Friday, March 30, 2007

The Status of Children before God Part 1

At age 3, my child said: why is God's face so shiny? I asked him what he meant. How had he seen it? He said: "because no-one is allowed to see his face until we are in heaven. That's why his face is so shiny bright".

No-one, as far as I know, had taught my child that. I was in awe at the words he spoke. It was if he had supernatural knowledge of heavenly things. If you know me, you will know that I have quoted Mrs Miroslav Wolf on this a number of times before:

“Children are not mere ignoramuses in terms of spiritual insight in the Gospel tradition. They know Jesus’ true identity. They praise Him as the Son of David (Matthew 21:14-16). They have this knowledge from God and not from themselves and because they do, they are living manifestos to the source of all true knowledge about Christ as from God”

Gundry-Volf, J. (2000) “To Such As These Belongs the Reign of God: Jesus and Children”: in Theology Today, Jan 2000: 479 – 480

Young children know things about God. I am convinced of this. (And interestingly, story after story detailing knowledge of God from adults with learning difficulties can be found in many publications or anecdotally). And so this leads me to post on the status of children before God.

Six different views are possibly held by readers of this blog. I will outline them briefly, using Ron Buckland's categories (see What I Have Been Reading For Two Years list). Two of them (numbers 1 and 6) are diametrically opposed and three of them are broadly similar and concentrate on areas of faith development and nurture.

Possible Answer 1: all children start life outside the Kingdom of God. This assumes that children of all ages are in exactly the same position before God as adults i.e. in sin and rebellion and if they die before repentance and faith, they are hell-bound
What did Jesus mean when he said: “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these?”
And yet note the reality of rebellion and sin, even in quite small children.

Possible Answer 2: the presence of a Christian parent establishes right standing before God.
This is based on teaching about the covenant; the special agreement between God and his people (Genesis 17, Deut 29, 1 Peter 2:9-10) The children of the people of God also belong to him. If this possible answer was true, would we not see urgent evangelism amongst parents?

Possible Answer 3: the presence of a Christian parent creates privilege, not standing.
This is a softer version of answer 2. To be in a Christian home environment increases the likelihood of future Christian discipleship. It is more likely that he will be nurtured towards faith.

Possible Answer 4: the experience of baptism establishes right standing before God.
Put simply: if a child is baptised, s/he is acceptable to God. If s/he is not baptised, s/he is not. So we must get children to baptism as soon as possible.

Possible Answer 5: the experience of baptism enhances privileges.
This is a softer version of answer 4. It assumes that baptism is undertaken seriously as an expression of faith and hope by the parents. It enhances the possibility of future discipleship, like answer 3.

Possible Answer 6: All children belong to God.
This answer can lead people into difficulties. Until a child can have a personal experience of sin, and therefore of guilt, s/he is covered by Christ’s saving work. But how do we know when a child stops being a child i.e. when do they move from the “saved” position to the “unsaved” position?

If none of these "ding" with you, stay tuned for part 2 next week when I will outline a seventh possible answer, and the one which governs my vision, my mission, my role to educate parents and fellow kids team workers, makes sense, encourages me and motivates me to be both evangelistic and nurturing towards children. I will set this view in the context of Westerhoff's stages of faith development. Come back soon!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Disaster strikes

Made a huge discovery today. It really shook my world.
I removed not just a grey hair from my head but a silver white one. Not a little short hair but one that was about 6 inches long. I was aghast. My kids crowded round to see it. "It's so white it's almost clear", said my daughter. Cheers, pet!

Time for that colour appointment with my dear friend Tom (the hairdresser!!)

It's been an interesting day. I risked being misunderstood today. I had to speak up for something I perceived as unfair. Does that make me a moaner? Or is it a prophetic dissatisfaction? The line between them is a narrow and difficult one to walk.

I am varying between immense excitement at all the good things happening in my life and moments of sadness and confusion. This week has seen an unexpected supernatural financial gift that has come to meet a specific need right on the day it was needed (thank you, Father!)and a weekend of immense affirmation from my family AND from people in another setting who don't really know me well. And yet I have received some of "that kind of information" that I'd be better not to know as (a) it's not upbuilding and (b) makes me want to cry. Know the kind of thing I mean? As one of my friends said on Tuesday: watch out for friendly fire!

BUT..... tomorrow is Friday. I love Fridays....most Fri mornings I go to Costa (sorry M - but is it OK if I drink only the fairtrade tea? I don't like coffee) with my playground mum friends who are such good company then hang out with them not only at lunchtime but, because the school holidays start tomorrow, later in the afternoon too, with loads of kids in tow. And then another school family have invited us for tea. A very relaxing day. Bring it on!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Busy week

Hmmmm, when is a week not busy? I am beginning to reflect on this. Will it be when my children are grown up? Answers on a postcard please!

I am preparing for an all age service and am being very stirred by the biblical command to care for the widow, the fatherless and the alien in our midst. And so, believing it to a godly/prophetic firing up; that's where I think we'll go......I have an amazing Senior Pastor who can rein me in where necessary and his son the worship leader who I am meeting with tomorrow to pray and plan. If G the Younger thinks something is "mince", he'll tell me! And I respect them both immensely.

