by Ron Friesen
Hospitality is a word that extends an invitation – an invitation to come in, to converse, to spend some time together. Hospitality is usually an invitation to someone to enter into their presence wherever they are at that moment.
As I pondered hospitality in the world, especially in nature, I could not help but think of the places where wildlife make their homes/nesting places. Birds are most often the wildlife that one spots in their home/nesting place. Although if one is on the alert as out and about walking through forests, woods, fields and gardens there are other animals that may lend a peak into their spaces – however most of them will not welcome the intrusion of any one of us. I remember a small wild rabbit that loved to build her nest behind our house on the farm in what she thought was a fairly hidden space in the grass. The problem was that it was also our lawn so once in while the lawn mower would uncover the nest, especially when the little bunnies were getting rather big for the tiny nest. Deer tend to nestle down in a deepened area at the base of a tree sort of hidden in the depth of the forest. If one chooses to hike and can do so with much quietness, there are amazing discoveries to be made when out in nature and the wild.
There are also amazing discoveries to be made as one hikes whether out by a lake, on a trail, in the woods, in a park, on a walk through the neighborhood, on a mountain trail etc. I am so amazed at all of the things that God created and I cannot help at times but to wonder, how in the world did God think of all the different plants, animals and people? And also how did God think to create humanity with the ability to enjoy all of this treasure.
In Genesis 1:
24-25 God spoke: “Earth, generate life! Every sort and kind:
cattle and reptiles and wild animals—all kinds.”
And there it was: wild animals of every kind,
Cattle of all kinds, every sort of reptile and bug.
God saw that it was good.
26-28 God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings, he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
29-30 Then God said, “I’ve given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth
And every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food.
To all animals and all birds, everything that moves and breathes,
I give whatever grows out of the ground for food.”
And there it was.
31 God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good!
It was evening, it was morning – Day Six.
Welcome friends and those who are passing by….
Come and sit for a spell in the shade of the tree.
Take off your shoes and socks and let the grass sooth the soles of your feet.
Lean back and take a beep breath – – – –
Listen . . . do you hear the coo of the dove?
Do you hear the rustle of the leaf?
Do you hear the buzz of the bee?
Do you feel the lushness of the green grass on your feet?
Do you feel the air brushing by on your face?
Do you feel how your body relaxes into the chair?
COMING SOON! Don’t forget to sign up for the third seasonal retreat! On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflectionthat will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
Waiting…I hate it. I’m really bad at it. I am good at running ahead of God….not waiting on God’s perfect timing. I usually feel that God is late, never early. I will say that in recent years I’m improving. I have learned to pay attention to that desire to run ahead. I stop myself and remember that God’s timing is perfect even if it feels late to me! I stop and ask for directions a lot more often now. Advent is the season of waiting. It’s an opportunity, an INVITATION to wait and prepare for the arrival of Jesus rather than to run full steam to December 25th and his birth.
How do you feel about waiting? What emotions does waiting bring up? Are you good at waiting or would your rather just get on with life? Ask Jesus to show you.
Last week, I asked us to consider starting Advent early this year, and I asked what the invitation of Jesus was to us this year. What is Jesus inviting you and me to be about in the weeks ahead?
If you are like me, your inbox today is filled with Black Friday deals and the rush to get ready for December 25th is already on! What if you stopped for a few moments, made a cup of tea and took time to WAIT on Jesus? Could you get up a few minutes early before all the household work stuff starts up and make a choice to receive the invitation to WAIT ON GOD? to pause and just be with Jesus?
Today I picked a mug for my tea that reminds me that LOVE is the most powerful force for change in the world. It’s a mug designed for tea by Thistlefarms. It’s a great organization that helps women coming out of addiction and trafficking. I need the reminder that LOVE is coming into the World! That Jesus is that LOVE and is inviting me to bring that LOVE to the people and places I live in this crazy season and in this darkened world.
READ PSALM 80 from The Message Bible
Listen, Shepherd, Israel’s Shepherd— get all your Joseph sheep together. Throw beams of light from your dazzling throne So Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh can see where they’re going. Get out of bed—you’ve slept long enough! Come on the run before it’s too late.
3 God, come back! Smile your blessing smile: That will be our salvation.
4-6 God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, how long will you smolder like a sleeping volcano while your people call for fire and brimstone? You put us on a diet of tears, bucket after bucket of salty tears to drink. You make us look ridiculous to our friends; our enemies poke fun day after day.
7 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, come back! Smile your blessing smile: That will be our salvation.
