"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Engrossed in conversations of four-year-olds, a soft tap, tap on my back interrupted my listening. I turned and was greeted by a smiling, wide-eyed boy holding up a red cookie tin in my direction. Atop, it was adorned with three little "love notes" scribbled in his own penmanship, illustrations and all!
"These are for you Mrs. Aldrich," he proudly boasted. "Wow! Thank you!" I said. "May I share them with the other teachers, too?" He nodded his approval and gave me a great big hug around the waist before he toddled off to play. With a heart filled with awe at his thoughtfulness, my steps around the classroom were a bit lighter that morning.
It was also the last day of school for one of the little girls. At the end of the day we gathered around her, sang her our good-bye song, and wished her luck as she and her family moved south. The children, seemingly unaffected, skipped off to their familiar spots at the tables, anticipating the arrival of their parents. As the sea of faces poured into the room, the noise level elevated with squeals and cheers as each child found those familiar eyes of mommy, daddy and grandma.
Then through the noise, one dear little girl hushed the room with her whisper, "I need to give her a hug!" (referring to her classmate that was moving).
As she embraced her little classmate for the last time, one-by-one all 24 remaining classmates joined in, until she was surrounded by one enormous group hug! At that moment I lost it! My eyes filled tears and my heart swelled with awe at their overwhelming, impromptu expression of love.
Jesus challenges us to love like these little ones love; honestly, openly, overwhelmingly, purely, unconditionally because they show us what God's kingdom is like! (Matthew 19:13-15). They're the princes and princesses of His kingdom. Who would ever shoo the king's children away?
This story in Matthew tells us that his disciples almost did. And, dare I suggest, many of us would have done the same in Jesus' presence. But, this snippet of Jesus' life shows us that he welcomed the tap, tap of little hands on is back, the hugs and giggles of the wide-eyed children all around him that just wanted to give him a love note. He welcomes our shoulder taps, too and welcomes us to sit on his lap, whenever we need to. We need never fear rejection or delay. He's always there, beckoning us to come.