Pentecost 20 – Sunday, October 7, 2018

October 7, 2018  

Mark 10:13-16

Let the children come.”

Everybody loves children (or almost everybody). Children are cute. Children are silly. Children are smart. Children are clever. Children surprise us.

When Jesus said to the disciples “Let the children come” most of us probably heard those words and through “Well yes, obviously. We want children here. Let them come.”

Here’s the thing. When Mark’s gospel was written people did not think children were cute, or silly, or smart, or clever, or surprising. In that time, children were worth about as much as a goat. And if someone was milking the goat, or planning to eat it, children were probably worth less! Children were non-persons.

In biblical times, children had no status. They were possessions on their fathers, just as their mothers were possessions of the father/husband. Children were politically, economically and socially dependent. They had not rights unless their fathers chose to give them some.

Which explains why the disciples didn’t want any children bothering Jesus. The children were in the way. The children were unimportant. The children had no reason to be near Jesus. The disciples saw the children as interruptions, as disruptions.

Then Jesus said “Let the children come.”

His words would have shocked anyone there to hear him.

Let the children come.”

To Jesus, those children were real people.

Jesus said Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

Do not mistake this. Jesus isn’t telling us we have to be cute or silly or smart or clever or surprising. Jesus is telling us no one has merit. No one has special status. None of us deserve all of the love and grace God showers upon us. And yet  God loves us. God loves each and every one of us. Always and forever, God loves us.

Like the children in this gospel story, who depended on their fathers for any kind of right or privilege, we are radically dependent on God. God favors us with grace and peace and love.

In gospel times, children were “non-persons.” Who might the “non-persons” be in our time and in our lives. Who are the people we tend not to see? Is it the person who picks up our garbage? Or the person cleaning the toilets? Or is it the person we pass on the sidewalk, whose eyes we don’t meet? The person in the grocery store in line ahead of us? The person standing at a stoplight with a sign, asking for money? They have no name… they have no authority over us. Who are they?

Who are the people we tend not to see?

They are we.

This isn’t one of those “there but by the grace of God goes I.” This is a “There I am.” I am he. I am she. I am they.

You are, I am the most powerless person we know, You are, I am the least rewarded person we know. You are, I am the abandoned. The forsaken.

We all stand before God as equals, receiving the same love. Receiving the same grace. Receiving the same forgiveness.

There is no room for arrogance in God’s kingdom. There is no room for privilege in God’s kingdom. There is no room for those who patronizingly sneer at others, or ridicule others, or abuse others, or disregard others, or regard others as less than… believing this is what God would have them do.

God would not. We must not.
We must
Let the children come.

Amen.