8-18 Remember how you brought a young vine from Egypt, cleared out the brambles and briers and planted your very own vineyard? You prepared the good earth, you planted her roots deep; the vineyard filled the land. Your vine soared high and shaded the mountains, even dwarfing the giant cedars. Your vine ranged west to the Sea, east to the River. So why do you no longer protect your vine? Trespassers pick its grapes at will; Wild pigs crash through and crush it, and the mice nibble away at what’s left. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, turn our way! Take a good look at what’s happened and attend to this vine. Care for what you once tenderly planted— the vine you raised from a shoot. And those who dared to set it on fire— give them a look that will kill! Then take the hand of your once-favorite child, the child you raised to adulthood. We will never turn our back on you; breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!
19 God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, come back! Smile your blessing smile: That will be our salvation. AMEN
NOW READ ISAIAH 64:1-9
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you! For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look on us, we pray.
What do you notice?
What does the Holy Spirit Highlight for you?
What questions come up for you as you listened to the passage?
Maybe like the Psalmist you’ve felt like you’ve been on a diet of tears, or maybe you are weeping for the horrific violence happening in Israel and Gaza and in Sudan, Congo, Ukraine etc. Talk to Jesus about where you are and allow him to hold your tears today. Take time to pray for places of violence around the world and around the country. That the Prince of Peace would come down. That LIGHT will be seen in the darkness and that peace will prevail.
NOW grab your coffee or tea.
Sit for a few minutes and let God smile God’s blessing smile on you. How does that feel? Are you willing to receive it? Breathe in God’s love and peace .
Grab a dish cloth/tea towel and use it as a prayer tool .
Consider you heart today….what “filthy rags” have been getting in your way with Jesus? HOLD on to your rag/cloth and talk to Jesus about this. Allow Jesus to remind you to confess your sins and junk to him when you use a rag/clean up cloth this week. Ask Jesus to clean up your filthy rags as you use them to clean things!
Maybe you’ve been feeling dried up like a leaf, or maybe you’re feeling like a lump of clay that is just stuck on the potter’s wheel or a lump of clay dried up in a corner of the studio. Which image resonates with you? Talk to Jesus about this. Allow Jesus to refresh you and mold you.
GRAB some playdough or clay, or plasticine and play with the Clay ask Jesus what he is molding you into right now. Or find some dried leaves and put them somewhere where you will see them regularly to remind you to confess your junk, your sins, and let God bring new life back to you.
“God came to us because he wanted to join us on the road, to listen to our story, and to help us realize that we are not walking in circles but moving toward the house of peace and joy. This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey. The God of love who gave us life sent his only Son to be with us at all times and in all places, so that we never have to feel lost in our struggles but always can trust that he walks with us.
The challenge is to let God be who he wants to be. A part of us clings to our aloneness and does not allow God to touch us where we are most in pain. Often we hide from him precisely those places in ourselves where we feel guilty, ashamed, confused, and lost. Thus we do not give him a chance to be with us where we feel most alone.
Christmas is the renewed invitation not to be afraid and to let him—whose love is greater than our own hearts and minds can comprehend—be our companion.”
We are not alone on our journey. Jesus is walking with us. You are invited not to be afraid. How does this make you feel? Talk to Jesus about this.
The first Sunday of traditional Advent is December 3rd. Those of us who celebrate Celtic Advent are in week 2 of 6. YOU ARE NOT LATE!!!! , just start where you are!
Start today to say yes to the Invitation to WAIT. And to the INVITATION to prepare HIM ROOM. What is on your INVITATION this Advent Season? What is Jesus inviting you to be about? What are you being invited to notice? How are you being invited to WAIT on God with us?
Calm us as we wait for the Gift of Jesus.
Cleanse us so we can prepare the way for his arrival.
Help us to slow down and prepare our hearts.
Give us grace today to love as you love, Help us to love with extravagance. Help us to wait and take time to be with you. Help us to be present to the gift of interruptions. Teach us to contemplate the wonder of God with us. Teach us to know the presence of your Spirit. Teach us to bear the life of Jesus and live out his Kingdom. Today and Always. AMEN.
(adapted from Ray Simpson of Lindesfarne)
I have two Sacred Space Prayer Experiences for Advent and Christmas that you might like to create for your communities. They are great ways to invite people of all ages to pray with ALL YOUR SENSES! Check them out at freerangeworship.com
You can also invite me to come teach you how to create Sacred Spaces and do experiential worship in your church or community! I will set up a Sacred Space and help you get started. Booking for 2024/25 now!
by Christine Sine
Thankfulness and optimism are not the same thing. Thanksgiving Day in America gives us the opportunity to think about the differences, and to remember the deep significance of thankfulness in God’s economy.
