Children tend to transform one's life, and they have a way of putting things in a different perspective, things that we had long since considered settled and set. That ability of a child to pose a question that leads an adult to reconsideration and review tells us something. About ourselves, we might learn that seeing from a different perspective leads us to new awareness and insight. And we may learn that children hold a key for us.
We connect with the boy Samuel at the Temple of Shiloh where the priest Eli is rather useless while his two sons run amok. He is brought gifts by his mother Hannah who had pledged him to God so that she might bear children - a bit of "let's make a deal"-making.
In the end, we hear that Samuel "grew up in the presence of the Lord." Apparently so, since we ought to regard Samuel as one of the most pivotal figures in the biblical history of God's people after Abraham, Moses, and David (okay, maybe Joshua). While his environment was anything but conducive to the moral and ethics of a faithful spirituality, somehow Samuel learned, grew, and matured into a mighty servant of God.
In the story of Jesus staying behind in the Temple, we can sympathize with the parents and their plight when they finally locate him. Of course, he is with the teachers and scribes in the Temple, discussing and questioning matters of faith, apparently to the elders' delight.
What is a 12 year old asking that can be so intriguing? Was Jesus brilliant, a prodigy? That's doubtful, but he surely asked the kinds of probing, simple questions that a 12 year old might ask about matters of faith. Those basic questions can be very thought-provoking. Without being schooled in the tradition, he might be challenging some of the time-honored assumptions of the elder teachers. His questions cause them to reflect on their own beliefs and positions. You might call it children's ministry.
Find out what else can be learned from these passages by checking out the sermon video below, and the downloads below the video panel.