The prophet Isaiah describes the kingdom of heaven as a place where opposing forces coexist peacefully, led by a little child (Isaiah 11).
When Jesus was a child, he sat with the wise men in the temple, listening to and participating in their discussion (Luke 2).
Later in his ministry, Jesus prayed for a group of children in spite of the disciples’ discouragment — “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10).
As the parent of a 6-month-old boy, I’m tempted to say that the only direction my child leads me is out of bed in the middle of the night. But scripture and experience demonstrate that while this may be true now, it will not be true forever. Children are beacons of sincerity, faith, hope, and forgiveness. As Christ tells us, “these children are the very center of life in the kingdom.”
It is in this spirit that we welcome children to Sing a New Song 2011. While parents and caregivers are participating in programs and workshops, children ages 3-12 will explore what it means to be an ally to friends and classmates and to love ourselves just as God made us. My hope is that as these children walk alongside us, we may also allow them to teach us. As we dream together of a new song, may we listen to the voices of our children, and allow them to lead us.
Kate Clark is currently a day-time mom and night-time student in Madison, WI. After earning a degree from the University of Evansville. She has served as a US-2 Missionary in Denver, Colorado, and worked for two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer with young people in Southeastern Wisconsin. Kate is a trained facilitator for the Girl Scouts’ “Power Up!” anti-bullying program and American Friends Service Committee’s “Help Increase the Peace Project,” which focuses on nonviolence and team-building. She is now pursuing a K-8 teaching license from Cardinal Stritch University and looking forward to what new adventures lie ahead.