I wrote a book on pastoral care released in 2018 by Fortress Press. One of the people I interviewed talked about the difference between optimism and thankfulness. The context of the interview was a chapter on coping with stress. Caregivers in any context need to know how to deal with their own stress, and they also need to help care recipients cope with stress better. Research shows that optimism helps people survive stress better, because how we think about the things that are happening to us makes a difference.
My interviewee, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, said that optimism can be overemphasized when talking about stress. When we focus on optimism too much, she said, we can slide into denial, which is the refusal to admit the truth or reality of something. She said thankfulness can bring about the same good results as optimism in many difficult situations, but without any denial.
How does this work?
Thankfulness is a choice to focus our eyes on good gifts. Those gifts might come from the people around us – a stimulating conversation, an act of kindness, direct help that meets a need, an encouraging word, a doctor or other professional who gives help we need, or many other specific gifts, big or small, from people in our lives.
Thankfulness also enables us to see God’s good gifts that come directly to us – an answer to a prayer, a situation that works out well despite the odds, inner strength to do something difficult, or peace that passes all understanding. Thankfulness also helps us notice the good gifts in the physical world God created – a delicious meal, the clear eyes of a child, colorful fall leaves and beautiful spring flowers, a vivid sunset, dramatic mountains, and towering clouds.
When we focus on the good gifts that are present in our lives, we do not deny the reality of pain, stress and challenges. Thankfulness involves turning our eyes to see good things even in the midst of those difficulties, and we take a moment to thank the giver of the gift.
Thankfulness nurtures relationship. David Steindl-Rast, in his beautiful book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, writes, “When I acknowledge a gift received, I acknowledge a bond that binds me to the giver. . . . The one who says ‘thank you’ to another really says, ‘We belong together.’ Giver and thanksgiver belong together.” 
Steindl-Rast wonders if our society suffers so much from alienation because we are reluctant to offer thanks. I agree with him. It seems clear that our friendships and family relationships suffer when we feel uneasy acknowledging bonds with other people, when we hold back from expressing gratitude.
Steindl-Rast points out that everything is a gift, yet we find it hard to acknowledge gifts because we don’t like to admit our dependence. Thankfulness involves acknowledging that we belong with others and with God, and that we depend on the people around us and on God. We are not alone. We are not self-sufficient. We cannot navigate life on our own.
In contrast, when we feel pressure to be optimistic, we often feel we have to generate positivity within ourselves. Optimism can be quite individualistic, while thankfulness nurtures community.
Colossians 2:14-17 gives great advice for living in a challenging, stressful world. Note how thankfulness is woven into these words:
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Paying attention to the good gifts in our lives is a choice that lays a foundation for joy and nurtures joy. May Thanksgiving Day give you the opportunity to notice many good gifts in your life, and may you continue to notice those gifts as Christmas approaches.
 David Steindl-Rast, Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 15-17.
COMING SOON! Don’t forget to sign up for the third seasonal retreat! On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflectionthat will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
It’s Thanksgiving week here in America and we are looking forward to sharing the day with our small Mustard Seed House community and following it up with another celebration with friends the following day. There are some aspects of Thanksgiving that I love. It reminds me of my need to be thankful for the many gifts that God has bestowed on me both physically and spiritually. All of us need to take time to thank God regularly for the wonder of who our Creator has made us to be and Thanksgiving certainly motivates those feelings. However it’s important to realize that for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest since it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression and genocide that followed. We need to balance our thanksgiving celebration and our gratefulness to God with an acknowledgement of these realities and prayerfully consider how we might respond. I am delighted to see that Randy Woodley has just published another children’s book The Harmony Tree: Spared by Fire. It deals with Indigenous and Settler relations, empowers women and addresses the wildfire issue. I just ordered my copy.
In my Meditation Monday: Circling through Advent this week I combined my celebration of giving thanks with my focus on Celtic Advent. I am amazed at how energizing and sustaining this practice is. Each morning I read one of my circling prayers, and this week, as I describe in the Monday Meditation, I created a circle from my collection of rocks and considered what I wanted inside and out the circle of God’s presence. I keep making and remaking it, using it to remind myself of what I want to see more of in my life and our world as I sit in the centre of God’s encircling presence and what I want to see excluded from that circle, a circle that encompasses the whole world.
