Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Epiphany 5
February 8, 2015
Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. (Matthew 19:13, NRSV)
They go by the names of Smaug’s Jewels, Nice to Meet You, Yurt Circle, Wink, and Knots. They are permutations of games like Steal the Bacon, Duck Duck Goose and Musical Chairs among others. They are thirty years old now, having been reborn at that time in the hippie peace movement of the 1970’s. They are designed to be non-competitive games that celebrate the joy of simply playing together. They are called New Games. I have two books filled with dozens of them. I bring the books along with me on every retreat I lead, and find that as often as not, our kids still enjoy playing many of them. We played a few of them this weekend at my Sr. High Retreat at Camp Nawakwa. I am always amazed that our kids still respond to these somewhat silly and outdated games. After all, they live in a world that demands an ever increasing level of sophistication from them, and they are called to make choices and decisions that have greater risk attached to them, than the ones I had to make as a high school student. The have access to every corner of the world, and every event in it through their smart phones. And maybe … that is the point of it. In a world that expects more from them than might be fair for a 16 or 17-year-old, maybe they need occasional reminders that they are still kids in the early years of their lives. Maybe in a safe and sheltered environment like a retreat, they have the opportunity to embrace that less sophisticated and not fully matured part of who they are.
As I think about this, I also wonder if there is a parallel to your life and mine, and the places where we respond to simpler and less complicated encounters with God. Maybe it is the love of an old chestnut of a hymn, that may not have the most theologically sound text, but which still speaks to our heart. Maybe it is a secret enjoyment of the children’s sermon on a given Sunday morning, because we are grateful for a simple, clear and unadorned engagement of the Gospel. Maybe it is a spiritual discipline that seems too basic to be true, but which through that simplicity allows us to touch a deep and unadorned transcendent need within us. Maybe it is a moment of humor that strips away the seriousness with which we dress up our thoughts and actions, and allows us to just engage human life in all of its sloppy, earthy and unpredictable reality. Maybe in your prayer life this week, you should pray to be a child for a few moments … a child who doesn’t have to have the whole world figured out, but who can simply engage the love of God in a visceral and experiential manner — a love that can be embraced in as illogical and random a way as you wish, because it is gifted by the dependable and consistently loving God.
I hear no voice, I feel no touch, I see no glory bright; But yet I know that God is near, In darkness as in light. God watches ever by my side, And hears my whispered prayer: A God of love for a little child Both night and day does care.
— Anonymous Prayer from the website, “Life in west Tennessee)