This is my final contribution to the Methodist Church daily Bible study. Thanks to those who have commented on each day’s posts here.
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’
John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’
Psalm: Psalm 76
I recall a conversation with two elderly ladies bemoaning the way children had stopped going to what they called Sunday School. Interestingly, they hadn’t been to church for years either!
Their father had once been superintendent of the town’s largest Sunday School with 400 children each week. One of the sisters said: “And every Sunday they came, sat in rows on the floor and not one of them dared move. They were completely silent because they knew what would happen if they made a peep.”
I suggested it wasn’t much fun. “It wasn’t supposed to be fun,” she said.
Another church I know realised their work with children and families had virtually died and so began afresh, concentrating on babies and parents; building from the ground up. It started with radical welcome, games, new equipment and ensuring that the families always felt at home.
Over time and with much love the work has grown until more than 100 children a month – and their families – now engage with that church and hear the gospel in new ways. And it is fun!
As the disciples argued among themselves about who was the greatest, Jesus took someone who in those days didn’t count – a child – and shamed them into understanding the upside-down values of the kingdom of God.
To welcome someone who was discounted in the eyes of society was to open the door for God. It enabled God’s just society to be built and it disabused the disciples of the need to prove themselves better than each other.
What about us? Perhaps our church doesn’t have children but we may well have other marginalised people in or near us. As Jesus said: “the least among all of you is the greatest”.
- What are the issues around greatness that challenge us in our churches? How can we make a difference?
- Is Jesus’ message about children still relevant in a denomination where many churches no longer have a Junior Church or any children connected? If so, how might you and your local church convey that message?