I grew up in Northern Minnesota where my dad was the pastor of two small churches. The names of the towns were Embarrass and Forbes. I don’t remember much about them except that they were small, rural, farming and iron mining communities. I do remember two things. The first is that all the people loved me. The women of he congregation loved to bake me cookies and the men taught me useful expressions in Finnish. The second thing I remember was a picture that hung in the Sunday school room. It depicted Jesus laughing heartily while playing with a group of children. I loved to look at this picture and imagine Jesus playing with me too.
We also sang a song that they probably don't sing much anymore. It was called, “Jesus loved the little children. One of the lines of the song went, “Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight.” I do remember wondering where all these red and yellow and black children keep themselves. The point of the song however was clear, Jesus loved children.
It is not that hard to find evidence in the Bible that Jesus was a great teacher. Even Jewish Biblical scholars who do not believe Jesus to be the promised Messiah, agree that he was an amazing teacher. One of the things that made Him great was his ability to meet and teach people on their level. When discussing matters of Jewish law with scholars, he was able to captivate them and amaze them with his knowledge and skill. When he talked with common folk, he used stories and parables from their daily lives to open their minds in new ways to understand themselves and God.
Jesus understood that faith is a lifelong journey. At different times and places in our lives we all have different needs. Children as well as adults need to feel respected and loved. They also need to be challenged and encouraged. The core message of the Gospel that Jesus lived was, to love God and love your neighbor. As the church, God calls us to be a loving and accepting community. We all don’t have to know or believe the same things. We all have different gifts and struggles. Of most importance is that by our actions and interactions we witness to Gods love in our lives in a way that translates to all who cross our path.