During the spring semester of my daughter Evey's 5th grade year, students interested in playing an instrument in middle school were invited to meet with the band instructors and try out different instruments. The auditorium filled with students, parents, teachers, and all variety of instruments was a wonderful cacophony of musical aspirations! On first glance, it may have appeared this represented these children's first exposure to music at all. Truly, it was a milestone in a lifelong journey that began when these children first experienced the splendor of notes coming together in harmony and rhythm while still in their mothers' wombs. In fact, the language of music seems innate to the human experience.
As the 6th grade year began and students moved through the days, weeks, and months, becoming acquainted with their instruments, learning from their teachers, and practicing, practicing, practicing, the discord moved toward unity and noise became song. Their journey now continues in 7th grade - for many, the years ahead will be filled with more practice, more learning, and more glorious performances; for all it will open their minds to a greater appreciation of music throughout life.
The Gospels do not provide much information concerning Jesus' early years; however, his later life reveals that he was well versed in Jewish teaching and Luke's Gospel highlights how the presence of Christ in utero stirs the yet to be born John the Baptist in Elizabeth's womb. We can safely presume that the true nature of John and Jesus was nurtured in their youth. Our experience as children of God and Christ's disciples is a combination of 'nature' and 'nurture'. As children of God, created in God's own image, we are eternally entwined with the Holy Trinity, and our appreciation of our life in Christ and our identity as God's children grows as we nurture our true nature.
I was recently worshiping alongside one of our youngest church members. His attention was drawn to the things it should be, his mother and father, the texture of the table and his backpack filled with all the necessities, and a desire to go beyond the limits of his mother's grasp to explore even further! Many of us have been there; both as infants and as parents to infants; at one point eager to explore the sights and sounds of God's glorious creation and, before we knew it, finding ourselves trying to contain the sounds and movements of our own eager explorer. In the midst of his exploration something new caught his attention... the Lord's Prayer. The sound and rhythm of an entire community joining together in affirmation and praise. That glorious unity was irresistible, if only for a few moments. The Spirit moved through that place and our young brother in Christ reminded me that God continues to work in mysterious and wondrous ways. I celebrated that moment and was filled with hope for the days ahead when we will all be invited to help nurture the true nature of this child of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, may we always welcome all God's children. May we celebrate the sights, sounds, and movements our youngest members bring to our Christian community and worship, for they are reminders of God's beauty. May we always remember that inviting all God's children to experience the sights, sounds, and movement of the Christian church works to nurture the true nature of us all!