Saturday, April 6, 2013

Make that Kid a Doctor of Theology

Martin Luther wrote in the Smalcald Articles, concerning the Church that, "Thank God, a seven-year-old child knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd" (SA, Part 3, Article XII, 2).

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and the follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:27-28).

The more time I spend with the pre-schoolers during Redeemer's weekly chapels and talking with them around the playground, the more I come to appreciate these words of Luther. And the more I come to realize how greatly adults take for granted - and even dare to look down - upon this child-like faith. It's easy for adults to forget that faith is a gift, not some kind of intellectual, emotional, psychological (or any other kind of adjectival) effort on our part. "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to Him..."

Ultimately Luther's words reflect Jesus' Words. That's what faithful sheep of the Shepherd do. They listen and they follow. They hear and confess. What a delight and sublime joy it is to hear the confession of these little ones, especially when they put their confession down with crayons. The picture below depicts exactly what I'm writing about. The artist is one of the kindergartners in my sister's class where she teaches at Amazing Grace Lutheran School in Renton, WA.

In hued, waxen prose, this kindergartner illustrated an Old Testament Christological masterpiece. Too many Christians find it hard - if not nearly impossible - to find Jesus in the Old Testament. And yet, this kindergartner gets it far better than many adults no doubt. Jesus isn't just some thread in the Old Testament; He is the Old Testament, every jot and tittle. There's the ark, the animals, and the bow in the sky. And there, standing as a captain before the bow of His ship, stands Jesus. This little sheep has confessed well, even if it was in crayolas. If Christ was the rock and Israel was baptized in the sea, then He was also the captain of the holy ark that saved Noah and eight souls in all, rescuing them. They were saved through water. Sound familiar? It should. This is a picture of your salvation, the flood of forgiveness you receive. Your deliverance through water and your entry into the Holy Ark of the Christian Church.
That's what leads to such a beautifully painted confession of faith: Baptism. In the font, sinners are made saints, goats transform into sheep, rebellious children of Adam become children of the Heavenly Father. Rising up from the water we cry, "Abba, Father!" We confess with our lips. And sometimes we confess as we color. God's own child I gladly say it, I am baptized into Christ!
Thank God for this little one's confession. For in this picture we see Jesus' words to His disciples after His resurrection come to life: "The books of Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets...testify to Me!" And out of the mouth (and hands) of babes, Your praises are confessed. So, make that kid a doctor of theology. She gets it. The Old Testament - indeed, all of Scripture, it's center and circumference - is about Jesus crucified and risen for you. 
May we be so bold with our lips as this little one was with her hands.
Water, blood, and Spirit crying,
By their witness testifying
To the One whose death defying
Life has come, with life for all.
In a watery grave are buried
All our sins that Jesus carried;
Christ, the Ark of Life, has ferried
Us across death's raging flood.
Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying - LSB 597:2-3

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