Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Aug. 9, 2004. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.
When it comes to telling it like it is, move over, Dr. Phil — get a small child’s viewpoint.
This week, a friend e-mailed me several anecdotes about kids in church. Although they are humorous, each one has the makings of a fine sermon.
After the christening of his baby brother, Jason left church and sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Too choked up to answer for a while, the tot finally replied, “That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, but I really want to stay with you guys.”
A Sunday school teacher asked her pupils, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” One bright little girl answered, “Because some people are trying to sleep.”
A little boy was overheard praying, “Lord, if you can’t make me a better boy, it’s OK. I’m having a real good time like I am.”
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons — Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. They began to argue over who would get the first hot one off the griddle. Seizing the opportunity to teach a moral lesson, their mother said, “If Jesus were here, he would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake.’ We should follow His example.” Seizing the opportunity to apply the lesson, Kevin said to his younger brother, “OK, Ryan, you be Jesus.”
A 6-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother were sitting in church before the services began. Joel talked out loud, sang, fidgeted and squirmed. When his sister Angie had had enough, she told him to be quiet. “Why?” he asked. “See those big men standing at the back of the church? We don’t want them to come up here. They’re hushers.”
My favorite is one about a little girl trying to memorize the Lord’s prayer. Her mother thought the child had just about mastered it until she heard, “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive others who put trash in our baskets.”
There’s a lot of truth in this youngster’s misconception of what she had heard. We all have trash baskets full of bad attitudes, harsh words, unkind deeds and just plain apathy. We need to learn to empty our own trash baskets promptly and work consistently to keep them from filling up.
By the same token, we need to forgive others who put trash in our baskets. Gossip, spitefulness and godless conversations are trash we can do without. We need to become bolder about refusing someone else’s trash without becoming judgmental toward the person.
We need this little girl’s gentle reminder that we have enough trouble getting rid of our own trash without accepting more from others.