Please do read and comment on Still Small Voices; as we approach elections, it would be good to consolidate our opinions on these stories of fear and forced removals.

On March 21 an encouraging story about the Scottish Executive broke: read it here
I like to end on a more positive note and not think about the devolved/reserved powers debate!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blog Discussion on Children's Ministry

Avid readers of this blog may like to participate in an interesting discussion opened up by Fernando, here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Learning from little children

I have been away for the weekend on alpha. A great time was had and I have in particular found a 4 year old who loves me (aaaah) - not my own child, someone else's!!! There were twelve children on this weekend, some children I knew and some guests' children. All were under 4 except two.

Impromptu worship and prayer broke out really. Amongst the children. I hadn't planned it - and most interestingly of all the child who had never been to church really started it all off by asking if we could do a particular song which I had taught on Friday night. It talks of God being our shield and protector as we lie down to sleep. She and her sister were transfixed by this song.

Children, I believe, are in the heart of God. His heart for them hasn't changed. Even if and when they decide to walk away from him, he still loves them. I think that's why the kingdom of God belongs to "such as these" and that's why they recognise him for who he is. There is a respect for the things of God in little children. They simply love him back. As Judith Gundry-Volf said (hey! I know more of Miroslav's wife's work than I know of Miroslav himself! Sisters UNITE!):

“Children are not mere ignoramuses in terms of spiritual insight in the Gospel tradition. They know Jesus’ true identity. They praise Him as the Son of David (Matthew 21:14-16). They have this knowledge from God and not from themselves and because they do, they are living manifestos to the source of all true knowledge about Christ as from God.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Still Small Voices

I am writing an essay.
Fed up.
Feeling a compulsion to vacuum/wash clothes/iron/tidy/clean cooker/sew/sort through cupboards..........

However, got a story today for Still Small Voices. Please do read it here.

Monday, March 12, 2007

P45 Part 2...........

God speaks to us in lots of different ways.

Following on from the last post, I received a telephone call yesterday afternoon, Sunday (yes, a phone call on a SUNDAY afternoon) from these people to ask me if I would undertake a short-term assignment for them........

I asked for more time to think about it............(note of explanation: I can do this work alongside my church job)

Undertake a short term assignment? Phone calls outside office hours? Can I have more time to think about it? This is becoming more and more like 24 all the time!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

THAT hair clip

Hee hee :-)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I, our office manager and our administrator are SERIOUSLY obsessed by 24.
I'm on Series 4.
Office Manager is on Series 5.
Cupcake, I mean, Martha, has seen Series 4 but needs to catch up with my series 3 (she likes to be different)

We're finding ways of bringing Jack-Bauer-speak into the daily routine of office life.
I am finding my imagination is running riot.
* I could ask J to patch me through the coordinates of the family I've to visit.
* She and I decided my hairclip contains a secret recording device to actually prove once and for all Who IS Responsible For Our Church Website.
* We could request satellite realignment and thermal imaging of the south side of the city to track down the Senior Pastor's whereabouts
* just as we see someone return to church after a long absence, they will be bundled into a car and driven away at high speed, with a Pastoral Leader in hot pursuit to win them back to the family of God (successfully of course) .......

How else could the Christian Church benefit from a Jack Bauer? :-)
There's something of the Quosh-Injustice -Let's -Take-Action about him! He's a subversive!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Went to see Hot Fuzz on Friday. I strongly recommend it!! There are some scenes of murderous carnage but it is tongue-in-cheek, laugh-out-loud humour with the gloriously talented Simon Pegg.

It's also a "who's who" of British comedy - I lost count after about twelve well known comic actors.

Spent a day at the chalk-face again today (English classes). I do enjoy this. I've blogged on this before, but nothing beats the banter in a staff room. Weird thing is walking the corridors and being tapped on the shoulder by some teenagers who are part of the church - they are shocked to see me out of context and I am shocked at physical contact by a teenager in a school tie. Actually, for tie - read "hoody".

Last week was a hard one - I used to love having meetings in my job because I work alone so often and now I don't as much because at the end I am reminded of (a) all the things I have forgotten to do prior to the meeting (b) all the things I now have to do arising out of the meeting! I am convinced that my ability to retain information is receding fast.......

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Guilty Mother

Re: last post - I am a guilty mum. Mr Personality Force Ten was being pretty testing again and then I find out............he has septic tonsils I have had enforced time indoors. Been good though. We probably all have fond memories of being tucked by our mums in a blankie on the couch in front of the TV. Getting the antibiotic down the throat is another matter.....

However, it meant I could not go to an anti-Trident public meeting. I was going to meet up with some education colleagues and have a light refreshment afterwards.....but hopefully we can reschedule this for the coming week.

Took my mum to the ballet tonight for her birthday!!! My first ever outing to see men in tights! I really wasn't that keen on going but to my surprise I did enjoy it. The orchestra were superb and I found the music really moving.

And another social weekend - planning to see The Good Shepherd.