Christmas and the Kingdom of heaven are for kids. Jesus made that point several times in the Gospels. I’ve been trying to capture the particular characteristics of children that are so meaningful to God. One of those 18 like a childcharacteristics seems to be a simplistic hearing of God’s teaching and open hearts to embrace them without the confusion of a personal agenda or a history which clouds the clarity of Jesus’ words. Grownups don’t always get it. I think this is what Jesus meant when he prayed, “thank you, Father…that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Luke 10:21). One of the things that children seem to “get” when adults miss the mark is in the area of forgiveness. One Sunday School Teacher tells about picking up one of her students for Sunday school. She writes:

When I went to pick up Shanna for Sunday school one week, she was crying and had blood on her dress. “It’s my uncle Joe!” she said. I knew that her family was “going through changes” because of Uncle Joe and his drug addiction. Shanna had particular reason to feel bitter toward her uncle. For years she had dreamed of owning a bicycle, and that Christmas a donation from a church made her dream come true. Shanna rode her shiny, new blue bike everywhere, bragged on it, polished it, and treasured it. Within a month, her uncle had sold the bike to buy drugs—an ample reason to embitter a nine-year-old. Now, on this morning, there was one more reason. Uncle Joe had come home wearing a T-shirt that read, “Say No to Drugs.” Shanna commented, “Why don’t you read your own shirt?” He hit her, causing a nosebleed. The white collar and yellow lace of her Sunday dress were a mess. Nothing else was clean, and everyone else was still asleep. We went to church to wash out the bloodstain. When it came time in the service for individual prayer petitions, Shanna’s voice sounded bright and clear as a trumpet: “I pray for my uncle Joe. He needs your help, Lord. Please, Jesus, help my uncle.” What a privilege to drink from the same chalice as Shanna.

In the Lord’s Prayer we’re taught to pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I think Shanna gets it while many adults still harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in their hearts. It’s only when we become like children and are able to forgive and let go that we experience God’s peace. Matthew 18:3 says, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”