Seems an appropriate post-title on Christmas day. A child who grew in favour to become the Saviour of the world.
Earlier this year the shocking picture of the body of the Syrian three year old child washed up on the beach in Turkey provoked comments such as this one in the Indepndent:
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
In the immediate aftermath of that image there was a change. How deep, how long it will last, and how effective it will be is still to be seen.
The eschatological hope of reconciliation and the impact on Creation is summed up in Isaiah 11:6
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
And a little child will lead them. I add to that the answer to the question from the disciples as to ‘who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ In response Jesus
called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matt. 18:1-5).
We can have five year or ten year strategic plans but the future is always held hidden in the hearts of those who are young. A truly long-term strategic plan can only be unfolded if the future of the next and subsequent generations are considered. We think so short term. Here in Spain in a recent conversation with someone who is involved politically they told us that for those who are 55 and younger there will be no pensions for them when retirement comes. The money having been used to bail out the banks post-2008. It was proudly stated in the recent elections that the growing economy meant that ‘no-one is now talking of Spain needing a bail-out’. A so-called growing economy seemingly is the goal, but that hides a myriad of issues that will surface down the line. The recent global climate conference in Paris with all its compromises has to be applauded with its desire to give some hope to future generations.
So many movements have a focus on youth. Yet there is a difference between harnessing the energy and vitality of youth for a movement or releasing a generation that will change the face of a movement beyond recognition.
Do children know the way? No, they are likely to get us lost. Yet there is something in the vulnerability of being led by those who don’t know the way that exposes our desire for control and centralisation.
We are biased but we see Spain as facing issues that are larger than herself. And certainly in the closing days of this year, post-elections, and the opening days of next year the question that will have to be answered is what direction she will face. ‘And a child will lead them?’
So on this wonderful day a big honour to those whose focus, directly and indirectly, is on the next generation. Teachers, parents and youth-workers: thank you. And for the coming year to people like me, it is time to shift from all centres to the margins and be clothed in humility. Well that sets the agenda for me!!
Off at 4.00am tomorrow so will write again sometime before the beginning of the year.