Jesus Blesses Little Children
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.
I have normally heard this passage understood as a teaching about coming to God with a childlike faith – one that is said to be innocent, trusting, etc – But this morning, I heard it in a different way. While there’s no water here in the passage, I thought about baptism – specifically about infant baptism. I am a pastor in a tradition that baptizes infants and I love the blessing of being able to celebrate the sacrament in that way for children and for families. I love the way that an infant can only receive this gift – there’s nothing they are doing to effect receiving the water. They haven’t chosen, they haven’t earned it, haven’t taken a class to gain the right…its a gift given to them. I don’t remember anything of my baptism – I remember the stories that my parents have told me about it, but it took place before I have any recollection of it. I just know it happened. An infant being baptized is a beautiful representation of the undeserved, unearned, gracious gift of God that we have received. Try as we might, we don’t earn our life in Christ – it is a gift given to us. We are given this gift for the same reason a parent cares for a child – love for this little one. So, when we come to Jesus, maybe this passage is calling us to come with thanksgiving upon thanksgiving for the gift that we have been given.
(BTW, a call out to my wonderful wife – the stole in this picture was made by her along with another similar one – we wore these the days that we participated in our childrens’ baptisms).