I so love it when the children realise that one of the readings has a child in it. Suddenly the “penny drops” that these things we talk about each week might actually be valid for them too. The eyes light up, the mouth becomes excited and then the ears grow, ok, not really, but they want you to be quite so they can hear. I so love these moments, and in this weeks RCL readings there may very well be that excited moment for someone. The Loaves and fish’s story, this year from John, may well provide one of those moments.
What a mixed bag of readings in this weeks RCL! Not only do we have the loaves and fishes story, and Jesus appearing to the disciples while they are on the water, we also have the story of David and Bathsheba. I would imagine that most congregations with children will err towards the Gospel readings, while more elderly congregations may venture into the more racy issues of David.
This form of age discrimination, or censorship happens in many congregations.
Age appropriate issues aside, because we can retell a story such as the one of David and Bathsheba, without the detail that a 2 year doesn’t need to hear, we might all miss out on the underlying themes if we don’t share the bible stories. I’m not just suggesting that children might miss out on the understanding that the ultimate authority is God’s, as in the David and Bathsheba story, but what about what the adults get to hear.
There are many ways of engaging with the text, through the original words, the metaphors, the senses, the positioning of the story the comparison with similar passages, etc. But how about through the child in the story. In the story of the loaves and fishes. What do we see though the child’s eye? What does this story tell us about the Kingdom of God? Why is it that the child is the only one with food to give? As adults do we share as readily this child? If we are reading the child as pointing us to the Kingdom of God, especially as John deliberately refers to Jesus’s followers as the children of God, then what is the child showing us about how to live in the Kingdom? But by putting the “child in the middle” we are looking at the passage in the way the Child Theology Movement would have us read theology.
It is not just the children that should come alive in recognition of the stories, no we still have much to discover, through the child in the story.
Oh and by the way, there is a child, 2 in fact in the 2 Samual reading. What do we see of the story when we look at it through their eyes?
Maybe there is still much to learn, to make the adults eyes widen in the excitement of discovery.