Mark 10:14b-15 Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.

Every Christmas Eve, my rector would tell the story of Jesus’ nativity as experienced by the animals in the manger. A gaggle of small children, attired in their Christmas finery, sat around the rector, enraptured as they listened to various animal sounds and everyone’s favorite part about the camel “that had a large lip.” With love and humor, our priest blessed his young listeners with the story of the One who would recognize and bless children as vital members of the kingdom of heaven.

Dependence, trust, and vulnerability—not mere innocence—qualify children for God’s kingdom. Their natural candor, lack of intellectual pride, and absence of jaded worldliness are characteristics Christ wants all of us to cultivate. Children need instruction from adults, but adults also need to relearn and remember these childlike patterns of behavior throughout our lives.

MOVING FORWARD: Make a point to spend some dedicated time with a child you know and love this week.