Sunday 23 September 2012

Come as a child

The Gospel reading in the lectionary today is Mark 9: 30-37. Jesus and the disciples are on a journey towards Jerusalem. Along the way the disciples were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus decides to teach the disciples by bringing a small child and standing him among them, a tiny little figure. We can imagine that maybe Jesus picked the child up and possibly even sat him on his knee, as an example of those who have no status yet have everything. What a beautiful image! Who is the greatest? Who will welcome this little child?

We try so hard to be successful, to get it right, to be special and to be valued. We put so much effort into self-validation that we somehow lose the plot. There is a story, you may have heard before, of a couple who had just given birth to their second child. As soon as the newborn was brought home from the hospital, the two-year-old son asked to hold the smaller child. But when the infant was put into his arms, the boy would specify that he wanted to be ALONE with the baby. Understandably, the parents were unsettled and didn't think this was a good idea.
Anyway, a few months went by and still the two-year-old insisted that he wanted to be alone with the baby. The parents put it off as long as they could, hoping that the older kid would forget, but his demands just got more and more persistent. Finally, they agreed to leave the two very young children in a room alone for a few minutes. Standing just outside the room, they listened for anything out-of-the-ordinary, while their son was FINALLY alone with the baby. And this is what they heard.
The two-year-old said to the newborn: "Tell me what God is like, cause I'm starting to forget.."

God wants us to come as a child; vulnerable, humble and with nothing. All of our other attempts at self-validation will finally fail, but we will always be a child of God. I wonder if you have allowed your inner child to surface lately. Many of us are afraid of our inner child and keep him or her securely locked away. I can only speak from my own experience, that when I let my inner child approach God I get to know God on a whole different level.
I wonder how easy it is for you to be that little child that Jesus took upon his knee. Maybe it is more comfortable for us to be associated with the disciples and their attempts to outdo each other. Become the least, and you will become the first. 

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