We Love Kids

Summer projects -- they're a lot of fun to start, but often hard to finish.  

That must have been true to the Nth degree with Nehemiah, the city wall of Jerusalem, and the much larger and harder project of rebuilding the people's faith and hope.  

In Nehemiah 7, the wall is finished, but the rebuilding of the culture of the city is just beginning.  Homes are still empty, and the streets devoid of the songs and laughter of children.

At UPPC, "We Love Kids."  It's part of our Code and has been integral to our identity and purpose since the 1920s when the seeds of this congregation were planted.  It's not something to take for granted as always true amongst Jesus' followers.  Even Jesus' own disciples tried to hinder the children from coming to Jesus.  But Jesus became indignant and said "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:37).

But we do hinder them.  At least sometimes, and usually not on purpose.  But unintentionally or not, children or often taught that the matter "if."  They matter to the community if they perform well, or conform to certain standards.  But the truth of children's minds and hearts is the other way around.  When they are affirmed as being important to their community, then they thrive.  

Rob gave an excellent treatment to an oft-cited phenomenon in our culture -- "everyone gets a trophy."  It's a trite way of saying that we're trying to affirm our kids, and maybe too much!  But the truth is ... get ready for it ... kids don't really care about trophies.  And neither do adults.  What we all care about is what other people say about us, and whether their words demonstrate that we matter.  To them.  To our community.  To the world.  Is there any more powerful way of showing love than to affirm that a person matters, that God created them for a reason, and that they have something of value to contribute to the greater good?

There are several ways for us at UPPC to live out this part of our Code.  

1) Remember that you are always a minister of youth and children.  The job can't be relegated to staff only, or the three people who like to do silly skits.  Be in prayer for kids.  Learn their names.  Ask how you can help serve the children and be an example that they can follow.

2) Be part of a 5-to-1.  Imagine the impact on a child's long-term faith and overall social and emotional health if every kids had at least five adults (not their family only!) who knew their name.

3) Look for opportunities to put yourself in kids' line of sight.  Don't just wait for them to come to you.  Kids might come to church.  They might attend some kind of class.  Especially as they get older, they might come to the family dinner.  But they might not.  But they're children!  They're not expected to be wise -- you and I are.  

So let's be wise and be exemplars to the children by discovering where they are and letting them see what it looks like to love God and love our neighbors as we live an abundant life together.  

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