Praying for pixie dust was an invitation for God to lavish our team with his loving-kindness, and for each of us to walk more upright, eyes attentive to what God might do next. You can’t pray for pixie dust and maintain a dour demeanor or dreary disposition.
The Mary Poppins of all prayers, asking for pixie dust is hard to do without a frolicsome smile on your face, a playful cheer in your spirit, a holy anticipation of how God may answer.
Now, praying for pixie dust is not magic whereby if you say the right words – “abracadabra,” “suoicodilaipxecitsiligarfilacrepus,” or “a la peanut butter sandwiches” – something marvelous happens.
That’s wishful thinking. A prayer marked by faith is never about what happens on our terms or time lines, but God’s. Faith-stained prayer brings us to a place of trust and hope.
Praying for pixie dust is a childlike expression of trust and hope – trusting in both God’s wisdom and winsomeness, finding hope in God’s mercy and mirth.
I often think of Jesus surrounded by eager dads and moms, men and women the disciples dismiss as pushy parents. The Gospel of Mark, an account of the life of Jesus known for its brevity, pauses to highlight the important details of the scene.
Surrounded by an informal congregation, Jesus teaches on the mystery of marriage, reminding listeners of their holy commitment, not just before humans but before God. The crowd responds en masse, but it’s easy to miss.
Moms and dads elbow their way to the front of the crowd, hoping Jesus will rest his hands on their children and pray for them. The parents respond to Jesus by placing the fruit of their marriages, their most valuable possessions, and their entire futures, in the hands of the Son of God.
The disciples don’t recognize the preciousness of the parents’ response and issue a sharp-tongued reprimand. Jesus is peeved.
The Son of God calls the people to repentance, and they respond but not in the way the disciples anticipate. Jesus defends the children, and their parents too, when he tells the disciples to leave the children alone and let them come to him.
The Gospel of Mark records Jesus picking up kids. I imagine Jesus whispering the love of God in their ears. As he prays, some of the children probably tug on his beard; others poke at his cheeks.
A few remain skeptical of the stranger and keep their eyes on Mommy at all times. Jesus gives the kids huge bear hugs and twirls the most rambunctious in the air before returning them to their parents.
At least, that’s how I imagine this scene when I read, “And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.”
Against a backdrop of hugs and laughter, Jesus makes a startling declaration: The kingdom of God belongs to those who maintain childlike receptivity. Those who refuse to receive the kingdom of God like a child will miss it entirely.
I don’t think the disciples intentionally discriminated against the little ones; they may have meant well in trying to protect Jesus from being overrun. After all, if Jesus swung one child in his arms, all the kids would want a turn.
Standing in stark contrast to the eagerness and exuberance of the children is the disciples’ curt response. Modern management buzzwords can be used to describe their reasoning.
They’re leveraging Jesus’ time, streamlining the day’s activities, creating a win-win for the rabbi and the multitude, maintaining the ministry’s best practices. But Jesus knows something far more valuable is at stake than spiritual productivity or return on investment.
With their heads down, eyes straining for the next step, the disciples lost sight of the wonderment that Jesus came for all of humanity: the bourgeoisie and the peasant, the grumpy and the ebullient, the grey-haired and the bedheads.
Despite the miles and meals they shared, those closest to Jesus had lost their childlike receptivity, their ability to recognize that both God’s response to us and our response to God is seldom what we anticipate.
The story stands as a potent reminder of the importance of humility and trust, as well as a personal wake-up call that all too often I’m far more like the disciples than the children. I fail to enter into God’s kingdom. Distracted by efficiency and effectiveness, I lose out on what the children enjoyed that day – simply being with Jesus, delighting in his presence, and humbly asking him to pray for me.
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