The Message, May 21, 2023: "Like A Child," Matthew 18:1-7

The Message, May 21, 2023: "Like A Child," Matthew 18:1-7

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
May 21, 2023

Please Note: This Sunday is Children's Sunday. The message is a "mega" message! It is the Children's Message and the Adult Message rolled into one special message. 

“Like A Child”

A Children's Sunday Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Matthew 18:1-7

(The message begins with a story told by a character that I play from time to time.)

“The Village” a fable told by Rupert, the Royal Storyteller

            Once upon a time, there was a lovely, little village. It was surrounded by beautiful meadows and rolling hills, a stream and a crystal-clear pond. Beyond the pond and meadow was a lush, green forest filled with animals.

            The people that lived in the village were happy. They loved their stream and meadow, the pond and the rolling hills. And they loved one another very much.

            In the village, there lived a young family with a young child. EVERYONE in the village loved that little child. They held the child in their arms and sang songs when it was a baby. And as the child grew, everyone helped raise the child.

            Mother and father taught the child to be kind and gentle.

            The baker taught the child how to bake delicious bread and wonderful pies.

            The carpenter taught the child how to build birdhouses and flower boxes.

            Grandfather taught the child how to sew, and grandmother taught the child how to grow a garden.

            The child ran through the meadow singing to the flowers and dancing with the butterflies; swam in the pond and laughed with the frogs, built forts and had incredible adventures with the animals in the forest.

            In the middle of the meadow was a mighty oak tree. Perhaps the child’s favorite thing to do was to sit under the great tree and ask it questions. Sometimes they talked for hours!

            One day, some visitors came to town. They strolled through the quaint and peaceful streets. They bought delicious treats from the baker, and a birdhouse from the carpenter. One bought some flowers from grandmother, and another bought a fancy hat from grandfather.

            As they walked through the meadow, they saw a curious sight. They saw a little child rolling around on the ground. One of the visitors said, “Look at that child rolling on the ground! Her mother will be furious. She is getting her clothes all dirty!”

            The visitors made their way to the pond. Once again, they saw the child, but this time she was standing with her head cocked to the side, making strange noises. One of the visitors said, “Maybe she has been out in the sun too long. She seems a bit confused.”

            As the visitors headed back to the village, they saw the child once more. She was sitting next to the oak tree having a long conversation … with no one. A visitor said, “Poor child. She has no one to talk to.”

            When the visitors were preparing to leave, grandfather said to them, “We are having our town dinner this evening. Please join us!”

            It had been a long day, and the town dinner sounded like a lovely way to end their stay in the village. So, the visitors accepted grandfather’s invitation.

            When it was dinner time, all of the villagers brought their tables and chairs and placed them end to end right down the middle of the street. Then all of the people brought plates and bowls filled with every sort of delicious food that anyone could imagine. The visitors were delighted at the scene, and accepted seats next to grandfather and grandmother.

            Grandmother had a beautiful smile and round, rosy cheeks. She spoke to the guests in her sweet Grandmother voice, “Have you enjoyed your visit to our village.”

            One of the guests said, “Why yes, it has been lovely. But we did see a curious sight when we were in the meadow. We saw a little child crawling on the ground. Her clothes were filthy.”

            As it happened, the little child heard what the guest had said. She spoke right up and answered the question that had not been asked. “I was not rolling on the ground. I was watching the caterpillar crawl, and tried to see if I could do it too.”

            Another of the guests then asked, “We also saw you at the pond. What was that noise that you were making?”

            The child did not hesitate to reply, “Oh that! I was listening to the songs of crickets and the peepers. I thought that maybe I could add their songs to my songs!”

            A third guest asked, “What about the conversation at the oak tree? It seems so sad that you had no one to talk to.”

            The child was indignant. She answered, “My friend the oak tree is not ‘NO ONE.’ I ask it all sorts of questions. It is very wise.”

            With that, the child skipped off singing a song that sounded a little like the song of the peepers. A few moments later, she returned. She smiled at the guests and said, “I almost forgot. Frog and Turtle are having a tea party at the pond tomorrow. They told me that I could invite anyone that I want. Would you like to go as my guests?! It will be lots of fun!!”

            The guests were about to say, “No, thank you. We are planning to leave after dinner.” But then, much to their surprise, the voice of a long-silent child spoke up and said, “Why yes! We would love to join you for tea with Frog and Turtle!”

            The following day, the child took the guests by the hand and led them to the pond. And much to their surprise and delight that had a marvelous time! They sang, and they danced, and even rolled in the mud … a little.”

            As the guests got in their car and headed home, they laughed, and told stories, and sang the song that Cricket had taught them. And they returned to the village every year to have tea with Frog and Turtle.

            The End.

            Children, you may have already guessed, but the story is about YOU! You are the child, and we are your village. You are the precious, delightful, curious and joyful child that dances with butterflies and sings with crickets. We are your village that loves you and cares for you.

            Earlier this week, I asked your village to write to me and tell me what they love about you. Here are just some of their answers:

            They love how open and honest you are.
            They love your energy and your enthusiasm.
            The love your curiosity … your inquisitive minds.
            They love how trusting you are, and how willing you are to include everyone. They love how you always make room for one another in the pews during Children’s Messages.
            They love the ways that you help one another.
            They love your laughter and your creativity.
            They love that you feel comfortable here.

            They love you! This is a very big deal.

            In the scripture passage that I read a few minutes ago, Jesus put a child in front of all of the adults. He said to them, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

            That was a whole new way of thinking for the people. In those ancient days, children were not valued like they are today. In fact, children had no value until they became teens or adults. The children were held in such low esteem that the adults did not use the pronouns “he” or “she” when referring to them. The word that they used was actually “it.” They called the children “IT,” as if they were some object that could easily be discarded.

            But Jesus turned their world upside down. (Jesus did that a lot.) He took that child and said, “This one is precious to God! So precious, in fact, that unless you become like them … innocent, joyful, open and willing to learn, trusting … you will not have a place in the kin-dom of heaven.”

            All of these centuries later, we do have a very different understanding of and appreciation for children. The words of love and appreciation that I shared a moment ago were only a quick summation of your thoughts. But the words of Jesus are still very relevant for us today. As you heard, the preface to the teaching was a question about who shall be great in the kingdom of heaven.

            I have not been approached by anyone in this church family with that same query. No one has asked me, “Scott, which one of us will be the greatest in God’s kin-dom?” But is a question that we should stop and contemplate. “What must we do to be good citizens of God’s kin-dom?” The answer to that question was in those words of love that you shared about our children and youth.

            Be open and honest.
            Be joyful. Laugh and be silly. Play!
            Be enthusiastic and energized.
            Be curious and inquisitive … always growing and exploring in your faith.
            Be welcoming and inclusive.
            Love and help one another.
            Be creative and innovative.

            Oh yeah … and one person commented that the children know that I am funny!

            If we do the things that we love about the children, we will make God smile. We will warm God’s heart. And everyone will know that they are loved and welcome here.

            Be like them … like a child … and you will create God’s beautiful kin-dom here on earth. Amen.


Congregational Church