Never Grow Up
The other day when I was listening to a daily podcast that I use for prayer and reflection, the Scripture passage that was read really struck me. It came from Luke 10:21, and it reads like this:
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
I've read this verse many times, and the second part is familiar. It speaks to Jesus' efforts to use provocative language, plain-spoken stories, and everyday images to teach the truth of God's love in ways that everyone could grasp.
Even a little kid could get what Jesus was talking about.
But the first line of that verse is one that I can't recall ever seeing or thinking about before I heard it read on that podcast.
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit...
I have to say that it's pretty remarkable to think about Jesus being filled with joy because he was experiencing a Holy Spirit moment that warranted it. We don't often imagine Jesus this way.
And further, the very thing that filled him with joy was that God was doing some incredible inter-generational work regarding the message of God's love and inclusion.
It's no wonder that Jesus once told his followers, "Unless you become like a little child, you'll never fully understand the truth of God's kingdom."
The problem with most of us is that we've forgotten how to see God with childlike joy and enthusiasm. We've been programmed for lesser things and told they are the best.
Fr. Anthony de Mello once wrote:
Now this is exactly what society did to you when you were a child. You were not allowed to enjoy the solid, nutritious food of life: work, play and the company of people and the pleasures of the senses and the mind. You were given a taste of the drug called Approval, Appreciation, Attention, the drug called Success, Prestige, Power. Having got a taste for these things you became addicted and began to dread their loss.
Ouch. That lands on most of us, doesn't it? And it does so because we know that so much of our joie de vi·vre has been muted or banished. After all, we no longer see the world as we did when we were young because we had to grow up.
Listen, I'm not advocating for an abdication of responsibility here. So don't go to your partner and say, "I'm quitting my job, and I'm going to do whatever makes me happy---Pastor Leon said to do it!"
What I'm saying is that if, by growing up, we lose our ability to experience joy, abandon our sense of wonder, and give up on what it means to play, create and enjoy God and the world around us, maybe we shouldn't grow up all that much.
Maybe we should have the faith of a little child, the ability to see God in the ordinary, to find beauty in the broken, and to experience the Holy Spirit with an open mind and heart.
I feel like Jesus would approve this message... with joy.
May it be so for you today and every day from this day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.