I have been reading several parenting books in these last few months. Lately I have been working through Robbie Castleman’s delightful Parenting in the Pew (review to come). On a section dealing with how children belong, she quotes Stanley Hauerwas’s Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (p. 37), where he writes:
In many of our modern, sophisticated congregations, children are often viewed as distractions. We tolerate children only to the extent they promise to become “adults” like us. Adult members sometimes complain that they cannot pay attention to the sermon, they cannot listen to the beautiful music, when fidgety children are beside them in the pews. “Send them away,” many adults say. Create “Children’s Church” so these distracting children can be removed in order that we adults can pay attention…Interestingly, Jesus put a child in the center of his disciples, “in the midst of them,” in order to help them pay attention…The child was a last ditch-effort by God to help the disciples pay attention to the odd nature of God’s kingdom. Few acts of Jesus are more radical, countercultural, than his blessing of children.