In my religious tradition, Jesus says “Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them.”
Today, the children are coming.
They are coming out from school.
They’re coming from around the state.
They’re coming from around the world.
They’re coming up East Wash.
They’re coming on strike.
They’re coming to make their voices heard.
They’re coming to confront our fairly ignorant and greenwashing power company,
and coming to confront a governor steeped in education who in this instance has yet to recognize their youthful value and validity.
They’re coming with strength.
They’re coming with courage.
They’re coming with audacity.
They’re coming to change the future.
The children are coming to help us all.
As Jesus suggested, let’s not hinder them.
Let the children come.
Though Jesus didn’t and I don’t mean it as a put down, some of the youth involved in this day might not prefer to be called children. That’s because there’s still a notion in society that children should be kept in their place, that they don’t have the standing we adults do, that we’ll take care of business, that we know better.
Well, these youth today are saying we don’t know better. Or maybe more clearly that we know plenty and haven’t done anything about it. It’s not business as usual.
Jesus says don’t hinder the children, but that’s what we’ve been up to. We’ve hindered them by not paying attention. We hinder them by not paying attention to their future or their children’s future on this planet we’re leaving them. With our fossil fuel pollution, we are reducing the potential for their lives and for any life to flourish. Not only hindering, we are contributing to death, an enormous cost for our cheap present.
If we consider ourselves protectors of children, we’ve just about blown it. If we claim to want to keep our children safe, we’re falling down on the job. If we say we want them to succeed in life, we’re actively obstructing that pathway.
Instead, they’re picking up the pieces and taking care of us. They are the responsible ones. They are the faithful ones. As our house burns, they sound the alarm and act like it’s an emergency. In this moment, that’s our source of hope, and so Jesus is exactly right: let the children come.
Jesus also spoke of scary times, of destruction and devastation. He talked of natural disasters and conflicts and hunger and war. He spoke of darkened skies and when powers will topple. He didn’t say it to make is desperate or focus on the negative. It was a warning to put the powers on notice.
We’re at that kind of moment now, of so much apparently bad news. We watch it happen around us in so many headlines and sometimes in our own backyards. Jesus says this is just the beginning and tells us to keep awake.
We’re here because we’re awake.
We look to the children, the youth, because they’re awake.
We know the hour is late because we’re awake.
We watch it happen with open eyes because we’re awake.
We know the ripples and far effects because we’re awake.
We are reasonable and realistic and we’re awake.
We are eager for action because we’re awake.
Maybe you’re here today because, like me, you’re often scared of what this beginning is. It’s already so dreadful that I fear it getting any worse, and it stands to get a lot worse. I know it’s mostly not affecting me. But it is hitting the vulnerable already—the young, the poor, people who don’t look like me or live like me, and millions of other species. The whole world is shaking.
And this could be the beginning of the end. Or it may mean that this shaking world will shake up things and topple those power structures, that the death of some of that old will give birth and give rise to new life. It’s the 11th hour, 11 years remaining for meaningful action. Time is short, so we’d better not be asleep on the job. We need to be awake.
So we don’t shut our eyes to this reality. We don’t look only with fearful eyes. We gaze wide awake at the difficult present with visions of the vibrant hopeful future. We’re going to be part no longer of hindering, but now enjoy the role of fostering life across this big beautiful world. We look even with joy in our eyes, knowing this can be fun, that we’re in it together, that life is the best. We’re here today and we’re going to keep awake.
A better future is on the way. Let the children come.