As a Child
"Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.' And he laid his hands on them and went on his way." Matthew 19:13-15, NRSV
As we are entering the season of Advent, this is the passage that has been on my mind. This story of Jesus’ response to an encounter between his disciples and those who’d brought children to be blessed is recorded in all three of our Synoptic gospels; you’ll find it elsewhere in Mark 10:13-16 and Luke 18:15-17. Mark’s version quotes Jesus as saying, Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it. I remember hearing this story as a child and wondering what that meant. My teacher explained that it had to do with trusting in God. I wondered about this story even more as I got older; what does it really mean to receive the kingdom of God as a little child?
There’s a footnote in my Bible for Mark 10:15 that says: To receive the kingdom as a child is to depend in trustful simplicity on what God offers. What is it, then, that God offers to us as “residents” of the kingdom that we believe was ushered in by the birth of Christ? What are the promises of Jesus in Scripture? The first thing that comes to my mind is Jesus’ promise that we can trust in God for the things that we truly need. This teaching is found in Matthew’s gospel, 6:25-33. Jesus tells his hearers that they are of more value to God than the birds of the air, whom the Father feeds; and of more value than the lilies of the field, which God clothes in beauty. Therefore, do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you, as well.
There are many other things that God offers to us, which are testified in Scripture. We are offered the promise of God’s steadfast love, and the promise of God’s peace, which passes all understanding. We are promised rest from our heavy burdens, and rest for our wandering souls. Most importantly, we are promised the opportunity of a relationship with the Creator of the universe through trust in Jesus Christ, who came to us as Emmanuel, “God with us.” The words of Jesus in Luke 11:9-13 remind us that we serve a God who knows how to give good gifts, through the presence and power of God’s Spirit. What do you need to ask of the Lord, today?
During this season of Advent, I’m going to be first looking at the foretelling of the Messiah in the Old Testament, and then preaching from Luke’s gospel as we remember once again the story of the coming of God into our world in the person of Jesus Christ. Here are my planned texts from Luke, in case you want to read ahead: Dec. 9th, Luke 1:5-25; Dec. 16th, Luke 1:26-38; and Dec. 23rd, Luke 1:39-56. At our Christmas Eve service on Dec. 24th, we’ll hear the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2, and then for our Dec. 30th worship in Holman Hall, I plan to look at the story of the boy Jesus at the Temple from Luke 2:41-52.
These passages we’ll examine during Advent are the beginning of the New Testament story of the promises of God. Will you receive the promises? Will you trust in God for love and sustenance and peace? Will you trust in God for rest, for your body and your soul? Will you trust in the promise of relationship that God offers to you in Jesus Christ? May it be so.
With prayers for your journey,
Connie Weaver, Pastor