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Child’s Play
pastor corner

Pastor Jim Jackson

Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church

My, how children’s games have changed. Anyone remember girls playing Jacks? They were little metal pieces about three quarters of an inch square and shaped like a cube. A game consisted of a handful of those spread on the floor. Then one took a little rubber ball and bounced it on the floor, all the while attempting to pick up as many jacks as possible before the ball hit the floor.

Whoever retrieved the most in one grasp was declared the winner.

Anyone remember boys playing marbles? They would draw a small circle in the sand, placing a few marbles in the middle. Then each player took a marble and using his thumb and first finger, shoot at an encircled marble, attempting to knock it out of the ring. If successful, the marble was yours. That is if you played for keepsies Good players won many marbles playing “keepsies.

Now Mama called that gambling, thus a “no-no” in our good Baptist family. Of course that only added suspense and bragging rights to the game. Otherwise marbles knocked out were returned to the circle for another game. Winners were the guys who knocked out the most ones.

How about that game with a small rubber ball attached to a paddle with a long rubber band? The object was to hit the ball with the paddle. Thereupon the rubber band would bring the ball back with a smack against the paddle. The object was to keep the smacking going as long as you could; but often if you missed the ball, it would hit you in the face instead of the paddle. Whoever kept the ball bouncing without missing was declared the winner. Seems like it was called “Paddle Ball.” Some innovative school teachers used the paddle without the ball for disciplinary purposes. they applied it to your rear-end, where it didn’t bounce.

Then there were those social games we all played outside. Ring-a-Round the Rosies, Drop-the-Hankerchief, Skip-ARope, Musical Chair, Hop-Scotch and such. Well now days, kids games are too often played inside air conditioned rooms where no one gets dirty. They can play anywhere, any time and whatever the weather. Been to one of those restaurants where they have electric devises on the table? A kid, sometimes an adult, can play games before the chicken tenders arrive. No, it’s never free: just add it to your tab along with the tip.

How different times are these days.

Where have all the cap-guns and coonskin caps gone? Is it for the better or worse? You tell me.

To take a phrase from a few years ago: “What would Jesus do”? Did he ever play childhood games? I don’t know, but I do know he watched children play. For one, he watched them play wedding and funeral, doing things they saw adults do—see Matthew 11:17-19. Kinda like when we played Cowboys and Indians.

The occasion was when he and John the Baptist were preaching, whether hard sayings or comforting ones, they wouldn’t participate or listen. He said his listeners, adults, reminded him of children playing funeral and wedding.

Some refused to participate whether the message was one marked by grief or gladness. And some of us today, like pouting children, won’t listen to the Gospel whether preached in tones of hell-fire or grace. Jesus also spoke of a time when all the games will be over, some being winners, some losers.

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