And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them..”
…and a little child shall lead them it says. It’s talking about the time when, (as preacher Will Willimon notes) “God’s going to get the kind of world God wants”.
Child-like trust is a wonderful thing. If you have kids you know the wonder years. They restore your soul and make you into a human being, and they charge you with what kind of world your kids will grow up in.
Trust is a quickly disappearing commodity. It makes me think of a YouTube experiment where a back-packer would drop a wallet full of money on the road. Someone trailed behind to see if those finding the wallet would restore it to its rightful owner. The YouTuber was often rewarded with the surprise of honesty, and sometimes saddened by those who said nothing and pocketed the wallet. Results varied by country. Some countries scored high, and others low. You could see from this that the kind of society we live in, depends on trust as a shared commodity. I know. I grew up in one of those communities where people did not lock their doors at night.
Trust can be destroyed by evil, and Jesus himself warned about this. For those who destroy the trust of little children, it is better for them that a millstone be tied around their necks. It may be why he called us to become little children in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
I am thinking of all this when Googling a recipe for Easter ham. We don’t often eat ham, but when we do it makes me think of my mother. I remember an incident that happened around 1980 when the buzz in the media was Aids and the War on Drugs, both things that would make you look askance at a hypodermic needle. They speak of drug abuse. When it comes to food, no one wants to be reminded that animals domesticated for food are injected with hormones and other such things. No one wants to be thinking of that when they are eating their Easter ham.
My parents were in Regina at the time, and I was there to attend a retirement celebration for my Uncle. My mom perked up with a story about her grocery shopping of the day before. To put this into context, my mother saw herself as a “valued customer” wherever she shopped on account of feeding a large family. Hence, she fraternized with the grocer. She made it a point to know them, and wanted them to know her. She was after all, only one generation away from the farm, and first contact with those who produced the food we ate.
My mother’s story happened because she brought home a ham, only to find buried within, a broken hypodermic needle. Depending on what kind of world you see yourself in, this can be cause for good news. One brother of mine commented that a trip to a lawyer or a newspaper would turn that ham into a bundle of cash. Broken hypodermic needles are not a good news story if you are trying to sell ham.
But that was not the kind of world my mother lived in. She went back to the store and informed them of the error. She gave the ham back and they gave her a free one in return. They also thanked her copiously and loaded her down with coupons. My mother was very happy about the coupons. She also I believe, slept soundly at night. No thought of opportunism had entered her head. The grocer was after all, her friend and fellow in the community.
This kind of innocence came back to bite my parents, who at times did not fare well in the hands of malevolent or dishonest people. I saw this kind of innocence as a great detriment. Many years on, we all lock our doors. We have suffered a lot of smash and grabs in the community when cars and garages are broken into by those looking to fence some items for easy drug money. I am saddened to see this decline in the community. I realize in retrospect how few people who would take back the ham, and how much better a world they make with their innocent good intent.
I hope I would be the kind of guy who would make the YouTuber proud. They guy who would pick up the wallet and return it to its rightful owner. Trust is a shared commodity that makes a society better when it is widespread. Honesty used to be a high value in western nations, and I think we have since been on a decline toward a more cynical way of viewing the world.
I am going to make my Easter ham thinking of my mother, and knowing that the kind of world she is in now, is the kind where everyone returns the wallet, or the Easter ham, with good intent, and total innocence. It’s what Easter is about, restoration and resurrection, and God’s big plan coming to fruition in the fullness of time.
It makes me happy-sad. And it makes me firmer in those things I already believe. For a little child shall lead them. Of such is the kingdom of Heaven.