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- December 27, 2015 -

Listen to the Children

For Sunday, December 27, 2015 – Luke 2:41-52

Earlier in December a friend’s young granddaughter woke up to find her world draped in a fresh coat of snow. She tumbled out of bed, dressed herself and headed outdoors to play in the deep white wonder. Without a whisper, she was gone. No one else knew where she was going or what she was doing, despite the one foundational rule in her family: “Always tell someone where you are.” Without warning she slipped the “surly bonds” of obligation and entered the hushed temple. Later they found her outside, cold, happy and unaware. When reminded of their family rule, she agreed she had pretty much failed. “The snow was just so beautiful,” she said. “I guess I lost my mind.”

“Child, why have you treated us like this?” Mary asks Jesus, exhausted from worry and three harrowing days of his being lost to them. Now here he is, happily listening to and questioning the elders in the temple. The common idea is that children have much to learn from us, and should be always taking our direction and listening to our wisdom, but we adults have much to learn from and about our children as well. What a difference it makes to pause and listen. What might they be trying to communicate through their wayward words and actions? What looks like mischief might be an emerging creativity; what sounds like ‘talking back’ could be the clumsy beginnings of deeply felt expression; what seem to be displays of disobedience might be signs of their listening to inner guidance. Or not. We can never be sure. We can only be companions to the mystery, a steady presence, guiding by walking alongside.

“Why were you searching for me?” Jesus asks his bewildered parents. “Did you not know where I must be?” To really know the children in our lives is to search continually for them, to lose sight and then to rediscover who they are now. It is to want to know them more, to ask them what matters most, to listen at least as much as we talk. To know them is to enter the temple of their lives and care about their worries and wonders. Because children are not only our future . . . children are our right now. We need each other. What they see and say matter. We are called to do God’s business together.

Season and Scripture: ,

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