Saturday 26 February 2011

Bible Book:

"Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs." (v. 14)

Mark 10:13-16 Saturday 26 February 2011


If God's love for us is a gift to be received with humility,then Jesus demands that it is also a gift to be shared. After all,the task of showing and sharing God's love is what his entireministry and death boils down to. It places God before self; itshows love to be self-giving.

Well of course, we might say. For the Christian disciple, is thatnot stating the obvious? But in practice, these verses suggest thatthe committed disciple may be protective of the gift she receives,to the exclusion of others.

In The Innocent Anthropologist, Nigel Barley writes about his firstvisit to live with the Dowayo tribe in Cameroon. There he becameknown as someone with access to simple remedies for some commonailments. He discovers, however, that his loyal translator - alocal man - is turning potential patients away, ostensibly toprotect Barley's privacy. The real reason is that the translatorfeels his own privileged position to be under threat. He is anxiousthat Barley should remain aloof from others in the community and soreinforce his own exclusive knowledge and special status.

Traditionally, we are invited to think that, in turning away thosewho have brought their children to Jesus for a blessing, thedisciples are merely protecting Jesus from the pressures ofcelebrity. But might they not as easily be wishing to protect theirown celebrity-by-proxy? Once part of an inner circle, it is hardnot to allow the establishment of a two-tier system, howeversubconsciously - those in the know and those who are not.

So naturally Jesus chides the disciples and says that all littlechildren should be welcome in God's kingdom. That is surely one ofthe reasons we are so happy when little children are part of ourchurch congregations: they are signs of God's kingdom… Except thatthis is not just about cute little children. It is about sharingGod's love with anyone who is part of our community, whether or notthey bring a smile to our faces.

To Ponder

Who do we find it hardest to include within ourcommunities of faith?

Many of us like our faith communities to beplaces where 'everyone knows our name'. But how might it feel forvisitors or newcomers entering such a community?

Apart from in little children, in who else do wesee signs of God's kingdom?

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