From the Rector
Proper 12: Children and Generosity
We’ll hear one of my favorite stories from Scripture this weekend, and the only story told in all four gospels: the feeding of the 5,000. John does an especially great job telling this story, as he includes an important detail that the other versions lack, namely, where the loaves and fish came from that Jesus multiplied to feed the crowd. Apparently, the only person who remembered to pack a lunch that day (or perhaps he was the only one willing to share what he had brought!) was a young boy. And that child’s generosity, that child’s willingness to share what he had, became the foundation for Christ’s miraculous work.
It is a holy example of the courage and faith of children, and their ability to serve as our spiritual mentors. I am tremendously thankful for the leadership of Cindy Hauser, who directs our ministries for children at Transfiguration. What I appreciate most about Cindy is that she takes children’s faith seriously, and she recognizes that kids are not merely cute puppets we bring out for photo ops, nor are they simply “the future of our church,” as though their value to our church will only be realized when they eventually “grow up.” Cindy knows that kids are windows into God’s heart, and that when Jesus instructed the disciples to “let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs (Mark 10:14),” it was a declaration about the value of all children in all places and at all times.
Like I said, kids can be profound spiritual mentors. In my experience, kids are far more likely to give freely and sacrificially. I have heard so many stories of kids who give every cent of their allowance away to someone in need or to a cause they believe in, and they do it just like that boy gave away his loaves and fish. Most adults I know want to study their giving, measure the cost-benefit, make sure it is truly deserved and maximally impactful. But when I observe children, I see that they don’t assume their contribution will solve every problem or be used precisely how they would want; they are content to simply be generous, trusting that the act of sharing with others is just the right thing to do.
I wish more of us would embrace this childlikeness, and model our lives on the example of that little boy. Just like him, we can’t expect that our individual giving will be enough to solve every problem or fund every program. Yet, when we generously give what we have away, rather than hedging our bets and holding things back, we discover that Christ can do with it “infinitely more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:201-21).”
I invite you to pray today for the wisdom and faith of that little boy. Pray that the holy impulse to share and give would overcome the lure of cynicism and fear. Pray that the example of generous kids would be more than just fodder for cute stories, but inspiration for mature faith. The answer to such prayer would certainly do significant good for our church’s ability to feed the proverbial multitudes, but I know it will also help all of us better hear Jesus speaking his holy invitation to come to him, for to “such as these belongs the kingdom of God.”