Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2, KJV)
Most Sundays after church services are over and before heading for home, I walk through all the pews in the church sanctuary, so as to collect the attendance sheets from the 8:00 & 10:45 a.m. services. (And allow me to publicly thank Mark Beauregard, Clint Frontz, and occasionally other ushers, who pull the sheets from our pew attendance folders, so that I can more easily and quickly collect those sheets.) Later in the day that Sunday, I review the sheets so as to identify people who are visiting at worship with us. Then on Monday I alert our evangelism team so that they can send out welcome cards and notes to these visitors.
This past Sunday, as I collected the sheets in Section 1 (as I call the section right in front of the AV Room), I saw the scene captured in the picture that leads this devotion. I stopped for a few moments, and plucked the crayon from its forgotten hiding spot, and thought about how we “entertain angels unawares” every Sunday in church. Our youngest church members come with their parents, and sometimes struggle to connect with many of the adult focused parts of our worship life. It is easy to see them as window dressing … nice to have; fun to look at; but not very helpful. It is easy to see them as fodder for a few giggles during the children’s sermon. BUT … But … but … they are children of God just like you and me, and God is at work in their hearts and souls, just as God works on those of us who believe our faith to be far superior to that of our children. That faith development always looks different in a child than it does in an adult or young adult. But it is present, nonetheless … in crayoned pictures … in the safety of their parents’ arms … in moments when they may seem distracted, but in fact are listening … in their lively spirits.
So, I am always glad to have our kiddos in the pews. When they are a little noisy, I tell myself that they are trying to verbalize the excitement they have as they experience the love of God in their heart. When they laugh or giggle or cry out at things that we neither see nor understand, I tell myself that their eyes of faith are less clouded than mine, and they are able to see God’s Spirit more easily than I can. And when I see indicators of their tangible presence in our pews, like this inobtrusive green crayon, I remind myself that in our children, we do in fact “entertain angels unawares.”
So, as you say your prayers this week, offer up a smile and a word of gratitude to God for the children in our lives … the children in our congregational life … and the children in our worship life. They are angelic messengers among us, who bring tidings of simplicity … and attentiveness … and joy … and the ability to find God in places in which we don’t even think to look. Angels unawares, indeed. Thank God for that!