Worship Belongs to the Little Children

“Out of the mouths of infants You have ordained praise for Yourself, because of the foe and the adversary.”

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”

“Truly, truly I say to you, unless you receive the Kingdom of Heaven like a little child, you shall not enter it.”

“Unless you become as little children, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

“I thank You, Father, that Thou hast hidden these things from the prudent and the wise, and hast revealed them to little children, yeah, Father, for so it pleased you.”

The Kingdom of God is as open to children as it is to anyone. Children can know God. It is not harder for a child to worship God than for an adult. It is not more difficult for God to reveal Himself to a baby than to a grown-up.

The entirety of our being is made by and for God. Therefore, all of our existence, all of our faculties, have their component in worship; their note, however minor, in the symphony. But the essential thing should never be eclipsed by the non-essentials; the primal and first thing should never be subservient to the secondary things.

The main thing in worship is to be united to God; to receive God and to be received by Him. This is the province of the child in us; to trust absolutely, to believe without doubt (not necessarily without questions), to love responsively, to give out of what is given always and at all times to us. Worship is to relate to God as Father. I hesitate to use that word, for very bad fathers are not rare, and no father compares to God, nor could even were he perfect, but I have no other word. I don’t want you to think of some father who did not understand you, or who loved you or disregarded you based on your performance, or who could not provide adequately for you for some reason – possibly one beyond his control – or who had any of a number of other defects, whether moral and personal or external to him, when you think of God. God is the ideal of the Father, the perfect one, Creator – out of His own being, who gifts existence and personality out of His own existence and personality – Provider, Nurturer, Protector, Refuge, Healer, Guide. Those attitudes which children so naturally have to their parents – attitudes of which perhaps no parent has been worthy, and of which, possibly none are even able to be worthy – are due to God, who perfectly fulfills them, and are much of worship. Children, too, are as capable of awe as adults, of wonder, of the sheer appreciation of a thing, not for some service it can render to them, but simply for being and for being the thing that it is.

These are worship. It is a child-like thing, a thing totally natural to childhood. Worship should always be largely accessible and comprehensible to children, for while all of our being and personality is involved, the main portion, the large portion, the essential portion, is the province of the child – we must be children to worship. When communal worship is withheld from children, or is largely inaccessible or incomprehensible to them, that means that it has probably ceased to be worship – referring, that is, to inaccessibility to children who have gained the maturity to understand the mediums of communication – largely words, I think – that must be used (I do not mean the vocabulary and attention-span necessary to understand esoteric words and conversations). If those esoteric words and ways of saying things cannot be pared down and made simple enough for a child to understand, it is not worship – it is not the lifting up of the soul to God – it is not receiving of good things from God, and, foremost, of God Himself – it is not offering ourselves to God – it is not acknowledging who God is and that we are His – it is not trusting God. It might have some good in it, but it is not worship. Worship is not intellectual; the intellect has a part in worship, for the whole man does, for the whole man is made by and for God, to know Him and be filled in Him, but it is an accompanying role, not a main role. Those who make it a main role are the prudent and the wise, those from which the Father has hidden the things of the Spirit, the things of the Kingdom, for the heart of worship – the reverent, awed, confident acceptance of the Gift of the Divine, the participation in ultimate Mystery – cannot be entered by the intellect: it can be entered by the child.

When Jesus spoke of those – not necessarily biological children – to whom the Gospel was revealed as children, it was not because He meant nothing by it or something vague and phantasmal. It is because the child can receive and enter the Kingdom, the child can receive the revelation of the Father, while the one who has ceased to be a child cannot receive the Kingdom, or enter it, or know the Father. The adult in the Kingdom of Heaven, the one who is matured or great, is the one who is most a child, who has not neglected the attitude of a child but has grown in it, in whom that attitude has developed into the attitude of the child of God.

God became a baby. God became a human child. He did not become more fully Divine as He grew older, as He grew into adulthood. From His conception in Mary’s womb, He was fully God.


Copyright 2020 Raina Nightingale

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