Finding the joy of a child

It was Tuesday morning a little after 11 a.m. and it was already 97 degrees. I had been working on the roof of a church in Monterrey, Mexico, and it was time for a short break and some cool water. I was a Volunteer in Mission trip in 2004. Just as I came down from the roof, the children from the Mission Bible School, which had been going on that morning, finished their juice and cookies. It was the end of the organized activities of Bible school at Iglesia Methodista de Mexico Templo Dios Con Nosotros. But the children were not done–not at all.

One boy about 10 hurried to the drums. Another went for the organ. Some girls headed for the tambourines. And together they began to sing. Though I did not understand their words, there was no mistake that they were singing praise songs to God. I noted that they did not sing because it was part of the Mission Bible School program. They did not sing because anyone told them to sing. They did not sing for people to hear them. They were singing because it gave them joy to sing praises to God.

I watched them for a while. They graciously invited the few children not singing to come and join them. All were welcome. The singers ranged in age from five to twelve. Only the littlest, shyest ones did not join in. They sang and sang and sang and sang. The joy in their hearts was clear. It was pure and honest worship.

A tear came to my eye as I watched them. These children were from a poor part of Monterrey. They had very little in the way of material possession. But that didn’t matter. These children were sons and daughters of God, created by God and precious in his sight. AND they knew it. Because they knew it, they sang praises to him from their hearts.

Each day as we worked on projects at the church, they sang. Each day they praised God with songs of joy. And we were blessed by their music. It touched our hearts. Most importantly, it was a gift to God–worship from the heart.

Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15). May our hearts be as open and pure and joyous as we come to worship our God.

Pastor Diann O’Bryant is the minister of Gilman United Methodist Church, 312 Gilman St., Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people.