At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
It is scary to think that it has been around 8 months since I finished my time as URC Youth Assembly Moderator. This role was an absolute privilege and made me really proud to be a part of the URC. As the URC celebrates its 50th Anniversary, we realise that children and young people have always played a key role. This has come in many shapes and sizes – from the encouragement of all-age inclusive worship to the development and growth of Youth Assembly which has led to changes within the wider URC. For example, the recent recommendation that all churches train someone to be a mental health first aider in their leadership team arose from Youth Assembly. I hope that, over the next 50 years, the URC can be as welcoming and committed to children and young people.
In today’s passage, we see Jesus’ response to “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and he uses an analogy of a child.
Not someone who gives money every week to the church. Not someone who commits to praying 4 times a day, 7 days a week. A child. A child who is still dependent on their parents or guardians to raise, nurture, protect, and educate. A child who knows that they can not survive by themselves because they need help.
We, whether we are 21 or 95 years old, need to learn that we can’t survive just by our own decision alone and that we need to depend on God. We need God. God will help raise us, nurture us, protect us, and educate us.
Looking back at the URC and our own local church contexts, how can we nurture and educate those children and young people like God wants to do the same for us? Which children and young people will you be coming into contact with throughout the day and during the week? How can you make a difference to their lives?
Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for the work that the URC does for children and young people. Help those children and young people to know your word, raise, nurture, protect, and educate them. Be with those who will be coming into contact with children and young people, whether it be at work, through family, friends, or church, and give them the courage to be the shining lights that will guide them to your path. In Jesus’ name, Amen