I was shopping for groceries recently when a lady shoved a can of biscuits at me and asked, “Have you had these before?” Not really knowing what she was asking, I disclaimed, “I haven’t had that brand of biscuit before.” She said, “Me neither, but I need the cheapest ones for VBS.” I was intrigued and asked, “Does your church have a small budget for VBS?” She said, “Oh no. We have money in the fund, but these biscuits are for the kids, and the cheapest ones will be fine.” I had a different opinion, but she was filling her cart with cans and cans of the cheapest biscuits available.
A couple of days later, I was helping with the ice cream social for my daughter’s homeroom class and was tasked with setting out the ice cream toppings. The teacher handed me a bushel-sized bag filled with name brand gummy bears, syrups, whipped cream, cookies, and candies. I organized the toppings that the teacher had purchased on a six-foot table, and before I started scooping ice cream, I commented to the teacher, “Ms. L, you have provided a generous spread for the kids.” She replied, “These are my kids, and I want them to have the good stuff and plenty of it.”
In one week I had encountered someone who believed the barest minimum would do and another who showed largess and graciousness. Both were doing this “for the children.”
Envision Jesus sitting on a hillside and sharing the attributes of the kingdom of God when here come parents with unruly, loud, impatient children. Can you imagine Jesus calling out, “Andrew! Go get Peter. He’s seen me bless people. Have him start blessing these children. Peter will do for the kids.” But that’s not how the story goes. Jesus blessed the children. Jesus’ attitude was one of welcome, inclusion, and value.
In one episode of the popular television series, Downton Abbey, the owners of the estate host the church bizarre. During the episode, the butler, Charles Carson, chides a footman, “Anything shabby reflects poorly on the estate.” For many townspeople, the bizarre was the only time they came to the estate, and Carson thought it important to treat the townspeople as valued, wanted, and included. Mrs. Patmore, the head cook on the estate, could have put out store bought butter cookies and Kool-Aid, but instead she served fresh lemonade and home-baked pastries. A little would have been enough, but graciousness was more appropriate.
Our offerings and preparations reflect our attitude. As summer children’s activities and Vacation Bible Schools kick off, I hope children are blessed with the gift of being wanted, included, and valued and that all of our events and gatherings will be wrapped in an attitude of blessing the children.
Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.