Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Becoming Children of God

Scripture read on the 1st Sunday after Christmas includes Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 3:23-25 and 4:4-7; John 1:1-18

Today, St. Paul tells us that God became a child in a manger so that you and I might become children of God.

And today, St. John tells us that all who receive Jesus, who believe in his name, are given power to become children of God.

Who says it’s so important to act like an adult?

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of God.” That’s Jesus weighing in on the question.

Change how? This question seems to dance throughout our readings today.

Recover our ability to play. Adults play to compete, and I doubt that’s what Jesus has in mind for the skill set needed in God’s kingdom. I also doubt whether children need to be taught to compete—they come by it naturally—but the kind of play adults might recover for God is marked by imagination, simplicity, making do with what’s at hand, delight, self-expression, and openness to one another.

Recover our ability to play. And realize the importance of our senses. Seeing and feeling color and texture and form. Smelling the frankincense, letting the myrrh drip through our fingers. Vibrating our voices in song and appreciating music made by others. Hearing one another. Listening in silence. Moving and reaching in rhythms of sharing, giving, receiving.

Recover our ability to play. Realize the value of our senses. And rely less on analytical thought. Not that it’s unneeded in the kingdom of God—it’s surely needed in ordering the life of the Church, and in understanding the faith of the Church, and in achieving the work of the Church to bring justice and peace on earth. But adults practice compulsive analysis, while the central power of a child is impulsive trust. Which of these powers leads you to God?

Recover play. Realize senses. Rely on trust. And recognize true wealth, replacing money and things with roots and wings. That’s from the old Shaker saying that there are just two lasting gifts that our children need, roots and wings. If a pot of gold and a retirement plan lie at the end of the rainbow for adults, for children it’s belonging that balances them for becoming, exploring, and engaging life.

Recover play-- organize less.

Realize senses-- let them illuminate words and thoughts.

Rely on trust-- value questions more than answers, reach answers through the heart.

Recognize true wealth-- and share it.