Scripture: Matthew 18:1-9
Key verse: (5) “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Reflection: In first century Palestine, children had virtually no value. They were a financial burden and they brought no financial gain. Children weren’t seen as the sweet picture of innocence that we envision. When the disciples asked Jesus “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” I suspect they were thinking about worldly rulers and political figures, or religious leaders and particularly faithful disciples. When Jesus called a child into their midst as an example of greatness, I wonder how they reacted. Perhaps they scoffed, shaking their heads at this foolishness. Perhaps they were puzzled, wondering what this might mean. Perhaps they were challenged, because this reversed all of their understandings of greatness.
How do we think about greatness in our world? Do we think of people who have power, or money, or success? Do we think of people who have education and intelligence? What if greatness in the kingdom of heaven is found among the least expected?
The church welcomes children. Not just because they are cute and say funny things. The church welcomes children because they show us greatness. They have little power (especially until they learn the world’s most powerful word NO), they are dependent on others for care, they have no assets of their own. The church provides care for children, nurturing them physically, emotionally and spiritually. The church strives to be a safe place for children, where they can be protected in every way. When we baptize an infant, we make a promise to guide and nurture children as they grow to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Children are great in the kingdom of heaven!
Prayer: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so! Jesus, transform my understanding of greatness and equip me to welcome children in your name. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[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].