say what you see

The TV show Catchphrase is based on cryptic visual clues to well known words and phrases. It has its own catchphrase – “Say what you see.” But outside of TV shows politeness and manners seem to prevent us from being quite so forward. Unless you are a child.

I was visiting a couple in the evening recently to discuss their call to Baptist Ministry. When I arrived Dad was upstairs settling the two children into bed. I was shown into the lounge by Mum. While we waited for Dad to finish we heard small footsteps on the stairs and their seven-year-old son appeared in the doorway, informing us that his Dad had given him permission to come downstairs to see who had arrived. He took one look at me and said:

“I didn’t know you were bald!”

I was rather surprised – not as his observational skills but at his forwardness. I struggled to think of a good reply. The best I came up with was:

“I didn’t know you had hair.”

The instant reply came:

“I didn’t know you had ears!”

If I am honest I didn’t quite hear him so I just laughed. (If I had heard I would probably have explained that if I didn’t have ears my glasses would fall off.) After this Mum shooed him off to bed, presumably before he could make any other statements.

I found it hilarious that the young boy was so unafraid to say what was on his mind. He had none of the grown-up filters that we often apply (and which internet trolls seem unable to access) and simply said what he was thinking.

It reminded me this week of the moment when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. There was a mahoosive celebration going on that annoyed the religious leaders who were busy trying to plot Jesus’ downfall. Matthew tells us that when Jesus got to the Temple (the centre of Jewish worship in his day) he cleared out the courtyard that had been turned into a marketplace and healed people. There were some children there and they were shouting what they had heard the crowd chanting earlier: “Hosanna to the Son of David.”*

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.

“Yes,” replied Jesus, “Have you never read: ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

The children were unafraid, perhaps unaware of hoiw inflammatory they were being. They were simply joining in. One of the things that I regret deeply is how in churches (and society) we still seem to want to shush children’s voices and don’t encourage them to speak their mind. Because when they do, sometimes we hear God speaking to us.

And I reckon God would much rather we spoke our mind than pretended with him. Say what you see.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

*This was not only a statement of praise, it was a revolutionary statement suggesting that Jesus was the one who was going to sort things out for God’s people.

freaking out a parent

girl with teddyI had a slightly freaky moment yesterday.

I was in the town centre (where our church is located) and walking along, minding my own business, when I heard a small voice enthusiastically say, “Hello!”

I looked down and there was a girl, probably about 7 years old, grinning and waving at me…

Immediately her horrified mother dragged her away, looking at me suspiciously. My knee-jerk response had been to say, “Hello,” (which I did) but before I could say anything else the moment and the family had passed.

You see the child was not from our church or connected to us. Her mother would have had no idea at all who this strange man was whom her daughter was joyfully greeting. I think, as I was still trying to work out what had happened, I heard her mother anxiously ask her who I was, but I didn’t hear the girl’s reply.

I suspect that the girl was someone who has been in the regular school assemblies I have taken at one of our local primary schools. She recognised me (even without Stew the Rabbit) and naturally wanted to greet me. To her it was the natural thing to do – I am part of her school experience. As far as she is concerned she knows me.

To her mother I am an unknown man whom her daughter was happily greeting in a way that may have aroused all sorts of fears… As far as she is concerned she doesn’t know me and she wants to know how her daughter does know me.

I am disappointed that the moment passed so quickly that I didn’t have an opportunity to explain myself and allay the mother’s fears. I am disappointed that I don’t know for sure where that young girl had met me.

But I hope and pray that God will redeem the situation. I hope and pray that the girl’s reply will have allayed her mother’s natural fears. I hope and pray that she may even have remembered something that Stew the Rabbit and I shared with the school about living as a follower of Jesus, and that she then shared that with her mother.

We must do all we can to protect our children and vulnerable adults from those who would exploit and harm them. But please God may we never find ourselves in a situation where childhood innocence, joy, exuberance and excitement are completely erased in a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to protect children.

After all, Jesus told adults to become like children, not the other way around!

Be blessed, be a blessing.