Lilly Lewin is also off to an early start with Advent with her Freerange Friday: You Are Invited to Start Advent Early. I love her question “What is Jesus inviting you to this Advent season? And hope that you will take time to both read her post and consider her question.
Yesterday was also Universal Children’s Day and we posted two beautiful articles in the last week to commemorate. Alex Tang’s Embracing the Children – A Journey of Faith and Hope “the central takeaway is the importance of actively incorporating Jesus’ command to “let the little children come unto me” into our daily lives, especially in the modern context fraught with unique challenges. It calls for a deep commitment to nurturing children’s spiritual growth amidst the complexities of today’s world, including the pervasive influence of social media and technology.”
In her post For Every Child, Every Right, Kathie Hempel reminded us of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child and encouraged us to understand these rights and not hinder but support the fulfillment of them throughout the world. It is a very important post.
On Wednesday in her post Celtic Advent Begins and Seasonal Resources, Melissa reminded us of all the wonderful resources – both free and for purchase, that Godspace has available for the season. I hope you will check out these resources and take advantage of all we have to offer. And don’t forget our Advent Quiet Day on December 9th. Quiet days are so important during this season of frenetic activity and consumer hype and I hope you will join us for the day.
I started reading Drew Jackson’s “God Speaks Through Wombs: Poems on God’s Unexpected Coming” this week. What a powerful collection of poems to read during this season. Let me close with one that seems particularly appropriate this week:
Theophilus (Lover of God)
Luke 1: 1-4
Told by those
Lovers of Adonai
From the underside.
From the mouths
Of the disempowered
To the ground
By imperial power.
May God make us all truly thankful during this season
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Don’t forget to sign up for the third seasonal retreat! On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflectionthat will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
by Christine Sine
This week as I settle into Celtic Advent, I find myself settling too into the circling prayers I both use and create. I cannot describe the depth of comfort and sustenance that they bring me. The sense of God’s encircling presence and protection is profound. And I am not just talking about physical sustenance and protection here. I sense God encircling my mind and my heart embracing me with divine light and presence.
I hunted through my collection of circling prayers and prayer exercises, but in the end decided to write a new prayer for this week that both fitted the exercise I used over the weekend and the fact that Thursday is American Thanksgiving. I will use it each morning as I light my candles and pray:
Thank you God Almighty,
For your light that circles us,
When all seems dark and we are in despair.
Thank you God our Creator,
For your love that circles us,
When our world seems full of violence and hatred.
Thank you God our Comforter,
For your presence that circles us,
When we feel lost and alone.
Thank you God for you.
(c) Christine Sine 2023
I also came across the following exercise I created several years ago, that I found particularly nourishing over the weekend. I invite you to try it. It is an invitation to move our circles from the imaginary to the real and I think we all need the type of boundaries and strength that the Celtic circle and circling prayers it inspired, provide. You might also like to check out this circling prayer exercise based on a traditional Celtic CAIM or circling prayer.
I pulled out a piece of construction paper and some of my rock collection and made a circle. This time I also grabbed some of my heart rocks to incorporate in the circle, reminding myself that God’s love is the foundation of the circle of God’s presence that surrounds all of us.
I sat for several minutes contemplating my circle and reminding myself of all the attributes of God I wanted that circle to embrace. I wrote those around the inside, added the words circle us God, at the top and Circle us with your presence at the bottom. As I did so, I envisioned that enfolding cloak of God around me. Then, outside the circle, I wrote some of the characteristics that seem so much a part of our broken world, that I think are excluded from God’s enfolding cloak. It was very comforting and strengthening.I sat for a few more minutes with my eyes closed and envisioned God’s circle in my mind. I decided to add another heart shaped rock to the centre. God’s loving heart is at the centre of my circle. God’s loving heart is where life and light, hope and joy abide and they radiate from throughout our world.
The finished “work of art” sits on my desk as a reminder of God’s embracing presence. It is a wonderful way for me to recentre my soul and my spirit each morning. It inspired the creation of the prayer above and I suspect will inspire other creations in the future.
When I first posted a meditation on circling prayers some years ago, I received several responses from people who were inspired to use their own creative medium to respond. Wonderful colorful doodles, heart shaped designs of shells and rocks and artwork. I invite you also to respond in the way that seems most appropriate for you. What is the creative activity that most inspires you? Perhaps you like to doodle, or knit, or paint. Or you might prefer to garden, or go running or draw on a sandy beach. Or perhaps you like to sing or compose music. All of these creative exercises can be used to craft images that reflect the encircling embrace of God. And please do send us photos we would love to see what you create.
