Mark 10:13-16

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

If these verses are giving you a bit of déjà vu it is because this is the second time in two chapters that Jesus reached for children to make his point. In the 9th chapter it comes on the heels of his teaching about servant leadership. Here, it follows his teaching on divorce.

The disciples don’t like it. They don’t want to be interrupted. Which also might mean that they are not really open to being challenged or taught by Jesus. But Jesus steams ahead anyway.

As I said yesterday, absent a home full of violence and abuse, the impact of divorce on the lives of children is profound. There is no escaping that or pretending it away. I have no doubt that “What about the children?” enters into the thinking of any parent contemplating a divorce. That is a good thing. It means that the parents will be open to talking, reassuring, partnering, and seeking professional help where it is needed.

But that is certainly not the only time when the question “What about the children?” is vital.

The story says that people were bringing little children to Jesus so that he might bless them. We don’t know what that was about other than a sign that those parents wanted the very best for their children – which could very well include the blessing of a holy man. We all want the very best for our children, don’t we?

In these turbulent days in which we live I am particularly mindful of the ongoing effects of the coronavirus and all that we are seeing and hearing in the aftermath of the tragic murder of George Floyd. These mark both fresh trauma and deep-seated long-term trauma. We are seeing how people react – commonly they resort to fight, flight, or freeze. They lash out. They blame and deny. They get stuck in shock. We are seeing this all around us.

Increasingly I’m wondering how the lingering effects of childhood and parenting bear out in issues like systemic racism. Children aren’t both with an innate knowledge of the social constructs around skin color or the other things that differentiate people. How do they learn? By observation. Chance comments. Emotionally charged statements. What people find humorous. How parents react in different environments. What they see on TV. What they discover on the internet. Children pick up on all of that.

Sometimes children adopt the worldviews of their parents. They usually get rewarded for that. And sometimes children react against the worldviews of their parents. This creates conflict. It sometimes leads to an even deeper level of trauma. Again – fight, flight, or freeze. It takes an awful lot of work, education, and life experience to grow beyond the patterns instilled in childhood.

No wonder Jesus picked up the children and blessed them even if it bugged the disciples. Let those with ears, hear.

Let us pray: Be with us, Lord, as we come to terms with how deeply impacted our lives have been, for good and ill, from the experiences of our childhoods. No one comes out unmarked, even wounded. Help us grow. Help us heal. Help us always consider what is best for children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

2 Responses to “Mark 10:13-16”

  1. Keith Says:

    Amen.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you Rev.

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