A CHILD? I’M AN ADULT!
“Anyone who does not welcome the Kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it”
Jesus speaks these words to his disciples. These were the adults who pushed the children away so they wouldn’t “bother” Jesus. They made a mistake. Jesus wanted to be near them, to “put his hands on them and to give them his blessing”. (Mark 10:16)
Why would Jesus’ disciples have made such a mistake? Is it because Jesus was to be about his business only with adults? Was it part of their culture that adults lived in their world and children in theirs? We can only imagine.
When I was a child we were taught that we were separate. In my Grandparents house we may have eaten sometimes with the grownups but we had a “children’s table”. Children were often “to be seen and not heard” especially when adults were around.
“Welcome the Kingdom of God like a child”, what is that? The “reign of God”, another similar phrase, does not mean much in today’s language. It may be easier for us if we call it the “Beloved Community”, as some Christian denominations do.
What is it about “little children” that captured Jesus’ imagination? Children are honest and express themselves easily or “say what they think”. Adults may think the same things, i.e., “that person is too fat…that food tastes like dog poop…that hat is ugly…that person is so loud”, but we would not dare to say it aloud.
Little children are openly affectionate. They will run and hug you as you walk in the door. They will climb into your lap and give you a kiss. They will hold your hand or make you chase them and catch them with giggles. They love to laugh.
Little children trust you. They go through the “terrible two’s” to learn their own authority and then they know it is good to follow your adult directions. When you tell them something is harmful, they will listen.
Little children are fascinated with life and living creatures. They can watch a caterpillar or butterfly or bird or insect for a good while. Their curiosity is easily peaked.
Little children express awe. They let themselves be touched by a sunset, a deer loping across a suburban lawn or garden, waves on a beach or the vastness of an ocean. Beauty is held and relished.
Jesus spoke of “the Kingdom of God, the Reign of God” as all God has/had given us: the earth and our stewardship of it, the world and our responsibility for it, the Beloved Community and our participation in it. Maybe Jesus had heard the words of Sirach/Ecclesiasticus that explained how much God loves us and gives us…and Jesus wants us to love God and God’s gifts as a child.
We, sophisticated adults, could learn a thing or two from our “little children”.
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