Last Sunday we gathered, as we usually do around the table. While there was some shuffling of seats & some spilling of coffee we did make it alright and opened in prayer.
Then we began the checking-in, sharing our answers to how old we are in Christ and whether or not it’s possible to simultaneously be mature in Christ and have a child-like faith. Some found the ageing process (well naming an age I should say) challenging, others felt their Christ-age was their current age, some named the age they are with when they accepted Christ as when they were born-again (so a new birthday/age of sorts), others gave general ages — like middle aged, or old enough to no longer be a teenager but not too old to still get in trouble (and need grace of course!). The answers about maturity & child-like faith were fun to hear. At least one named that we’re not fully mature really until death (which is the completion of our baptism). Others named when thinking they’d perhaps finally gotten it (something) well life came through to remind them there was much yet to learn, so humility was a big part of the maturing process (& reminding us we’re not there yet). In the humbling, some also found an invitation to child-like faith, a going back — a needing to focus on and trust fully in God. Some of those around the table have experienced (or are experiencing) grandchildren who are young, and trusting, and have a curiosity and joyful exuberance about life — a way to invite those who are a bit older to see again the world in awe and wonder…perhaps even an invitation to simplicity and a very grounded holding of the moment presenting itself to you (as literally children cannot remember all the things folks who are older can…). Though in short, the discovery was regardless of the age we felt in Christ, no one thought they were totally mature and without growth yet to happen, and it seemed that everyone around the table thought it both possible and actually necessary to be able to be simultaneously mature in Christ and childlike in our faith.
So we turned to scripture, Mt. 18:1-6:
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.New International Version (NIV)
We considered these 6 verses. We heard the text read three times and allowed God to direct our thoughts even in silence in between the readings. It’s peculiar to consider the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is a child, or the example of a child. Do we wonder why a child is the example? Or in what way are we invited by Christ to become like little children? In the NIV rendering, what exactly does it look like to take the “lowly” position of a child? Are we to have no power? Complete trust in God? Question everything? Enjoy creation? Make messes? Expect goodness in others? Cry when we are hurt? Expect fairness in life? What exactly are we to have or do to be like a child?
We noticed of course the harsh warning if we are those who cause one of “these little ones” to fall — it’s harsh! But we asked too, we think of little children, but are we also to think of those who are little children in the faith (which of course is much more expansive/inclusive….perhaps maybe even all of us?)? So what does it mean to think of causing a little one in the faith to stumble? And do we hear the harsh warning? Because…we’re we just saying that we’re not fully mature in Christ; that we are still learning and growing and making mistakes; does the warning hold true for us even if & even when with good desires and intentions the impact is to cause a little one in the faith to stumble? (Is it possible, or does God’s grace cover us?). Questions not fully answered round the table, but perhaps the answering has begun between God & us in the asking of the questions…
So of course homework for the week…a two-part option:
- 1st: Why does God love kids so much?
- 2nd: What is one way (this week even) that you can either:
- receive a child in God’s name? (OR)
- help protect a child from sin?
Looking forward to seeing many of y’all around the table tomorrow morning!
In Christ ~
Rev. Sabrina Slater