Sometimes, I question my sanity.
I've definitely been doing that the last few days as I have gotten caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Some of it is beyond my control. I mean, when you have three children; and they are involved in school Christmas programs; and all of the programs are on separate nights; and they have Christmas parties at school and at church...
And you are a pastor in a church: where there are Christmas cantatas, sermons to prepare, people having end of the year surgeries (rational since deductibles have been met and it makes financial sense to not put things off), meetings, and all the other preparations leading up to Christmas Eve candlelight service...
All these things have had more than their usual impact on me this year for some reason. I've been confused several times as to what date it is. This morning, I slipped and told my oldest, "Good night" as I was hugging her as she left for school.
You would think I would try to cut out all the extraneous stuff. (I actually managed in a small way to do that in one area this year.) But, not really. I took on assisting a local dayschool with their Christmas program--playing guitar and helping to lead the children in their singing. Practice is important, and I've carved out space to do just that adding one more thing to the schedule...
But I won't complain. Not at all. I love those little kids at that dayschool. I've always enjoyed working with them and singing with them.
Oh, but the icing on the cake came early.
Yesterday, I practiced with the group. After arranging today's practice, I made one last gesture toward the Pre-K class. I went up to them and started giving them high fives congratulating them on a great practice. I was encouraging them and telling them how awesome they were and how well they would do tomorrow at their performance.
Suddenly, one little girl rejected my high five gesture with these words, "I want a HUG!"
Well, far be it from me to turn that down. Especially since I know how kids at this age often react to those of us who are clergy. Good, bad, or indifferent, they tend to see we religious figures as "God" or "Jesus." You may scoff and laugh at that, and believe me, when I look in the mirror, I do to. It's about the furthest thing from the real Truth as possible, but I assure you, in their little minds, they really do think such thoughts!
And I know it. I also know that I am leaving a huge impression in their minds with how I interact with them. I know that even though they will grow out of their misguided perceptions, they will remember in the deep recesses of their memories how "God" treated them. (For my congregation members who read this, perhaps you can understand why I interact with little children the way I do now.)
This little girl wanted a hug, and she was going to get a hug!
And she did, but she wasn't alone.
In a heartbeat, almost every other Pre-K kid wanted a hug too! So we did the group hug thing.
Five to six kids each time.
Some of them literally threw themselves at me, and I was glad I was strong enough to catch them.
And as I walked away and climbed into my car, I realized my heart was literally bursting with an indescribable joy.
Sure, some of them might think of me as God, but the reality is something far different. Far, far different. It is embodied in what Jesus said to His disciples:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’
2He called a child, whom he put among them,
3and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. --Matthew 18:1-5