Gather your materials. Sit quietly for a few moments with your eyes closed. Listen to the video below. Repeat the words circle me God Almighty, aloud several times. Draw an imaginary circle and picture God enfolding you in a cloak.
What images come to mind? Express those with your creative gifts.
by Alex Tang
In modern life’s relentless and often chaotic pace, we are frequently caught up in our immediate concerns and ambitions, sometimes missing the profound lessons hidden in simple truths. Among these is a powerful directive from Jesus Christ, as captured in the Gospel of Mark: “Suffer the little children to come unto me” (Mark 10:14). At first glance, these words might seem straightforward, merely highlighting Jesus’ affection for children. However, upon closer reflection, they reveal layers of spiritual insight and a radical call to action that resonates deeply with our contemporary context.
By examining the context and deeper meaning behind Jesus’ words, we are encouraged to reflect on how we, as individuals and communities, welcome and value the innocence, curiosity, and faith of children in our midst. It is a call to embrace humility, foster purity of heart, and recognise the Kingdom of God in the simplicity and trustfulness of a child’s perspective.
Understanding the Command
In Mark 10:13-16, we are presented with a poignant and revealing episode in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The disciples, perhaps with good intentions, attempt to prevent children from approaching Jesus, likely viewing them as a distraction or too insignificant for the attention of a spiritual leader. However, Jesus’ response to this situation is both immediate and profound. He rebukes His disciples for their actions, signalling a radical departure from the cultural norms of the time. In the ancient world, children were often seen as less important, their voices and presence overshadowed by adult concerns and pursuits. But Jesus disrupts this societal pattern with His command: “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”
These words from Jesus are far more than a gentle invitation; they are a powerful mandate that places children at the centre of His ministry. By doing so, Jesus is advocating for the inclusion of children and redefining the value system of the religious and social order. He recognises and elevates children’s intrinsic worth, purity, and spiritual capacity, challenging the prevailing attitudes of His time.
Moreover, Jesus uses this moment to teach a profound spiritual truth. When He insists that the Kingdom of God belongs to such children (Mark 10:14), He emphasises that the qualities often found in children—such as trust, innocence, and humility—are essential for anyone seeking to enter the Kingdom. In saying that one must receive the Kingdom of God like a child (Mark 10:15), Jesus speaks not just of physical age but also of a state of heart and mind. This child-like receptivity is characterised by a willingness to believe without cynicism, to trust without suspicion, and to embrace the Kingdom with a heart unburdened by pride or pretence.
In this context, Jesus is not only highlighting the significance of children in the Kingdom but also calling His followers to a different kind of spiritual posture—one that values simplicity over complexity, humility over arrogance, and trustful faith over sceptical rationality. He invites His followers, then and now, to discipleship that embraces these child-like qualities as central to a life of faith and as vital to understanding the nature of God’s Kingdom. In this light, “Suffer the little children to come unto me” becomes a transformative command that can reshape our approach to faith, spirituality, and community life.
Living the Command
Living out Jesus’ command in today’s context, particularly in recognising and nurturing children’s spiritual potential, extends beyond the peaceful confines of our homes and churches. It demands active engagement even in the most challenging circumstances, such as during disasters and wars. In these situations, the command to let children come to Him takes on a poignant urgency as these young lives face threats that can deeply impact their physical safety and spiritual well-being.
In homes, integrating faith into daily life, as advised in Deuteronomy 6:7, becomes a grounding force. Amidst turmoil, the consistent conversation about God’s commandments provides children with a sense of stability and hope. This ongoing dialogue, whether in moments of peace or times of crisis, helps embed spiritual values deeply, making faith a comforting and guiding presence.
Churches and faith communities, in this context, have a crucial role. They should be sanctuaries where children find safety, support, and a sense of normalcy in turbulent times. Faith communities can offer practical support, such as resources, safe spaces, and emotional and spiritual care, helping children process their experiences in light of God’s enduring love and care.
The responsibility also extends to protecting children in times of disaster and conflict. Children are also vulnerable to physical and emotional abuse in their families or communities. They are prey to sexual predators that stalk the neighbourhoods and troll the internet. This means advocating for their safety, providing for their immediate needs, and ensuring they are not forgotten or neglected. It involves speaking out against injustices that endanger children and actively participating in or supporting relief efforts that prioritise their well-being. In doing so, we follow Christ’s example of compassion and care for the most vulnerable.
