The Rev. Rob Courtney & Mtr. Liz Embler-Beazley
Fr. Rob & Mtr. Liz are the fabulous clergy at St. Paul's Episcopal Church & School
We are screening the first season of The Chosen during this Season after the Epiphany. On Jan. 18 a group of us gathered to watch the third episode, "Jesus Loves The Little Children."
While "Murphy's Law" wasn't done with us yet, Fr. Rob found a creative solution to make the sound much easier to hear. Don't worry! The projector and sound system connection issue will be fixed soon and it certainly does not interfere with the great discussions we've come to know and love with this class. And this episode was the shortest we've watched so far, clocking in at 30:29 minutes, so we had ample time for discussion.
This week, the third episode shifts from focusing on the people around Jesus, those who he will call to follow him and be his disciples, and centers on Jesus and a group of children. The episode opens with a young girl and her doll wandering around a campsite, playing with the tools and food she finds, and quickly sneaking away when she hears the camp's occupant approaching. We the viewers clearly recognize the occupant as Jesus, though the young girl has no idea who he is and runs away. The next day, she brings her young friend Joshua, and Jesus speaks to them, inviting them to eat and ask questions of him. The next day, Abigail and Joshua bring a whole group of their friends and they all descend upon Jesus's camp asking him questions, helping him in his work, and learning from him. And woven throughout this episode are shots of Jesus alone at his camp, praying to and seeming to have intense discussions with God.
Watching the children come and be wholly welcomed by Jesus made this episode the favorite of several viewers. His interactions with them are kind, patient, and supportive, which is exactly what many of us would expect from a man who tells the crowds "Allow the children to come to me...because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children." (Matthew 19:14 CEB) And it is through his patient answering of questions that we begin to see Jesus's future ministry of leading and teaching the disciples take form. One of the children asks Jesus, "What is your favorite food?" And there was some laughter from the viewers, when the Bread of Life responded, "I love bread!" Another child brings to Jesus the issue of fighting with his friend at school, and Jesus counsels him to be kind and peaceful - blessed are the peacemakers. As Jesus and the children pose questions back and forth, one hand keeps raising above the others. Abigail, a headstrong and assertive young girl, knows all the answers and is eager to answer them. In a culture that did not educate girls in the temple, Jesus encourages her and lifts up her among her peers as someone to emulate. At the end of the episode, Jesus leaves the campsite without saying good bye to the children. Abigail alone goes back to the campsite and finds gift that Jesus left for her, a little house with two horses, a ladder, and a note that says "Abigail, I know you can read. You are very special. This is for you. I did not only come for the wealthy."
While there was very little in this episode that was scriptural, our group spent a good bit of time reflecting on how this episode imagines how Jesus prepared for his public ministry. Like we hear in scripture, he goes away to a quiet place to pray and commune with God. And while he is there, a group of children help him articulate the teachings that he will later share with the disciples and the crowds who follow him. We hear him quote from the Hebrew scriptures, especially from Isaiah 61:1-2 "The spirit of the Lord is upon me..." and seems to tear up when he asks them to recite the Shema. In every interaction with this group of children, he is lovingly teaching and encouraging them, helping them to feel valued and cared for. Isn't this how all of us want to feel when we approach Jesus?
Was it meaningful for you to watch Jesus interact with children in this way?
Have you ever imagined how Jesus prepared to begin his public ministry?
Does seeing this relational side of Jesus expand your perspective of our Lord and Savoir?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and let's have a conversation! Next Wednesday, we'll be back for episode 4. Maybe you can join us! Learn more about our Wednesdays at Church (W@tCh) program here. Hope to see you!