When Babies Cry In Church

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14)

On Sunday, I was offering the prayers of the church on behalf of the congregation. Sometimes it’s pretty quiet during that time as those in attendance are listening carefully and adding their ascent to each prayer. This past Sunday, it was not quiet. In my left ear there was a baby crying. In my right ear there was a baby crying. From somewhere behind me there were two or three other young children crying. To the cacophony of noise was my voice, crying out the pleas and petitions of our congregation to our gracious and merciful Lord. It was beautiful!

I love the sound of little voices in church. Small people who come because their parents know and place a premium on the value of what Jesus offers us – ALL OF US – in that place. Small children rattling papers and ruffling hymnal pages while trying to do what mom and dad and grandma and grandpa are doing. Faithful youngsters who bravely discuss the faith with pastor during our children’s messages. Confident little Christians who may not get all the words right, but put their heart into praying the Lord’s Prayer together with the congregation.

I even love it when the children get bored. Tired of what has to seem to them the droning on of a long-winded preacher. Who plop down in frustration when they just can’t take it anymore. I love it because they’re there. They’re right where Jesus would have them be. Climbing up on His holy lap and listening as well as a child can. I love the sounds of children in church, not because they’re the future church (although they are that), but because they are the present church joining together as best they can with the rest of the church. As loud as it can sometimes get, I absolutely love the cries and shouts and screams and even the occasional tantrum because in a real way, that’s exactly what we all have to offer our Lord. Our tears, our shouts of “unfair”, our fears, and even an occasional tantrum. Jesus never kicked a child out of His presence, but instead lauded them as the example of greatness.

Our children come, just as we adults do, into the presence of Jesus. We have nothing to offer Him. We simply have the sins we’ve committed, the hurts we harbor, the anger we’ve buried, the sadness we’ve hidden, and little more. As a baby is dependent on her mom and dad to take care of her and teach her, so we depend on our Father to hear and love us.

So I say let the little children come . . . and let them cry! Let them raise their voices! Little loved voices from little loved people. Sinners, like you and me; forgiven by Jesus, like you and me! Let us in fact join our voices with the cries of the babies in church as we cry out for mercy and forgiveness from our Lord for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Merciful Father, hear the cries of all your children. Thank you for hearing us and welcoming us into your presence through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

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No Division

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

In a culture where even our divisions have divisions, Paul’s words to the Corinthians may appear as impossible to you as it did to those who first heard him. Over the course of time, we’ve divided ourselves into neat boxes; handy categories. Either you’re a Republican or a Democrat. You’re either straight or gay. You’re pro-life or you’re pro-choice. You’re either completely for the president and his policies or you’re completely opposed to them. Nice little convenient divisions, wouldn’t you say? And that’s just our politics!

Now consider the church. The place where Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians should ring through most clearly. Yet they don’t seem to. Often it isn’t the Word of God alone that governs our lives or our theology. We frequently believe ourselves wise enough to add to or take away from His word. Or perhaps we think we can climb into the mind of the Lord and ascertain what He “really means” by what He says.

We are a divided people. And that’s no good. Jesus would have us unified. Is Christ divided? Does He say one thing and do another? Does He categorize everyone into nifty little packages and set us aside until He has use for us? No way! The only division Jesus is okay with is the division between the “sheep” and the “goats”; between the redeemed and those who have rejected Him. You are either for Jesus or you are against Him. This division cuts to the heart of the matter.

Those who are in Christ are united. Christ has banded us together from all time and all places. A rag-tag group of sinners made right by the power of His shed blood. And it’s in that very blood we are given unity. In the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, we become one. Just as Jesus is one with His Father and we are all one with Jesus, so He makes us one together in His name.

Unity is not agreeing to disagree. Unity is Christ bringing us together in His Word and His Sacraments. Unity is not coexistence. Unity is Christ alone forgiving us all our sins for the sake of His sacrifice on the cross. Unity is not quietly holding grudges. Unity is brothers and sisters in Christ shoulder to shoulder at the altar receiving the goods as only Jesus can provide.

That we would strive toward unity in the Truth revealed to us by God’s own words. That all disputes, especially those in the church, would be seen in the light of His Word. That we would submit to the authority of our Lord. That all brokenness and disunity would be healed and restored by Jesus. O, that He would bring about His perfect unity among us!

Even in the midst of a culture that has lost all desire for unity, Christ and His church shine brightly as He creates unity and keeps us unified in Him. May we be of one mind; Christ’s mind!

Lord Jesus, try as we might, we are unable to bring forth true unity. For this we rely on you. Therefore, unify us in your Word and Truth! Amen.