World ride at Disneyworld in Florida and said while waiting for the ride he heard over-and-over the song, “It’s a Small World After All.” He said, “Nowhere is that more evident than in the eyes of a child. Children make us feel like ‘family.’ Children remind us that we belong to each other…”

In his sermon based on the Gospel passage (Mark 10:13-16 – “Let the children come unto me, don’t hinder them, for to such, belongs the Kingdom of God), Coyner said he has come to realize that the real point of this text is what children do for us, rather than what we should be doing for children.

He said, “Jesus reminds us to ‘let the children come’ because of what children can teach us.”

He said:

  1. Children can teach us about giving – “All of us parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will do just about anything for our children… But the truth is that we love to give to our children… Children – who need our love and care – teach us how to give.”
  2. Children can teach us joy – “Children teach us about the joy of living, about rejoicing, having fun, celebrating, acting ‘child-like.’”
  3. Children can teach us about faith – “Jesus said, ‘Let the children come unto me…’ because he knew how much children can teach us. It’s a small world after all, and when we minister to children, they minister to us.”

Coyner then invited pastors “into the Lord’s presence as children:

  • To put aside all our ‘adult’ differences,
  • To be born again with a young, fresh, pure, open spirit and
  • To be children running to Jesus who will not push us away; running to Jesus who gathers us into his arms and embrace us. Because it is a small world, after all.”

His sermon was followed by the Ritual of Holy Communion served in a party-like atmosphere around high tables using bread and sparkling grape juice served in plastic wine glasses.