Pillar Journal
- A seasonal journal produced by Pillar Church in Holland, MI to guide us through the Christian year.
Pillar Journal

A Letter: Anna Erickson


Dear Pillar,
Listen to this, from Matthew’s gospel:

Matthew 19:13-15
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; 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.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

This gives my heart comfort: We follow a God who welcomes the little children. God not only welcomes them but lifts them up as the archetype of kingdom-of-heaven citizens.

The other day after worship at the Warehouse, Abby DeRoo sent me a photo of the DeRoo, Lundy, Deur and Hilton kiddos sliding down the giant snow pile beside the parking lot, with the (rare but beautiful) West Michigan sun sparkling in the sky. Joy abounded, squeals of delight rang through the air, and that crew of children ushered in with their hearts and voices a foretaste of resurrection life.

We’d just left our worship gathering singing these lyrics:

“For behold! I tell a myst’ry:
At the trumpet sound we’ll wake
“Death is swallowed up in vict’ry!”
When we meet our King of Grace
Every year we thought was wasted
Every night we cried “How long?”
All will be a passing moment
In our Savior’s vict’ry song”

I’m sure the children on the snow pile all know of their own unique pain and sorrow in their short lives, and they also know Jesus as the one who is with them in the midst of it. And still, they climbed the mountain of melting ice, on the February day that feels almost warm enough to be Resurrection Sunday, because deep down in their bones lives an assurance from the Holy Spirit that death is swallowed up in victory. And in their baptisms, they’re marked with belonging in God’s family. They’re already singing our Savior’s victory song, with their mountain-climbing, delight-seeking lives. It is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.

Could Lent this year, for you and for me, be a time of rekindling childlike hearts of wonder at the kindness of God? Could we begin to see ourselves as those who are welcomed into the arms of Jesus, just as we are? Lent is about remembering that we’re human, small, mortal, dust… and that’s good news. We can approach Jesus as our friend, just as we are, with the joy and belligerent confidence of a little child. We don’t have to clean up our act first… Jesus will bring us there in due time. Run to Jesus, snotty-nosed, wet-diapered, in the chaos of your own life, as a child again. He not only welcomes you but insists that you belong in his kingdom, fully human, fully needy, fully loved.

One of the things I love about little children is how quickly their hearts and bodies can pivot from deep sorrow to exuberant joy (and back again). While I’m not a parent, my years of nannying and working as a camp counselor gave me up-close access to the complex, full, and beautiful spiritual and emotional lives of the littlest ones.

This Lent, may we dare to believe that joy and sorrow can coexist, overlap, and take turns in our lives with God, the God who became fully human for us, died for us, and rose for us.
You’re human, I’m human, and that’s okay. That’s enough. Become like a child again, and dare to believe that God meets you there.

Pastor Anna

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