Jesus paid particular attention to those who were most vulnerable in his society. Children were among those vulnerable people. Jesus healed a number of sick children during his ministry in Galilee.
As Jesus ministers to the children in this passage from Mark, it seems to me he is leading a service of worship. Jesus takes the children in his arms, the way a minister would hold an infant or toddler during baptism. Jesus lays hands on the children; today Christians still practice the laying on of hands. Jesus blesses the little ones as they end their time together, much as a worship leader blesses the congregation at the end of the worship service.
Jesus’ interaction with those children leads me to a question: If Jesus worshiped with those who came to him as vulnerable children, what does that say about how we should come to worship? So often we enter worship with outsized expectations of the sermon or the music or the attendance. When we come to worship with those expectations, we may miss the simple benefit of just being in God’s presence. Instead, we may want to try entering worship as a child—expecting foremost to be held in God’s arms, prayed for, and blessed.
I hope that in each of our churches and homes, children will be valued, prayed for, and blessed. I hope that children and vulnerable adults will be protected. I hope that in our schools and communities, children’s safety and health will be of utmost importance. As we recall our responsibilities toward children, we can pray to remember this teaching of Jesus and approach our worship of God with a childlike spirit of openness and trust.
Lord God, I thank you for the way you hold me, and indeed the whole world, in your hands. Lord Jesus, I thank you for welcoming me with open arms. Lord Holy Spirit, I thank you for praying for me and with me. Amen.
This week we read about Job, an upright man who faces severe trials but never loses his faith. Job’s story brings us face-to-face with the fact that living a godly life does not make us immune to suffering. Like Job, the psalmist wonders why he suffers, even though he lives according to God’s standards. Hebrews presents Jesus as the ultimate example of unwarranted suffering, yet because of his perseverance he is ultimately glorified. In Mark, some Pharisees test Jesus on the interpretation of the law concerning divorce. Jesus makes strong statements about marriage, but his larger concern is that their hearts have become hard. He contrasts them with little children, who model faith by receiving God with an open heart.
Read Job 1:1; 2:1-10. What helps you to live with integrity?
Read Psalm 26. Do you feel free in your prayer life to honestly share with God all that you are feeling?
Read Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12. In what ways does God speak to us in our day?
Read Mark 10:2-16. What qualities found in children do you try to cultivate in your spiritual life?
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