This week I have been reflecting on some lessons that come from both ends of life. I have travelled through beautiful sun-drenched Cotswold villages to visit my aunt, Jo, now just a month short of her 103rd birthday. Sadly, she is in hospital and much dependent on others for her care but doing well nonetheless and looking forward, God willing, to returning home once again. In her early days as a Norland nanny, Jo lived with various families caring for the young children in her charge who were dependent on her for everything. Those children, now all in their seventies, still come to visit her. As it says in Proverbs 31:28 “Her children arise and call her blessed.” Having known her care and genuine friendship throughout my life, I am glad to see that, but such recognition is never guaranteed in this life.
At the other end of the spectrum, at ECB we have just had the summer holiday club for children and on 12th August we rejoice with those families whose young children, and some adults too, are to be baptised into the Christian faith. What a joyfully serious occasion it should be!
We know children are a vital part of our fellowship at ECB and we pray for the day when some of them will become the leaders in the church of the next generation. But if we take Jesus’ words seriously, then our young children have also something to teach today’s church as well, maybe not by what they say but just by who they are. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whoever takes the lowly position of a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew. 18:4.
“Lowly position” – that uncomfortable phrase reflects how children were seen in those days and yet perfectly matches the example of the One we follow who made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant when he became one of us. Those familiar words are from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In the evening of 19th August, we will look together at how Paul responded to His Lord’s example. Humanly speaking, he tells us how much he had to be proud of in his upbringing and education. Perhaps someone like my aunt Jo saw to that. If so, Paul puts it all to one side, taking a “lowly position” in the light of the One he served, he simply declared “Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” Phil.3:7. Christ takes precedence above our desire for status every time.