Furthermore, embodying child-like qualities in our faith journey—humility, simplicity, and trust—becomes even more crucial in these challenging situations. Our spiritual maturity is tested and refined as we seek to protect and nurture children in distress. We are called to trust in God’s providence and approach these daunting challenges with a heart full of faith and hope, qualities children often display even in the most challenging times.
To live Jesus’ command fully, therefore, is to adopt a holistic approach that not only nurtures and values children in times of peace but also actively protects and supports them in times of crisis. It is about creating environments where children feel valued, safe, and spiritually nourished regardless of the circumstances. This approach not only honours Jesus’ directive but also contributes significantly to the resilience and spiritual growth of the younger generation, shaping a future where the values of the Kingdom of God are vividly reflected.
Challenges and Solutions
In today’s digital era, adhering to Jesus’ command to let children come to Him faces additional complexities due to the pervasive influence of social media and technology. The digital landscape, while offering numerous benefits, also presents significant risks to children’s innocence and spiritual development. Exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and the development of an instant gratification mindset are just a few of the challenges that children encounter in the online world. These technological distractions can overshadow the fundamental teachings of faith and dilute the spiritual messages we strive to impart.
For parents and guardians, who are called in Ephesians 6:4 to be the primary spiritual educators of their children, navigating this digital terrain requires a nuanced approach. It’s essential to establish healthy boundaries and guidelines around the use of technology. This might include setting limits on screen time, monitoring online activities, and engaging in open discussions about the content they encounter online. Parents can guide children in using technology to align with Christian values, such as using digital platforms for learning, creativity, and positive communication.
Churches and faith communities can also play a supportive role in addressing the challenges posed by social media and technology. They can offer workshops or seminars for both parents and children on responsible technology use from a Christian perspective. These programs can cover topics such as online safety, discerning digital content, and maintaining a balanced life in a technology-driven world. Additionally, churches can leverage technology positively by creating online forums for spiritual discussion, offering digital resources for faith development, and using social media to connect with and engage young believers.
Moreover, the broader challenge involves creating a societal environment that understands and mitigates the risks associated with technology. Advocacy for safe and age-appropriate online content and support for policies protecting children’s online privacy and security is crucial. Communities can foster initiatives that promote outdoor activities, community service, and face-to-face interactions, which provide healthy alternatives to excessive screen time.
A collaborative, multi-faceted effort is needed to effectively manage the impact of social media and technology on children’s spiritual growth. Families, churches, and communities must work together to create a balanced approach that embraces the benefits of technology while safeguarding against its risks. By doing so, we not only adhere to Jesus’ command to let children come to Him but also equip the younger generation to navigate the digital world with wisdom, discernment, and a strong foundation of faith. This approach ensures that children grow into spiritually mature individuals capable of using technology for positive influence and Christian witness in the modern world.
The central takeaway is the importance of actively incorporating Jesus’ command to “let the little children come unto me” into our daily lives, especially in the modern context fraught with unique challenges. It calls for a deep commitment to nurturing children’s spiritual growth amidst the complexities of today’s world, including the pervasive influence of social media and technology. This involves protecting their innocence, guiding their faith journey and embracing and exemplifying child-like qualities of humility, trust, and simplicity in our spiritual lives.
As parents, guardians, and members of faith communities, we are reminded of our significant role in shaping the spiritual environment for the younger generation. We are called to be diligent in teaching God’s commandments, proactive in creating safe and nurturing spaces, and wise in navigating the digital landscape. The takeaway encourages a collective effort to foster a balanced approach that acknowledges the benefits of technology while safeguarding against its risks, ensuring that children grow in faith and character.
Ultimately, the message is one of hope and responsibility. By embracing this command of Christ and applying it in our contemporary context, we are not just obeying a biblical injunction but also investing in a future where the values of the Kingdom of God are vividly lived out and witnessed. This commitment paves the way for a generation of young believers who are spiritually equipped, morally grounded, and prepared to face life’s challenges with resilience and a deep sense of purpose.
Dear Lord, help us to heed Your call to welcome and nurture children in faith. Grant us the wisdom to guide them and the humility to learn from their simple trust. May our actions reflect Your love and lead the young ones closer to Your heart. Amen.
Don’t forget to sign up for the third seasonal retreat! On December 9, Christine Sine will lead a morning of scripture reading and quiet reflection that will be for many of us a much needed oasis of quiet in the midst of this chaotic season.
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