Our national and local conversations are being redirected by the leadership of schoolchildren. Some among us may recognize this as a sign of the Reign of God in Isaiah’s prophecy (Isa 11:6):
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The adults have failed to address the deadly realities or transform violent behavior, yet the lament of children is at least drawing our attention. Consider where we’ve seen it before – a helpless child, born into poverty, changes the course of history (Moses, Jesus). Helen Keller was a holy terror until she found a caring teacher, and eventually awakened the world to the possibilities when you’re deaf and blind. Stephen Hawking was little more than a child when his body began to fail, but his intellect outshone nearly all his contemporaries and invited us all into wonders never before conceived. Mozart started playing at four and began to change the classical idiom when he began composing at five.
The young people who are confronting legislators and corporations about the violence in schools are contemporary prophets – those who critique what is and energize people to change it. They’re making loud lament over the death of classmates and destruction of peace and learning, and offering a vision of a different future – one that looks a lot more like the Reign of God.
We’re being reminded that all sorts of God’s people are necessary to God’s mission of reconciling and healing the world. These young scholar-prophets have been well taught and formed. What might we and our own communities learn from their example? Does your vestry solicit the voices and concerns of children? Have you walked around your neighborhood or attended a school meeting to ask, particularly if there are few or no youngsters in your congregation? God’s prophets rarely come out of the centers of communities, for it is their marginal position that gives them eyes to see and ears to hear.
Eastertide is meant to focus our search for unexpected life and liveliness. Listen for the prophetic voices naming resurrection yearning and possibilities. Go and look, and go and listen! God is at work in the little ones and the least of these, and we will find Jesus there ahead of us – and thus far unrecognized.
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