Mark 9:33-37New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Who Is the Greatest?
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 10:13-16New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Blesses Little Children
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them, and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 4 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
I start my reflection this month with two readings about Jesus and Children. We have got a grant for a youth and family worker from the Congregational Federation. I thought we should reflect as a church and think where we see the young people in our church. In verse 37; Jesus says “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent Me.”, so in welcoming the child, we welcome Jesus and then God. God in Christ is a child, God the son – God the Child. What might Jesus have meant? Well the children the disciples were stopping coming to Jesus might not have been cute, quiet, good little children, they were children in all their forms, interested, curious, children who wanted to see what was going on. If we look at Zachariah chapter 8 verses 4-5,
4 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.
Children, playing, in an adult only space? Children, valued as children, disruptive, unpredictable? The Kingdom of God belongs to those who play, receive the kingdom as one who plays. In Jesus time, children were a burden until they could earn, classed no higher than a slave sometimes, they were at the bottom of the social ladder, victims of violence some abandoned. Yet Jesus says let the little children come to me. He did not say let the children come and be quiet in the other room. He did not say let them come as long as they do not distract. He did not say the Kingdom of God belongs to them when they understand it properly (would that mean our way?).
What might Jesus have meant? Could it be that the Kingdom involves a bias to the little ones, the last, and the weakest? Is this an upside down bible? To be a child is, therefore, to see the world through the experience of a child. Paul says Ephesians 5:8, ‘For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light’ — to receive the kingdom of God with the experience of all little ones, we should not use our Adult understanding as obstacles in front of them. They do not see God in the same way
The word for play in Hebrew is Isaccing, it also means, Laugh, dance, and rejoicing. But how do we see playing as part of our church? How do we welcome children into our church? Jesus said if we do not receive the Communion? Rules, concerning Baptism? Rules for what they can get involved with and how they act?
I wonder if you would like to Pray and reflect on the Children’s work here at Lapford church, and then come and talk to me about what you think. The Springers are short of helpers. Sunday school needs some new ideas. How can we contact the Children in the village who meet on the street? How can we include the youth who do attend church and support their walk with God? How can we include them in our services, worship and bible study? Lots of questions and I am sure you can think of more; pray and listen to God.