November 8, 2009

Luke 18:15-17 (Preschool Sunday)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT

November 8, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The text from God’s Word today is the Gospel lesson from Luke 18:

Now they were bringing even infants to [Jesus] that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Television commercials are intentionally designed to get you to buy the product or the services offered.  Commercials and ads target your sense of “I need that.”  Statistics have shown that store shoppers will often buy the items at the aisle-end displays because of the location and the “Oh, I need that” response.  Those “you need that” items are so conveniently located right there for you.  In our Gospel lesson today from Luke 18 we find an “I need that” moment.  The need was for Jesus and His blessing given to babies and children.

Parents were bringing babies and children to Jesus to have Him touch them.  This was not a visit to Santa Claus moment where a parent would put the child on Jesus’ lap, Jesus would then pat them on the head and say “Good boy” or “Good girl” and that was that.  No, this was a special moment when these parents were looking for God’s blessing for their little one.  The touch of Jesus was His laying His hands on the child’s head with a prayer of blessing.  It was a giving to the child what was there for them in the person of Jesus, true God and true Man—the blessing of His love, His mercy, His peace, the gift of His forgiveness and eternal life.

But Jesus’ disciples had other ideas.  In their understanding, Jesus only had things to give to adults.  They viewed this bringing of infants and children as an infringement or as inappropriate.  This was an intrusion on Jesus’ real ministry to adults who needed what is there for them in God’s Kingdom.  But the disciples showed by their rebuking of these parents that they didn’t really understand what God’s Kingdom was like or even Jesus, Himself.

That’s where you and I can often see ourselves.  Many times we think that we’ve got it.  Many times we believe that we understand how God operates and just how He’s going to go about things in our lives.  Trouble is, our understanding is all messed up because of our sinful nature.  Because we are sinners, we impose our thinking, our desires, and our wants upon God and so make Him out to be what we think He should be like.  “God should do things the way I want them to be done.  Don’t I know best about my own life and my own needs?”

Do we really know best?  The disciples thought that they knew better than God who should come to Him.  “Don’t bother Jesus with these children.  He’s here for the adults.  He has nothing to offer little ones.  Go away.  Don’t bother the Master now.”  Like the disciples, we don’t always know what is best for us.  We don’t often fully realize all that God has to give to us because we become so wrapped up in ourselves, in our selfishness, in our wants and needs.  We become best of friends with “Me, Myself, and I.”  We place limits on God.  We bargain with Him over things in this world that are temporary and don’t last.  You and I become so passionate about material things and popularity and survival of the “greatest” that we fail to realize what is there in Jesus for each one of us.  So we need to be brought back into the spiritual reality of God’s Kingdom that has come to us in Jesus, His only Son.

How did Jesus bring the disciples back into God’s reality?  He said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.”  Wait a minute, Jesus?  The Kingdom is for kids?  You’ve got something to give them?  Yes, Jesus has something to give to babies, toddlers, children, teen-agers, young adults, adults, and seniors.  Jesus has something to give to each one of you.  We are brought back into the reality of God’s Kingdom by His Son, Jesus, through His calling of little ones to Himself.  By their simplicity, humility, and utter inability to come to Jesus on their own, infants and young children demonstrate the characteristics of those who enter the Kingdom of God.  Christ alone invites us to come to Him in humility and trust in order to receive from Him what is there for you!

What Jesus has for you is nothing less than His love, His mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness.  Jesus loved you so much that He willingly suffered the punishment for all your sins.  He gave up His life on a cross for you.  On the cross Jesus suffered the wrath and punishment of God against all sin.  He died for your sins so that you would have God’s complete forgiveness.  Because of what Jesus did for you and all people when He died on the cross, God the Father looks at you and says, “You are not guilty of sin.  I declare you innocent because Jesus shed His blood to take away your sins.  They are gone.  You are forgiven.”

That is such good news!  But that’s not all.  Because Jesus has purchased and won your forgiveness from sins, He has also rescued you from the power of death.  Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.  On that first Easter morning, Jesus left the tomb alive.  He was victorious over sin on the cross and rose the victor over death and the grave in His resurrection.  Because Jesus lives, you who have your sins forgiven by Jesus will also live.  Yes, not only does Jesus forgive you, but He also gives you eternal life in heaven.

How does all this become yours?  By another gift from God called faith.  God enables and empowers you simply to believe that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, suffered and died on the cross to save you from your sins and rose again giving you life forever with Him.  It really is that simple.  As young children have complete trust in their parents to love and to care for them, so we also are given complete trust in Jesus that He loves and cares for us.  As the Bible, God’s Word, guarantees, “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:39)

Christ’s invitation to little children to come to Him and to receive His love, His forgiveness, and life is one of the reasons for our congregation’s Preschool.  Jesus has gifts to give to everyone, especially little children.  We want them to meet Jesus through His Word in the Bible.  We want little ones to come to know that Jesus is their special friend, He goes wherever they go.  It is our heartfelt desire that our preschoolers also learn about the world that God made, that they learn A-B-C and 1-2-3.  We want them to get the best start in their education that they possibly can.  But we never want them to forget Jesus because He has so much love to give them.

And He has so much love to give to you.  You are all His children, regardless of your age.  He loves you all the same.  He forgives you all your sins.  He gives you eternal life free of charge because He went to the cross and rose again to be your Savior and Friend.

To our Preschool families—thank you for being here with us this morning.  Thank you for the joy of sharing your children with us and entrusting to this congregation the great responsibility of teaching them.  Thank you for the chance you give us to share our friend Jesus together.  We are honored and humbled to partner with you in your child’s preschool years and we are so thankful that you are a part of our church-school family.  To my colleagues—Danielle and Tiffany: thank you for your love of Jesus and for your love of His children that encourages you as you teach them.  Thank you for your selfless dedication.  Thank you also to your husbands and children as they allow you to share in the joy of Christian education in this congregation.  We are glad you are a part of our family here.

So, the next time you find yourself in an “I need moment,” remember that Jesus has already met your need for forgiveness and eternal life.  He is your Savior.  He is your Friend.  Jesus loves you very much and He always will.  The Lord bless you in Jesus’ name, now and always.  Amen.