John 4 31-38
As a children’s worker I have had the privilege of sharing our faith with children, often in a variety of ways. We try to make our sessions fun, finding new ways of telling the same stories. I don’t know about anyone else but being a children’s worker or minister to me was very exciting, I was so passionate about sharing my faith that it felt at times like it bubbled out of me.
I loved when the children really understood, and grasped the meaning or asked difficult questions. I remember once leading a confirmation class, and I had one child about 11 who every session asked questions. It was brilliant and it opened the door for the other children to question as well.
In our reading today, Jesus was so excited about sharing his faith with the woman at the well, (this happened just before our passage) Jesus just couldn’t eat. The disciples were convinced he had already eaten. But Jesus had just had a conversation that he knew would change someone’s life. The disciples had just been to the market to get food, but Jesus told them he wasn’t hungry.
The disciples were a bit confused – what did Jesus mean? Had he already eaten? Had someone else already brought him food.
Jesus had been fed a spiritual meal and he was trying to communicate to the disciples that the spiritual was more important than the food we eat.
Maybe Jesus was just so eager to get on with the task – it was almost as if he was saying ‘We don’t have time to eat’.
Jesus went on to talk about the harvest, that it was ready for the picking NOW. That they shouldn’t wait.
Too often we wait to plant the seeds; for many churches the biggest excuse is money. "We don’t have money to pay a worker to go into schools or lead Sunday club" or "it’s someone else’s job". "We simply don’t have the resources".
Then the churches wonder where the children are?
Who's responsibility is it to share their faith with the children?
I considered this a few years ago and came to the conclusion that parents these days and even grandparents have not grown up within the church, hearing the bible stories and attending church.
For many, church isn’t important which makes our task of teaching and educating the children even more important and vital if our Christian faith is to remain alive, relevant and growing.
And what a wonderful feeling it is watching the children grow and develop through the church groups and then accompanying them through their confirmation classes.
When the day arrives for their confirmation service another step in declaring their faith for themselves such joy overwhelms me.
I remember a few years ago one of the mum’s that helped regularly with Sunday club after a bit of persuasion decided to go to confirmation classes and be confirmed. I felt very fulfilled. But that is not where it ended because she then became a children’s worker herself. I couldn’t have been more pleased, whilst still a young Christian I knew through teaching, she herself would grow her faith as I did.
But even when we do have the resources, we are only planting seeds, watering them generously and watching for signs of growth. Very often though the seeds we plant are not harvested by us, many children turn into teenagers rebelling... ‘finding themselves’. But if we give them a positive experience of church as they get older and begin to think about marriage and children they do come back.
If you ask a group of couples preparing to get married why they want to get married in the church, it usually stems back to when they were a child. The same goes for baptism. So, it really is important to plant those seeds even if they are harvested by someone else.
In this passage is a message for all those with a Christian faith – Just as Jesus wanted his disciples to know just how important it is to plant those seeds, so I urge you.. no matter how small your congregation, or how few resources you have, find away of planting seeds of faith.
There are so many ways in which we can reach out.
- Bake a cake for the staff at school.
- Go into the school and read with the children.
- Pray for the school and let them know that is what your doing.
(Libby Leech - Lichfield Diocese calls this ‘pray, bake,read’)
- Get together as a group, (no matter how old or young) and use the Open the book assemblies to tell the children the stories of the bible.
- Hold an Easter Egg hunt and tell the story of Easter.
- Have a ‘find the Angel’ around the place where you live.
- There are so small ways that could have a huge impact.