Scripture: Mark 10:1-16
Key verse: (14b) “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs”
Reflection: In 2015, a psychology professor named Sydney Engelberg gained Internet fame when one of his students posted a picture of him lecturing his class while holding a baby. The backstory to the photo is that one of his grad students, a young mother, was going to have to miss class because her childcare had fallen through. When she contacted Engelberg to let him know, he encouraged her to bring the child with her. When the child began to get restless and she prepared to take the baby out – meaning that she would miss the lecture – her professor simply came over, and without missing a beat, picked up the child and continued on with the lecture. The child quieted in his arms, the distraction was averted, and the class went on.
When asked about the moment, Engelberg said he didn’t want to teach about “leadership, engagement, empowerment, and respect” in his classroom if he wasn’t also prepared to act on those things on behalf of his students. And so, he modeled what he taught. Through his actions, the mother was able to stay in the conversation. Talk about empowerment and respect!
Jesus was always teaching that “the least of these” belong in the center of the kingdom of God. He said this in different ways along the way: “the last shall be first,” “the meek shall inherit the earth,” and “blessed are the poor” are just a few iterations of the theme that come to mind. Here, he models what he teaches. Jesus is in the temple lecturing about a difficult subject, and people kept bringing their children to him so that he might touch them. We can assume, then, that these children might have been in need of healing — or at least in need of a blessing. And when the disciples tried to stop the people, Jesus became angry, and insisted the children be allowed to come to him. He does what he teaches. He includes “the least of these” in the center of his ministry.
The most compelling witness the church can have is to do what it teaches. If we proclaim a God of forgiveness, we ought to extend mercy to others — and even to ourselves. If we talk about a God of love, we might examine all of our ministries by the standard of that love — how we are sharing it, how we are showing it. If we talk about a God who brings hope, we might find ways to share hope with our neighbors in tangible ways today, as we watch and wait for God. In all these ways, we might begin to know the Jesus who welcomes the little children, and even us.
Prayer: I want to practice what I preach, O God, but often struggle to know how to do that. Help me to listen to your leading Spirit, that I might live in a way that more fully reflects the things I have learned from you to value. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].