During a journey to Prague with my students we also visited the famous baroque church St. Nicholas. This lead to a most interesting discussion with the children.
The church St. Nicholas in Prague is full of gold, paintings, angels, and all kinds of statures, typical baroque. The children sat in one of the benches, looked around, and were most impressed. One of them shook her head.
"Why did the people of those days build this?" she asked.
"They wanted to build a house for God," I replied.
"So is God now living in this church here?"
"No, God lives in the hearts of those people that love him."
"But why did they then build this church with all that gold and the statures?" she insisted on her question, "why so rich?"
"They built the house for God in order to give it to him as a present."
Now the child looked most serious. "But if everything that we have we received from God as a gift, isn't he sad then, when we give him back part of his gifts? Does God perhaps think that we would not like his gifts?"
This kind of a child's logic made me reflect. "It is correct that we received everything from God as gifts. But God also enjoys getting things back.
The child again shook her head. "I prefer our little church in Munich. There I feel comfortable. Here I get worried that one of the many statures might fall down on me and kill me."
A man who obviously listened to our discussion now joined in. "You see," he explained, "in those days most people had very simple houses only, many were poor and could hardly afford anything. Only the palaces of the kings were richly decorated with gold and with ornaments. Simple people should feel like in paradise when entering this church. That is why it is so beautiful."
"No," the child refused, "I think paradise is a lot different, it has got much green and trees and wonderful nature."
I agreed with the child. No human building can ever be as beautiful as nature. "For sure in paradise it is most beautiful. Perhaps people have different ideas on what paradise might look like but for sure it will be wonderful.
The child smiled and agreed. To everybody who has Jesus in his heart he also promised that one day this person will enter paradise.
When I was back in Munich I read Psalm 8, verses 2 – 7:
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: