Karaka Mo Ngā Tamariki 2021
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.Matthew 18:1-5
Turning the tables on status and power
Jesus turned many of the norms upside down in his teaching stories and also in his choices about who to talk to, who to eat with, who to touch, who to forgive, who to call and who to call out.
But perhaps this turning of the tables is most surprising. Greatness is almost always associated with power over resources, strength to subdue rivals and the capacity to prevail against challenges. Children and greatness did not seem a natural pairing then and they do not now.
Here’s why: children are vulnerable and dependent. A child does not have the physical strength to subdue rivals and secure resources. Children are inexperienced, their view of the world is limited so there is naivety of judgement and their reactions are immature – of course!
And yet, the child is the model of discipleship we are offered by Jesus – what might he pointing us to?
- Brainstorm together the childlike qualities that you think might help to make us good disciples – Jesus mentions humility in this scripture, but what other qualities do you associate with childlikeness?
- Now consider how might these qualities help us follow Jesus and be participants in the work of the Kingdom of Heaven? What difference might it make if we were more willing and able to embrace humility, for example?
- Take turns telling a story from your childhood where you remember living out any one of the qualities you have come up with in your brainstorm – what was that like and why do you remember that story, do you think?
Wake up to Wonder
One of the remarkable things about children is that they have the capacity to go at a million miles an hour AND they can go so slowly it’s like they are almost in rewind. As we get older, we tend to pick a pace and more or less stick to it, and for many of us that pace is almost always about moving forwards, advancing toward the next goal, looking for short cuts if possible. That’s what a results based economy is interested in – maximum output and maximum gain. That’s what our culture seems to value and that’s often what we are judged against if our lives don’t reflect a busy, success driven attitude.
The freshness of a childlike approach means that there is no jaded ‘been there, done that, seen it before’ when life offers us opportunities to wonder, to slow down and really look, really focus and sink in to the beauty of a butterfly, to the reassuring comfort of a hug, to the fascinating retractable stalk eyes of a snail.
Play dough all age activity
Make a play-dough snail! This snail will be a companion and guide as we begin the week in wonder and explore child-like characteristics throughout this ‘Praying for Children’ week.
You can make your own play dough – it’s super easy!
There’s a recipe for you here.
- Once you have your play-dough in hand, roll it within your hands to make a long rope
- Take your long rope shape and roll it up to form the spiral shell of the snail, leaving a little bit of the rope shape at the end
- Form the last part of the rope shape into the snail’s head
- Have fun making it your own! You could mold part of the head into antennae or use a pencil or pen to etch some eyes (for fun!) or some designs into the shell.
- Take your snail with you, placing it somewhere in your house where you will see it.
May God guide you through this week slowly as a snail, remembering to open up to wonder, giving attention, innocence, curiosity, playfulness, ongoing questions, and trust through the eyes of a child!
See previous post Introduction to Praying for Children’s Week 2021