This is my story - part 1
Matthew 19: 13-15 and says:
13 Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
As you may know, I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Since I was an infant, I had always attended the Methodist church there. I was baptized as an infant. When I was around four years old, my mom and dad dropped me off at the nursery while they attended the church service. Since that age, I have been known to be a very helpful girl. I remember helping out the nursery workers with other babies, including my sisters. Without thinking about it, I was always helping out in anything, of course, what a 4-5-year-old child could handle. If there was a fellowship lunch at church, I was there passing out cups of juice to the elderly. Perhaps, holding the door so everyone can go into the room. So, I was serving God and God's people at a very early age, and my spiritual formation began.
One of my favorite childhood memories was at a vacation bible study that I participated in thanks to my grandmother. We stayed at her home while we were there, and I had so much fun. Some of you have heard me sing here, but all begin at that vacation bible study. I learned how we could worship God through our voice by singing. I always volunteered to sing out the songs they were teaching us, and I remembered that first song which I fell in love with God, one that I had never forget:
“El amor de Dios es maravilloso, el amor de Dios es maravilloso, el amor de Dios es maravilloso, cuando grande el amor de Dios. Tan alto que no puedo ir arriba de el, tan bajo que no puedo ir abajo del el, tan ancho que no puedo estar afuera de el, cuan grande es el amor de Dios”
*The love of God is wonderful; the love of God is great. So high that I cannot go above it, so low that I cannot go below it, so wide that I cannot be outside of it, how great is the love of God.
So, it was at that experience, at that vacation bible study, that I felt my first call to ministry. I was only around 5-6 years old when I felt my heart strangely warm as I saw the pastor talking to us about God. And I said to myself, "I want to do that; I want to talk to others about God's love."
In this passage, we see Jesus interacting with children. The parents decide to bring their children to Jesus to pray for them and place his hands on them. They have heard about Jesus, who he is, his miracles, so I could imagine the parents as they see Jesus in a distant saying to their children, "Look, that is Jesus." Then, I could imagine the children running toward Jesus, screaming with excitement, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Their parents were perhaps running behind their children, trying to tell them to slow down. Suddenly, the disciples try to stop the children from reaching out to Jesus. The disciples may have been merely trying to protect their teacher, Jesus, from too much attention or insensitive [New Bible Commentary].
Now, I want to invite you to remember your childhood and ask yourself, what was that first memory about God? About Jesus? About the church? Did your parents take you like these children in this story to know Jesus? Perhaps, another family member or a childhood friend. What was that first memory about God’s love towards you? Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.”
Perhaps your first memory about God was hearing mom and dad praying with you before bedtime. Maybe, your first memory about the church was attending on Sundays. Perhaps your first memory about Jesus was part of the Christmas program where we celebrate Jesus's birth.
Isaiah 54:13 says, "All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children." I had the opportunity to be taught by the Lord at a very early age because my whole family brought me to meet Jesus at his church. I experience Jesus, personally. At an early stage of my life, I got to experience God's love for the first time. Since then, my life was changed forever.
I didn’t know what to expect from that vacation bible study; it was just a time to have fun for me. It was, I did have fun, but I took something else with me. An authentic experience with Jesus, an early call to ministry, and since that moment, God has led me to where I am now. That first memory, that first encounter with Jesus, shaped who I'm.
If you are a parent, I want to encourage to not let anything take away the opportunity for your children to experience God's love. For your children, I encourage them to take the initiative, be adventures, God is around us everywhere, every time, they juts need to be open to experience God's love, here and now.
I pray that your children can have a personal experience with Jesus through his church. To be faithfully embrace with the love of Jesus Christ to know God and his word personally so that they can grow in a deeper understanding of their faith. As a result, they will show the love of God to others in this church and the community they live in. Jesus will pray for them; Jesus will bless them as he blessed those children.
I’m so thankful that God used my parents to take my hand and guided me to lead a Christian life. But not only them, the church which I grew up also had a significant and unique role in my life, as you will see as I continue to share my story with you during this month.
I will finish with this. My parents and my church made a convent with God the moment I was baptized. In the baptismal covenant in The United Methodist Church, the minister asks the parents:
Will you nurture this child in Christ's holy church?
The parents and sponsors respond with these or similar words: By teaching and example we will guide her/him/them to accept God's grace for herself/himself/themselves, to profess her/his/their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life.
Then, the minister asks the congregation, the church:
Will you nurture one another in living the church's faith and include this child in your
With God's help, we will live the gospel of Jesus Christ. We will embody
faith, hope, and love so that Name (and Name[s]) will grow up/learn to trust
God and live love's service in the world. We will pray for her/him/them on her/his/their journey of discipleship among
I invite you to live out this convent. To guide the children to accept God's grace, embody our faith, hope, and love, trust in God, pray for each other, and be an example to our children as we continue to embark on this journey being disciples of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus has his arms open, as he said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”