Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way. – Matthew 19:14-15 (NRSV)
The locals in our area will tell you (with a grumble) that there are a few sure-fire ways to know the college kids are back:
More traffic. Target’s overflowing parking lot. A spike in beer sales and, increasingly, legal marijuana sales. Sheer pandemonium at Trader Joe’s, and a mosh pit three-people deep at the Whole Foods yogurt section.
But one doesn’t have to be a shopper, driver, or partier to know that something is different in an area that boasts not one but five institutions of higher learning:
There’s new energy and excitement in the air. The streets that were all but deserted are now bustling with activity. Our sleepy little towns have awakened with a joyful roar.
And at our church it’s entirely possible that a sign or banner will go missing —sometimes to be returned (perhaps with a note saying “Lost a drunken bet. Sorry!”) and other times not.
Because college students are not the “little children” of the Gospels and rarely flock to our congregations, we might think Jesus’s admonition doesn’t apply. But nothing could be further from the truth.
It is to these beloved children of God that the realm of God and the church belong. It is these stressed-out, searching, sometimes alienated children who need community and support. For their sake and ours, let them come!
For the preciousness and perspective of children of all ages, we give you thanks and praise. May we welcome them with joy and thanksgiving, blessing and honor!