Children, Dentistry, and Diligence

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’
— Matthew 19:13,14
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
— Deuteronomy: 6:4-7
Do you the members of this congregation undertake with these parents the covenant responsibility for the Christian nurture of this child?
— Ch. 8 of our Directory for Public Worship

As I sat in the dentist’s chair this Monday morning for a scheduled teeth cleaning, I had some time to think. No matter how hard dental hygienists and dentists try, conversations cannot be held while someone has both hands on or in your mouth. So there I was. The lovely sound of metal scraping across my teeth set the tone of my thoughts as I lulled into a stream of thought moment. Y’all know what I’m talking about, right? Scrape. Scrape. Scraaaaape. Hmmmm. Mary Emmaline did so good when she came to the dentist last week. Scrape. Scrape. Scraaaaape. I can’t believe Mary Emmaline scraped her knee at the zoo the other day. The other day. The other day. Hmmmm. That youth group meeting the other day was really cool. Really cool. Really cool. Hmmmm. I’m so cool. Okay, okay, I threw that last part in to see if you were still with me. But the other parts went just like that! I was thinking of my own children, of our covenant children at church, and then that crazily combined with dentistry!

I realized that the desire of a dentist (a good one at least) was a pretty good illustration for the church’s desire for our children. My dental hygienist always exhorts me to diligence throughout the six months that I will be away from her. She tells me to remember to brush and floss every day. Yet even so, she also schedules my next appointment, so it can be on the calendar. And even beyond that, if there are complications before the six months are up, she tells me to call the office. They’ll fit me in, so whatever complication can be addressed by her or the dentist.

Jesus loves the little children. He wanted them to come to him (more than every six months of course!). In the midst of that, there is an expectation from God that believing parents of children would be diligent to tell them about God every day. Even so, God created a community called the church that parents and children find themselves in. When they come in for a “checkup,” both parents and children receive the Gospel in Word and deed. This is done on a larger scale (Sunday School programs, the Worship service, and so on), but it is also done through simple yet profound service opportunities (nursery, Children’s Church, youth group volunteers, and so on). We as a body take a vow before God regarding our covenant children, and we’re taking that vow seriously at Centennial!

My prayer is that God would continue to grow our desire to serve our youngest generation. May we never turn away little ones but call for them to come. May we maintain diligence both in our homes (if you have children) and at church (where you vowed before God that you do). And may God be glorified in it all. Midweek blessings to you all.