I kick off my search for the Kingdom in the midst of gloom and doom with children (“…and a child shall lead them”.) Today is Halloween.
As a child I enjoyed Halloween for all the typical youthful reasons: I got to dress up in costume, pretend to be someone else for a little while, along with my fellow children we invaded the streets of Saint Albans and demanded candy from strangers who anted up, and gorged myself of goodies for days.
As an adult I enjoy Halloween because it is a day to celebrate children. We put them front and center and carve out a time in our day that we deem to be “just for them”. But up until I moved to Rivesville a little over two years ago, I had never lived in a place where trick-or-treaters actually came to my house. Since moving to Rivesville, though, I routinely have over a hundred kids show up at my door on Halloween.
This year I borrowed a large coffee maker from the church and offered hot cocoa to everyone who came by. I didn’t really expect many to take me up on the offer, but it turned out to be a big hit. Twice I ran out of hot water and was scrambling to get more made–and by the end of the night groups of kids were returning to my house to get hot cocoa before they headed home.
Every last one of them were friendly and thankful. Yes, even those without parents trailing them took the time to thank me and show appreciation for the gesture.
I couldn’t help but think about all the times I’ve been guilty of engaging in conversations that have turned into youth-bashing rants. You know the rants. They usually begin with something like, “Kids these days…” We complain about everything from the technology they use to the things they learn in school. Sometimes it seems as though children in our world just can’t do anything to please us.
But I watched as child after child smiled and laughed and showed gratitude. They certainly were not the ungrateful, spoiled brats we often accuse them of being. They were just young and filled with joy… and appreciative.
The last group who came down the street had circled around for the sole purpose of getting some hot chocolate. One of the girls smiled at the others and said, “See! I told you she was giving out hot chocolate!”
The problem was, I had run out. As I had to tell the kids that there was none left, that they had walked all the way back down the street for nothing, one of the boys said, “Well, thank you, anyway!” and the others chimed in with similar thanks.
Sometimes the most obvious evidence of the Kingdom is right there in front of us–in the things we are most likely to overlook or take for granted. Children are especially poignant reminders of a good and loving God. They are a promise of a future. They represent hope and innocence and all those things we are prone to losing as we grow. Through our children we catch a glimpse of the what lies ahead, and we get a reflection of ourselves too.
Tonight I saw a lot of hope for the future. And I saw a pleasant reflection of who we are as a society.
Children matter. Children are integral to the Kingdom. So, today, I celebrate the hope and joy the young people of this world bring us.