Remembering the joy of play
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14
At Bible Day Camp a few weeks ago, these two sweet young children came to my office with their counselor. They had something in their hands, but they were afraid to give it to me.
With meekness and gentleness, they both handed me their cards. One card told the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. The other one said she was glad I was her pastor and she thought Jesus was happy about that, too.
As the kids ran around the building and made the day seem to go so quickly, I was filled with joy. The gifts and encouragements children give us, I believe, are truly a gift from God. They remind us what it means to have a pure faith, not with all the questions and agendas we as adults seem to bring with us when we attempt to connect with God.
Their ability to laugh, smile and be delighted by the small things is a reminder for us.
Perhaps when we desire the biggest, best and latest stuff, we need only to hang out with the campers for a little while to be reminded of what is truly important. We will be reminded we can have a great time playing with just a cardboard box -- and the important thing is the playing and enjoyment, not the item.
As I watched the campers' delight in the simple things, I was reminded of my best Christmas present I ever received. It was several boxes of colored Kleenex-like tissue and several rolls of Scotch Tape. The first thing I thought was, wow, I had new clothes for my Barbie for the next six months. The outfits I made with tissues and tape, of course, were only a one-time use, but what fun I had designing and being creative.
I think it would be good for all of us as adults to go to a summer day camp, even for one day. We might be able to be reminded of the sheer joy of life, the joy of community, the joy of play. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, ask a child if they will play with you -- get out a cardboard box and just be. The next time you wish you had more stuff, look at a toddler who has many toys, but chooses the pots and pans in the kitchen for entertainment.
Enjoy the summer. Enjoy the children around you this summer.
Allow them to help you recapture pure joy, a sense of adventure not matter the place, let them lead you to the Jesus they know, the one that loves them no matter who they are, what they have or what they have done.
May you re-experience the good things of childhood this summer.
Lesley Radius is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hays.