My oldest son participated in the school walkout yesterday at his high school in North Charleston. Protest and demonstrating has long been a part of his life – he attended his first vigil against the war in Iraq when he was just three months old. As a veteran of marches, vigils, protests, and pray-ins, I was secretly delighted when he told me he was joining his fellow students in using his body as a way to cry out for greater school safety, an end to gun violence and to remember those who had died.
What impressed me the most, however, is the power and resolve of students to raise their voices and make demands of the adults who are charged with keeping them safe. This youth-led movement isn’t new; the young have always been at the forefront of our movements for social justice and social change. Young men and women were the ones who endured the abuse, beatings, and arrests at lunch counter sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement. Young people protested the ongoing violence of the Vietnam War. Young people have overwhelmingly been the casualties of war, street shootouts, the water crisis in Flint, the murder of unarmed African-Americans, the opioid and crack epidemics, and their voices of hard-won experience are the ones who continually cry out for justice.
Jesus said to his followers in a short but powerful moment in Matthew 19, as children were approaching him, and his disciples were silencing their clamors: “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children” (verse 14, Common English Bible). Jesus wasn’t being kind or polite when he welcomed the children. He wasn’t having a bad day and needed a hug. By lifting up the character, role and unrestrained energy of children as the very center of God’s kingdom and reign, Jesus was saying, “Listen to them. Here. Now. Their voices, their cries, their desires, and dreams are the ones close to the heart of God.”
At Two Rivers Church, we love children. In their actions, we see our values of beauty, authenticity, creativity, vulnerability and inclusivity on full display. We love them so much that we listen to them when they cry out for protection, safety and love. We give ourselves to them by creating space for our children to learn about God’s story in scripture, to receive the living Christ in communion, to worship by singing and dancing and drawing, and to question, wonder and grow in small groups.
Are you looking for a place where the fullness of your children is not only tolerated but welcomed? Are you searching for a community that centers your children as prophets among us, bearers of the good news of Jesus’ love and beautiful and beloved sons and daughters of God? If so, we have a place for you at Two Rivers Church.