He then took a little child, whom set him among them and embraced, and he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ Mark 9:36–37
O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule my heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
So this morning I paused and thought about what does it really mean to embrace and welcome this little child. Because the context is not that of a little curly headed spunky one who puts on her own bike helmet and her momma’s glasses and her daddy’s big black boots and then smiles for the camera and the adventure of the day. Rather the context is that of the demon-possessed boy who foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid, and who needs prayer in order to cast out the evil spirit.
And the context is that the Son of Man is going to be delivered unto death. And on the third day he will be raised. And the disciples couldn’t think of anything to say.
And the immediate context is “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
All. Every single last one of them.
Embrace and welcome.
And every single day downtown offers up opportunities for prayer. And for death. And for embracing. From the very moment that my foot first hits the Pendleton sidewalk, I am going to find His children, sweaty and smelly and grinding their collective teeth.
Dustin just sent me a link with a texting bing: “Germany’s Refugee Crisis Comes to the Classroom.” And it is one thing to stand in a cheering crowded train station with big brightly colored banners and bags of toothpaste and energy bars. And another to day after day embrace the one, or ones, around the mismatched chairs and desks that form one family-style table at Weidenhof Elementary in the Willkommenskasse. And every day a student from Syria dissolves into tears about halfway through the lesson.
And Cameron has a song about Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and we are the people. I think. Something like that, and my heart rejoices as the Church opens her doors. And sometimes the one is a fifth-grader on the sidewalk around the corner from school who I don’t know her name and it is way late after school and I am tired and she missed her ride and I can’t understand anything that she is saying except that she is weeping and she lives “West.”
And Jack was up early this morning. This is Day 41 of the bus strike. And there is one of his parishioners whose life is turning around after a long, long journey and she can’t get to her classes at Pima West, so he and a few others drive her every day and pick her up every day, way over the Tucson Mountains.
Embrace and welcome. Exactly the same way I embrace that little Everette singing “Twinkle, twinkle little star” at the top of her lungs. Exactly.
Dear LORD GOD, Creator of heaven and earth, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule my heart.
All day long.