Recently, I came across a 'thank you' card sent to me three years ago by the children a tiny village school. I had been invited to take their assembly and the whole school was there - all twenty seven of them! The children were alive and buzzing, infused with the joy and celebration of spring. As we began our short act of worship, the children surprised me by becoming quiet and attentive. A small girl came forward, lit a candle and turning to the others said "The Lord be with you." to which they replied solemnly "and also with you." They then listened quietly to what I had to say and answered my questions with enthusiasm. They sang the hymn with gusto and sat quietly again for our prayers. As we ended, the little girl emerged to blow out the candle and say "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord"- to which we all responded "in the name of Christ, Amen."
These children, full of the joy and expectation of spring, had come together to worship our Almighty and Transcendent God with silent awe and respect. Yet, lurking beneath the surface of their solemnity, their exuberant fun was just waiting to burst forth. They seemed to recognise that we were created in love and that God's desire is for us to have fun! From their answers to my questions, they also clearly understood that although God is almighty and Transcendent, He also longs to be close to us sharing the joy of daily living.
During Lent, we can become solemn and withdrawn as we make our own individual journeys with Christ, through the forty days leading to the horror of Good Friday. This is only right and proper, but it's then good to get to the joyous celebration of Easter Day and the resurrection of our Lord, who brings us the promise of eternal life with God. But after that, as we slip back into the routine and chores of everyday life, we can lose that sense of joy once more as the pressures and burdens of daily living become more important than life with God.
Jesus once took a small child and standing him in front of his disciples said "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." He didn't mean "you will all go to hell if you don't become kids again!" - he meant that we should all become 'childlike' in our relationship with God. Jesus wants us to be adult in our daily lives - because we won't last long in today's society if we don't! But in our relationship with God, he wants us to be children again - not unlike the children in that little village school - respectful of our Almighty God, but also buzzing with joy and expectation at the new life that he brings to us day by day, knowing the joy of discovering almost daily, how much God loves us and wants to be with us - having about us the innocence and trust of a child for their parent and revelling in the love that knows no bounds.
Yes, there will be times of despondency, like the time of Lent and times of mourning, but then, like every storm and season, they will pass, and the sunshine of resurrection and renewal will be there to lift our spirits once again. As we move forward into spring and witness new life all around us, can I encourage you - not to become childish, but childlike as we draw closer to God revel in his love, seeking his will for ourselves and for those around us.
With all good wishes,