St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri
Sunday, February 20th

7th Sunday after Epiphany
“Let the little children come to meand do not stop them;for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”…
Let the little children come –This wasn’t the reading for today. But it was the experience of the day – as it so often is! When I looked for pictures to headline this newsletter I noticed something odd. You can google this verse and see it for yourself. Every picture of Jesus and the children has them running to him, or sitting with him, but there are no disapproving disciples or anxious parents in the picture! There is no crowd frustrated because noisy kids are running around chasing each other! Now that’s weird. Because the story in Matthew is that Jesus has been preaching a pretty serious sermon; and that’s when the women appear, bringing their children to be blessed. And the disciples are not amused. They want to send them away. They are interrupting.In the way. But Jesus rebukes them – not the children. And we see that in fact, it is the children who are “in the Way” – and the kingdom of heaven “belongs” to them. Sadly, this often seems to me inviting the child to “come to Jesus” in Sunday School or VBS – but not to take their rightful place in the midst of the congregation as “belongers” – even before they “understand.”

If you missed church today you missed something wonderful. During the peace, Ezra Whatley, whom I often say is our “resident theologian,” came up to speak to me. When he does, I listen, Always. And then I asked him if he would repeat what he told me to the whole congregation. He said sure, so I gave him the microphone –
And this is the gist of what he said to us all: “When Cathy was saying that evil can lead to good things, I was thinking that volcanoes can erupt with violence and that they also make new islands.” YES! Even little children understand far more than we think they do – and often more than we do ourselves.

Now I love the picture that headlines today’s newsletter. That supper looks a bit like today’s Eucharistic celebration!
It’s true. As soon as they see me get out the bread and set the table, RB and Will make a beeline to the altar. But they don’t sit still, and they are too little to stand beside me and see. So they wiggle and run around and giggle.
And yes, it is a little distracting, (although less so than the bored, we-do-this-every-week look that a few older folks put on their faces as we tell again in the Eucharistic Prayer the story of Jesus’ love for us!)
But see.They have watched what we do for a long time, and since today Xavier wasn’t there, both tiny boys grabbed the offering plates themselves, without any prompting, and collected your gifts – and brought them up to be given to God.
And in case you wonder, that new couple who came today, loved it. Myrlene said to me that she hadn’t been in church for years – but decided to come, even though our liturgy was totally unfamiliar to them – because she has been following the newsletters online for awhile – and “felt the love.” She felt it because you are it. You are love. And you offer it freely and generously, being Christ visible and tangible to others – and so do our children.



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