Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sermon for the Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost

‘Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’

When we started our children’s ministry here, this was what we talked about on our first session.
We showed the kids the window at the back of St John’s which depicts this scene.
We got the children to imagine what it would have been like to be one of those children.
What would you talk to Jesus about?
What would you ask him?
They wrote their thoughts and drew pictures about this and we put them on the wall.

Starting with this saying was deliberate.
It was important to let the children know how important they are to God,
that they are as important to him as anyone else.
That in fact, there is something about being a child that is very important to God,
that Jesus tells us adults we need to find or recover for our own salvation.

So, what is it about children that is so important?
How does a child receive the Kingdom of God?

Children are completely dependent for everything.
They depend on their parents for food, clothing, shelter, warmth.
They depend on their parents for love.
There is nothing they can do to earn this.
They can’t buy it,
they can’t do chores for it,
they can’t take out a loan to pay it back,
they can’t do anything like that.

They can only receive everything as a gift.

All a child can do is receive all these things,
which all come from love, as gift.
They are given freely, they are received freely.
A child doesn’t understand stand the concept of dependence.
They just are dependent.
That is the way life is.
Complete dependence, complete acceptance, complete love.
The only thing a child can do in return is love.

That is how we are to receive the Kingdom of God.
We can’t earn our way into it.
We can’t do anything at all to get it.

All we can do is receive it.
All we can do is accept our complete dependence of God for the gift of life.
All we can do is accept that God loves us.

The only thing we can do is love God.

Well that all seems pretty easy.
Love God, and hunky dory, the Kingdom of Heaven is yours.

Unfortunately, we are no longer children.
We are adults.
Some of us have children, grand children, even great grand children.
We are no longer young dependent loving little people.
We are adults with years behind us,
lives that have been filled with unmet expectations, disappointments, fractured relationships, illness, addictions, depression, and unanswered questions.

The little child who once was dependent and only loved in return became an adult with bills to pay,
battles to win,  and an urge to be someone that counted for something.
The little child developed a shell to protect it from the harsh reality of living.
The little child got lost in the world of accomplishment and ego,
and shrunk away hidden as the adult blustered its way into ageing.

It is a terrible tragedy.
This is what Jesus is getting at.
Notice that Jesus is speaking about little children because the disciples are being negative about them:

People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them;
and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it.

Jesus is making a comparison.

But Jesus called for them and said,
‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them;
for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 

You guys reckon you have gotten it all sorted out.
You think you know everything.
That is exactly the problem.
You think you know everything.
You don’t.
The fact that you do think you know everything shows precisely that you don’t.
You don’t get it.
See these children.
They get it.
They don’t think they know anything.
And that is exactly why the Kingdom of God belongs to them.
They are open.
They will see the kingdom of God because they have no preconceived idea of what it is like.
They are open to learn what God is like.

It is very hard for us to get back to this state of unknowing.
It is very hard for us to get back to the state of complete dependence and love that we at some stage we lived in.

It is scarey.
It makes us very vulnerable.
To let go of our preconceptions of who God is, is a big leap of faith.
It takes courage.
It takes humility.
It takes the mind and heart of a child.

And this is exactly what Jesus is telling us.
It is a journey that we need to go on.
And continue to go on.
It takes time.
It takes guts.
It takes patience.
It takes the mind and heart of a child.

It is in that state of unknowing, of letting go, of being open to God that we begin to find ourselves and who we are in God.
And it is in that place,
in that prayer,
that we find the mind and heart of a child.

No comments: