Scripture: And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor (Luke 2:52).
Reflection: Six grandchildren have come into our lives over the past two years. They are preacher’s kids, so they attend church every Sunday with their parents, and they participate in other Christian formation activities during the week. We live in Kansas. They live in Texas. So we do not have the opportunity to regularly worship with them as an extended family, but we often receive Snapchats of our grandchildren in church settings singing songs of praise, learning, roaming around in the sanctuary, or playing on church grounds. Our grand-children are comfortable on church grounds, it is like a safe second home to them. On church grounds, they are seen, listened to, loved, cared for, included, and valued by the people who are part of their respective church communities. The church communities take responsibility and joy in helping our children shape their children’s Christian faith. As a community of faith, they love and care for our grand-children and do all in their power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love.
Jesus was at home in the temple, his Father’s house. Jesus was safe in the temple – for now. He was listened to, loved, cared for, included, and valued as part of the community. The temple teachers opened a space for a young 12-year old Jesus to join them so that he could listen in on their adult dialogue. In a society where children were to be seen but not heard, Jesus was given the opportunity to join in and ask questions of his elders and teachers. He was also valued enough to be asked for his thoughts on the subjects of discussion. His responses were respectfully received by the teachers who were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
The story of Jesus in the temple sitting among his older teachers is a fantastic story of a powerful intergenerational faith dialogue that values and includes members of a community, models how to openly share perspectives in our churches, and models how to nurture mutual understanding and appreciation for each other across generations. The way forward for our church is dependent on seeking out and welcoming children and youth in our communities into our faith communities, especially the children that are not “our” biological or socially connected child. As we receive the children in our communities regardless of their race, nationality, or language, as we listen to them, love them, care for, include, and value them, we will be amazed at what we will learn from them and where the Spirit will lead us through them. Perhaps it will be the children whom Christ will use to increase our faith, confirm our hope, perfect us in love, and lead us forward in divine and human favor.
Prayer: O Lord, enable our churches to be welcoming, nurturing, and safe places for all of God’s children and lead us all in the increase our faith, the confirmation of our hope, and the perfection of our love.