Grace that Welcomes (14-02-22)
Bible Reading: Mark 10:13-16
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them,
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
There is a saying ‘Never work with children and animals.’ It originates in the acting profession where they can be distracting and can steal the limelight. There are places today where children are not welcome, including unfortunately some churches where they might be seen to disturb the solemnity of the occasion or distract from the worship or the preaching.
It seems that the disciples had such a view of children, or at least of the appropriateness of them taking up Jesus’ time from more serious matters. So much so that the disciples rebuked the parents who were bringing children to Jesus so that he could bless them.
And yet it was the disciples and not the parents of the children who made Jesus indignant.
In our bible passage Jesus had just come from a theological debate with the Pharisees about the rights and wrongs of divorce and now he takes the children in his arms and blesses them. Jesus, full of grace, welcomes those who even his closest followers would turn away.
It is important that, as Christians, we have good theology, but our theology becomes obsolete if we fail to welcome those whom Jesus wants to bless, whether they are children, teenagers or adults. Actions speak louder than words.
Throughout the gospels the grace of Jesus welcomes all those who feel excluded, all those who the religious leaders of the day would turn away.
I wonder if there are people today who we feel reluctant to welcome into our church or into our homes?
Is there any one you know who feels they would be unwelcome in church? If so, is there anything you, or the wider church, could do so that they feel welcome?
Lord Jesus, forgive us for the times our traditions place barriers in the way of others coming to you.
Help us to be people who welcome the strangers, regardless of their age or their background.
God of grace, amazing wonder