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. 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. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ Luke 18:15-17
A day after the horrific shooting in Connecticut, it is hard not to wonder what to do and to feel helpless. Small children, full of giggles and hugs, silly questions and the normal challenges of growing up, were wiped out. Taken away by another barely grown child. A whole community scared beyond recognition. A whole country bent in grief. Our most precious wealth, our children, taken from all of us.
The disciples wanted to keep the children and their parents away from Jesus. Jesus not only insisted that they be brought to him, but told them that the children of God belongs to children, that we need to open our hearts and minds to God like little children. In this time of grief and loss, a time of examining what we do to our children, may we remember the tenderness of Jesus. It was he who wept with Lazarus, and held these little ones close. God is in the midst of our sorrow and grief and points us to the road of compassion and forgiveness.
Today, may we raise our prayers wherever we are and hold one another close. May this tragedy inspire us all to put down our weapons and work for peace. May we take down defenses and embrace the changes we fear. May we seek forgiveness at all times, knowing God holds the little ones tenderly and welcomes all who will be childlike. May this day mark a new way forward in our lives. May we turn from violence and embrace the innocent. May we turn from self-reliance and turn to God and one another.