Jesus had time for children. He welcomed them with open arms even though His disciples thought that Jesus had more important things to do. He didn’t allow the tasks of His day or the demand of the crowd to keep Him from spending time with children. Jesus placed a high value on loving and welcoming children.
How can I welcome the children around me? Thinking about this story again this week made me stop and think, “What does it really mean to welcome children today? How do we welcome children when for months we have been social distancing and kids have even been going to school on Zoom?”
To adequately answer that question, first of all, decide what role you play when it comes to the children your life. Are you a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a grandparent, auntie, a neighbor or perhaps a dentist or a doctor. Whoever you are, you probably have at least one child in your life that’s watching you and wondering, “When do I get to spend time with _____ (fill in the blank)?”
Stop for a minute and think of the children in your life. I have many children in my life. I’m a parent, although my kids are no longer kids. I’m a grandparent, an aunt, a teacher, both on Zoom and live, and I volunteer in Kid’s ministry at my church. I have many opportunities to welcome children and chances are so do you.
Back to the question, “What does it meant to welcome children today?” If you are a teacher, you are probably trying to connect with students online right now which can be a little frustrating at times. How do you know what your student is feeling, hearing and thinking about when they are online? It can be tough to decipher all these things. Are they being bullied? Do they feel overwhelmed? Are they falling behind? I have the privilege of teaching one on one on Zoom as I am a piano teacher, but even then, I don’t always cue in to what my students are feeling. I’m constantly asking God for wisdom to know how to help each one of them. One small way I welcome my students online is to simply take a moment to chat with them before I begin their lesson. I ask about their day, what their favorite school subject is and if they have anything fun they have done lately. Those couple of minutes helps me know how they are feeling that day and gives them a chance to just talk to someone.
What about welcoming kids at our churches and day care centers as many are now reopening for kid’s classes? A couple of things that our church is doing to make it safe and welcoming for small children is to communicate with parents on what our new Covid related policies are. We also have greeters that walk the kids back to their classrooms and we let the kids pick out a sticker when they arrive.
As parents loving and welcoming your children simply means letting them know that they are special to you. Spend time with them. Lay aside some tasks to spend time with your kids because time matters and it slips through our fingers so quickly.
Welcoming children is no easy task right now. It takes extra planning, extra patience and extra awareness. Parents, I truly empathize with those of you who are working from home and also helping your kids with their schooling online. I know you need some moments to be able to focus clearly and some time to get your work done without interruption, but do carve out some time to play in your day too. It will refresh you and your kids. Welcoming children means being kind, courteous and aware of their needs. It means taking time to value children because Jesus did.
God, I do want to love and welcome children, my own, the kids at church and kids around the world. Show me (us) ways I (we) can get involved in welcoming children. Thank you that you love kids. You are amazing God. I’m so glad you love kids, even big kids like me. Amen
WELCOMING KIDS AT CHURCH
* Let the kids know that Jesus welcomes them. He loves them and He is always available even when mom and dad can’t be.
* Make sure you are maintaining a safe and clean environment. Disinfect toys and other items after each class time. All volunteers should wear face masks. When parents know you are doing everything you can to keep their kids safe, they feel welcomed too.
* Communicate with parents your safety and cleanliness policies.
* Elbow bumps are still okay – at least I think.
* Do temperature checks.
* With social distancing, hugs and high fives may be discouraged, but you can still look each child in the eye and greet him or her. Let him or her know you are glad to see him/her.
* Honor the parents too, by thinking through what their preferences might be. Let’s face it, there are quite few different opinions on social distancing, masking up and Covid protocol in general. Some people are very uncomfortable being in a social setting at all and others would love to throw caution to the wind and hug everyone in sight. Even if you are one of the ones who wants to throw caution to the wind, think of how that first time parent might feel. Be courteous to their feelings and let them know that you will be careful in caring for their child. Let them know that you are doing everything you can to insure their child remains healthy and well.
* Have stations with hand sanitizer that kids, parents and volunteers can use.
* Minimize the toys in the classroom and try to have toys that can easily be disinfected.
* Perhaps one of the greatest ways we can show children that they are loved and welcomed is by listening. Give them the gift of your undivided attention and truly listen.
To Do With Your Child
SHARE A STORY: Jesus Welcome Children – Luke 18:15-17Luke 18:15-17
Some moms brought their kids to Jesus,
Kids who liked to run, jump and play. (Stand up, run in place and jump.)
Some were tall and some were short, (Reach up high, then down low.)
But all wanted to see Jesus that day. (Say, “Yeah!”)
They tried to get to Jesus,
But His helpers said, “No way!“ (Hold up hand to say, “Stop!”)
Jesus is too busy for children today,
He has more important things to do,
So take your little ones away.” (Look sad.)
But Jesus said, “No wait! (Hold up hand to say, “Wait!”)
Don’t send the children away, (Shake head.)
I want them to come to me, (Beckon with hands to say, “Come.”)
I am not too busy for them today.”
Jesus hugged the children, (Give hug.)
And sat them on His knee. (Give self a hug and sit down.)
He loved those little children, (Put hands on heart.)
Just like He loves you and me. (Point to yourself and outwards.)
Jesus welcomed the children, (Beckon with hands to say, “Come.”)
He wanted everyone to know, (Touch fingers of hands to temples.)
That God welcomes little children, (Beckon with hands to say, “Come.”)
Because He loves them so. (Place hands on heart.)
Jesus welcomed the kids to come to Him and Jesus loves and welcomes you too. He loves you a whole lot. He wants to be your very best friend. He wants you to love and talk to Him everyday.
Thank you for loving me and being my friend. I love you and I’m glad that you have time for me. Help me to love others just like you love me. Amen
KNOW: Jesus loves and welcomes children.
TALK ABOUT: Jesus is my friend.
ASK: Who loves you? Jesus loves me.
AND DO: I can love others because Jesus loves me.
MEMORIZE: 1 John 4:19 — (Hold hands open as though holding a book.)
We love – (Give self a hug.)
Because He – (Point up.)
Loved us – (Give self a hug.)
First – (Show one finger.)
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
- * Talk to Jesus in prayer.
* Play with your child – let him or her decide what you will play. When finished playing say, “I love you and Jesus loves you.”
* Let your child talk to a friend on the phone.
* Read a Bible story to your child.