Since the new church year has started it is wonderful to see the church filled with our youth along with the adults. As Orthodox Christians we highlight how it is important that they grow in the faith and keep them involved. In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 19, Christ instructs us to bring the children close to him.

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 19:14)

When Christ tells us to “let the children come” to him, he is also telling us to not distract our youth or put obstacles between them and God. Sometimes without realizing it our family activities, traditions, interactions, place Christ at the bottom of the list. In that specific pericope of the Gospel, the children were approaching Christ and the adults tried to pull them back as to not bother Him, just like a bodyguard keeps fans away from a star. Yet as we know, Christ told them it’s OK. In fact, Christ gives us adults the responsibility to bring the children to Him.

This brings me to two questions for us parents/ parent figures.

  1. What do we do to bring the Children to Christ?
  2. What obstacles to we place between children and Christ?

We highlight how special they are in the Orthodox Church as we have many prayers for children in their life. We pray over a newborn child; we bless the child on the 8th day to give them their name; we bring them in church on the 40th day, we baptize, chrismate, and commune infants.

It is also vital to give the youth an opportunity to be active in church. In the liturgy and outside the liturgy.

We adults are called to be examples of the faith to children yet at the same time children can also be examples for adults as well. When Christ says “for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14), He tells us that we need to be like children to inherit the kingdom of heaven, not the other way around. In other words Christ wants Adults to be Child-Like not Child-Ish. A child on the playground might forgive its friends easier than an adult at the office. A child can be more compassionate to the unfortunate and the needy. A child’s faith and prayer can be stronger than that of an adult. Remember there are many children who became Saints in the Church! As Children depend on their parents we too must realize our dependence on our Heavenly Father.

Children are gifts and blessings from God, and the greatest gift we can gift our children, a gift that they will never forget, is that which no one can ever take away…their faith and relationship with Christ.