Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year B
Sunday, October 7, 2012
As I prepared for this coming Sunday, I did a lot of reading concerning the gospel text. Many megabytes were spent talking about the first half of the Mark text, which centers on divorce. That makes sense, on one level. We see many marriages that seem to break up, leaving the children is a not so good place.
When it comes to that second half of the text, the one about Jesus welcoming the children, well that one got the short shrift. I didn't find anyone that did an exegesis of the this part of the reading, let alone really focus on what this passage is saying. I think part of the reason that we do this is because we think we know this story. We have seen many an image of Jesus seated with a bunch of kids around him ala a children's sermon. What is there to question or learn from something so obvious? Jesus liked children. How sweet.
Look at this text again. Parents are bringing their kids to Jesus hoping he would touch them. We don't know why they are doing this, but for some reason it is vital that Jesus bless their children. The disciples are a little preturbed that these little ones are bothering Jesus. What happened next? Jesus got angry. At the disciples. Jesus tells the disciples that children are at the center of God's kingdom. If we don't come to faith in God like a little child then we won't see the kingdom.
I've learned what it means to have a child-like faith from the children at the church where I serve. They are not shy about sharing their thoughts on God and are great at applying the stories they hear to life in general. These kids ask questions. They share what they have learned. The can be fearless. And they are vulnerable. They are always open to learning.
The Pharisees were learned men and thought that faith was about how smart and how cunning you can be. Jesus reminds us at the end of the passage that God is not interested in our smarts, but is interested in child-like hearts ready to learn, ready to be loved.
May it be so with us.
Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church in Minneapolis.