Body, Mind & Spirit

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.”

I’m glad Jesus said this, since I’ve been trying to keep some of my childhood intact for years. I don’t want to grow up too quickly and miss out on the wonderful, the delightful, the colorful things God is creating and accomplishing.

Every few weeks, usually following a worship service, a child will hand me a crayon drawing he or she colored during my sermon. Perhaps more adults should color during the sermon, too! These drawings are usually images of Jesus or of some biblical scene. Sometimes the child has doodled a drawing of me. Sometimes these are stick figures of the child’s family or the family pet. These children are proud of what they have created. I always receive them enthusiastically and tell the child I will display the drawing in my office, which I do.

Whenever I receive a child’s creation, I always feel I have been in worship. A child who has spent time drawing an image of divine love has touched the heart of God. And in the act of creation, we glimpse what worship is all about.

Think about it. Whether it is the pastor creating the sermon, the band or choir creating the music, or the people creating the liturgy – the central action of our worship is bringing things into being: words, images, sounds, feelings, thoughts, movements. Our creation points us toward the One who has created and is creating, and to the Word created in flesh – Jesus the Christ.

Whenever I receive a child’s drawing or gift, I realize that a child’s creation may have involved the mind and the heart in ways much deeper than my sermon, or that, while I was preaching, this child was actually thinking about Jesus and whether Jesus should have a purple, blue or orange face. These may not be deeply theological decisions from a crayon box, but they are no less creative, important and stirring than a choir anthem, a dramatic presentation of a Psalm or a liturgical dance.

Jesus said, “To enter the kingdom, you must become as children.”

I thank God. My wife tells me I’m childish most every day … so, by her estimation, I’ve never departed from the kingdom.

Friends, I hope we can always find enough wonder, mystery and delight each day to bring us closer to God – to see the new thing that God is doing. Our worship is helped tremendously when we have fun, when we laugh, when we make use of color, image, sound and even smell. Jesus, I think, was onto something when he talked about children.

It’s unfortunate we all want to grow up so quickly and get so serious and grumpy. Next week, when we come to worship, let’s bring our crayons and paper, and wait for God’s inspiration.

Todd Outcalt likes to laugh and eat donuts. He tries to write something new every day on his humorous blog: www.toddoutcalt.blogspot.com. He also loves Calvary United Methodist Church in Brownsburg – the people who are helping him to grow up. He is their senior pastor.