The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of light entering darkness. The light taking the form of a child. Regardless of views of Halloween, the months between October and December are months of transition, visibly seen as houses are adorned in darkness and transition to the sparkling light. I enjoy the, almost prophetic, transition. I loved that during October we were able to hold a Light Party to acknowledge Jesus entering dark spaces. The children literally, lit up the night with sparklers. This theme carried on into Christmas as from the perspective of a child, God became like ‘us’. The us being referred to is not a mature, wise adult but to a child; a five-year-old can say ‘God became like me’.
When children encounter darkness or adverse experience, often ‘resilience factors’ are discussed concerning children. Like an elastic band, resilience allows us to overcome difficult circumstances. Those difficult circumstances can take the shape of bullying, family breakdown and loss to name a few. Yet, there is no greater resilience factor than hope. Hope creates creativity in times of darkness. I wonder whether we can often forget just how powerfully creative children can be? An article from Lana Vasquez helps me illustrate the point. She writes;
‘I was on the war zone border of Thailand and Burma around Christmas. I had brought a big tub of dolls, trucks, sweaters and cookies. We went to bed for the night, all of a sudden, I heard little voices outside our window, they were singing. They sounded so beautiful. And we were like who is singing at this hour? It’s freezing cold outside. We are in the mountains; we are in a war zone. We went outside and saw these little kids in raggedy clothes. I couldn’t tell what they were singing because it was in their hill-tribe language, so I asked my interpreter, and she said, ‘these are war zone orphans, but they believe in Jesus and so there are singing’.
Children can be vulnerable, but the voice of a child can also be incredibly powerful. The experience leads Vasquez to conclude that ‘children are God’s secret weapon’. As we move on into 2020 my verse for the year is ‘out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger’ (Psalm 8:2). Jesus referred to this Psalm in Mathew 21:16 when the children and young people seemed to praise Jesus, recognising something in Him to which the wise, old religious leaders were blinded. The praise of children and young people can be powerful, and God can give revelation and insight even to the very youngest. We can learn from them if our hearts are humble enough to listen; we literally must stoop lower to hear.
Dr. Krish Kandiah stooped lower during a time where he was wrestling with faith. He writes;
‘The game-changer for me was that in the middle of the lowest point in my life our family became foster parents…As I nourished and nurtured her, she brought me back to life…I never did rediscover my relationship with God. I say that because I encountered a whole new relationship with him. The developing relationship to my adoptive daughter opened my eyes to the truth that God was my adoptive father, and that I was His adoptive child’.
As we stoop lower, we have an opportunity to hear God speak in such a way we are utterly transformed.
Last week at the 4p.m. service, we have started to trial bringing more interactivity and creativity into the services. There was an opportunity to share with one another, hear stories and experiences of people encountering the Holy Spirit as well as engaging in creative prayer stations. There was one moment where the children had gathered over one prayer station and there was an eruption of laughter. It wasn’t irreverent, it was a joy. There are times were sobriety is essential, but we have a God who created a sense of humour and a great gift of the Holy Spirit is joy. Can we believe that joy and fun when connected with the heart of God is worship? Joy is powerful and children can have it in bucket loads! It becomes infectious! I learnt at Storylines from observing the children’s behaviour as they worked in teams to complete athletic challenges. We tried to tempt them away from their goal by using cake or the things we knew they would enjoy much more than remaining in a three-minute plank position. Once they had clocked on to our intention, I was flawed by how much they were willing to protect each other and ‘avoid’ temptation – even brothers and sisters looked out for each other! They shouted, they screamed, they offered
• For regular attendee’s to Coffee Morning and for new people who come. That we would have continued opportunities to share and pray for people
• For Samuels children
• For Storylines as we love new leaders to join us as we play games and teach an overview of the Bible encouragement to help the person endure the challenge. One child even tried to physically block me so that I couldn’t interfere with his teammate. They were brilliant! I had a clear picture of how, as a church family, we are to protect and defend one another.