The Little Children Are Back!
by the Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler
Director of Mission Engagement
- Genesis 2:18-24
- Hebrews 1:1-1, 2:5-12
- Mark 10:2-16
I know some of you are saying, “didn’t we just have this Gospel lesson a couple of weeks ago?” Jesus has the child on his lap and says, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
This was from Mark 9:36-41, and we talked about how important children are to us today! But here we are a chapter later in 10:13-16, and Jesus is in the middle of some rather important teaching with his disciples. While this is happening, local people are bringing their children to Jesus, and the text says that the Disciples spoke sternly to them.
It was last week that we talked about stumbling blocks from Mark 9:42. In God’s ever-expanding kingdom, you don’t want to be a stumbling block. And as far as I am concerned, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the Christian Church of any time in the last 2,000 years is stern speech. Head’s up, disciples, your stern speech is being noted. So, Jesus takes these children into his arms and says, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” If Jesus twice now uses children as an illustration of not only who he is but also what the kingdom of God is all about, then we had better sit up and take notice. We had better expand the kingdom with Jesus and watch our stern speech.
Why would Jesus say “that it is to such as these little children that the kingdom of God belongs?” What better way to experience children than to go where there are lots of them – how about an elementary school. I loved going to Lincoln elementary school for activities while my children were students there. There was always an energy in the building. There was learning going on. There was interaction between teachers and students. There were interactions among the very diverse students in the room.
And here is what I love about small children – small children don’t care about skin color, hairstyles, body odor, or the funny sounds a body makes. They don’t care about fashion or the time of day. They don’t care about the kind of car you drive or the color of your team jersey. They do care about being loved, and they do care about loving others. Children don’t care about language either; they can learn whatever language they hear being spoken around them. Give children an hour to make a friend, and it is as if they have had that friend for a lifetime. Small children don’t care about differences. This is what the kingdom of God is all about. To these children belong the kingdom of God.
We older folk, however, find a way to draw lines, don’t we? We do care about who is in our group. We do care about who grew up on the other side of the track (or river). We do care about language, skin color, and ethnicity. We do care about being fans of a particular team. Packer fans hate the Bears. Ohio State fans hate Michigan fans. And yes, we do care a lot about what side of a border somebody comes from.
Jesus welcomed and blessed the little children and said, “ to such as these, the kingdom of God belongs.” On this World Communion Day, how do we look at the world? Whom do we welcome? Whom do we bless?
On World Communion Sunday, may we look at these elements in a new way. May we hold in our hearts the humble truth that every soul upon this earth deserves to know that there is a God of infinite love who cares for them. That there is a God who welcomes the most vulnerable among us. There is a God whose grace is unconditional. We will never convince everybody of this truth but let us make it our mission to give all the love that we can so that others can come a step closer to feeling, knowing, and experiencing the true kingdom of God.