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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Today’s Reading | Matthew 19:13–15
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. (NRSV)
A poem I read years ago said, “A child need not be clever / To learn that, Later dear, means never.” To a busy parent, teacher, or pastor, the temptation to put off a child can be hard to resist. Sometimes all you want is to complete a thought without interruption, much less an actual task like going to the bathroom.
It seems reasonable to believe Jesus enjoyed the play and company of children. The images of a smiling Jesus lifting a little girl into the air or telling a story to a little boy on his lap are sweet to hold. But I noticed that Jesus does not say, “Let the little children come to me; I love being with them.” I think Jesus had something more profound in mind when he chided his disciples for trying to send the children away.
The way Matthew tells the story, Jesus was a masterful teacher. The arrangement of Matthew’s Gospel reflects the image of Jesus as someone who spoke thoughtfully and purposefully. I can imagine the disciples and parents looking at the children skeptically as the adults took in Jesus’ words.
With those simple words, Jesus elevated the status of children within the community of faith from rug rats to rabbis. If the kingdom of heaven belongs to children, then I want to know why; I want to learn what a child has to teach me about my salvation. Surely no one who witnessed the interaction that day could look at children in the same way.
Dear God, thank you for reminding me that there is something special, even holy, about children. Help me bring time, patience, and a listening heart to my interactions with children so we might teach each other about your love. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.
Written by Patty Jenkins, Director of the Center for Life and Learning
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