Viewpoint from Rev Peter Glanville for 13th September 2013
Deacon for St Peters Church in Gorleston
“The joys and wonders of childhood”
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
New International Version of the Bible
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God”
King James Bible
Christ himself had an obvious and special understanding and love of children and childhood. As we watch our little ones grow and mature we often look in wonder at the ways in which those small genetic scraps of life mature and develop into real human beings. The biological miracle is the focus of many a young couple – then they notice that not only the child changes, but their lives are completely changed as well. I meet the joys and also sadness’s of procreation on a regular basis in my work as a hospital chaplain. Sometimes things not going according to plan. Decisions to be made and life issues accepted for the loving care of a cherished little one who does not fit the glossy image of the baby magazines. Often these are the children who become especially cherished and loved. The family unit enhanced in a challenging but love fuelled way.
Every child is special – unique – a perfect individual; not just in its DNA, but in the essence of its being, as it prepares for the unpredictable journey of life ahead. A “one off”– not just biologically but in its spiritual existence as well.
So then the changing role of the family comes to the fore. Early years are formative and rapid. We don’t have them long, but they are ours, and much of what they become is down to us. It is a credit to even in our much criticised society that “special needs” have a place in medicine, education and society, and our “special responses” are a sign of our social maturity.
We do what we can within the limitations of our resources, but meaningful, real love can make little financial demand compared with the “mother-care” road show which seems to be the competitive norm of many modern families. A mother’s hug, a family of smiles can work miracles which don’t require an emergency phone call to “Wonga”
By the time you are reading this, further suffering will have escalated in Syria, serving the “dubious, manufactured” ambitions of politicians and warmongers, they may be hawks or doves. Fighters for libertarian causes, or the self protecting militarist of past regimes. Yes the sword of modern warfare may well be drawn in the interest of the welfare of the little ones, but can you remember a case where the early death rolls have quenched rather than fuelled the hatred and division which creates a lethal environment for so many children to suffer?
The King James Bible quotes Christ with the phrase – “suffer little children”. He didn’t mean that the children should go through torment and agony, but that we should suffer – an old word for allow the Children, to come to the loving peace and joy which He promised.
Strange then, that instead of “suffering –allowing “the children to come to a world of protection and safety. It is so often the extremism and man’s hijacking of faiths of peace that cause the exact opposite. Come on world – accept the children’s special nature and let them grow. Don’t let us become a society offering postnatal and infantile suffering and hopelessness. We can all give something to our fledglings at the start of future flight – does it really cost so much to offer real love?
Peter Glanville was a journalist with the BBC for many years. He is now a member of the Chaplaincy Team
at the James Paget University Hospital, and a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.
He has four children and seven grandchildren.
He culpably admits that could have, or indeed should have, given them more! – Time can be priceless!