35 He sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.” 36 Jesus reached for a little child, placed him among the Twelve, and embraced him. Then he said, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me isn’t actually welcoming me but rather the one who sent me.”
This week we are focusing on Jesus’ interactions with people who are marginalized.
It is mid-August, and I find myself thinking about the approaching school year. It is that time when those of us who work in schools start to get a little nervous or excited about the return to the classroom. This is a time when we begin to rethink our daily schedules and prepare for what the new year will bring. And I find myself thinking of all of the unique needs and ways of children. This scripture reminds me of all of the wonders of kids: how they ask honest questions and speak plain truths; how they want to engage in natural play; and how they laugh much more easily than adults. It reminds us to love the innocent and to simply help those who need support.
Perhaps the ways of children cause us to look at life and love simply. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus furthers, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14, ESV) Jesus uses a child as an example to remind us to love authentically and with a child’s heart. What a great reminder: to love without so many strings attached!
The irony is that in Jesus’ time –sometimes just like today– children’s words and ways were and are often ignored or discounted. We’ve all seen examples where adults are ignoring whatever a child is saying or doing, or worse, that adults minimize a young person’s efforts. Yet Jesus instead offered children as primary examples of Christian love by pointing to their natural, authentic ways. Jesus wants us to love children and learn to love by the example of their innocent ways.
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
May children remind us that being a Christian doesn’t always have to be complicated. Whenever I am thinking that I am “doing it wrong;” that is to say, that I am not loving others unconditionally, I am reminded of Jesus’ words about children. How do the ways of children bring your life as a Christian into focus?
Prayer: Loving Jesus, thank you for loving us just as we are. Thank you for the example of loving others unconditionally. When we struggle, help us to be reminded of how the simple ways of children can restore our hope and faith in You. Let us hear and know how to love through them. Amen.