Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Little Children

Then little children were being brought to Jesus in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
Then someone came to him and said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "I have kept all these; what do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:13-22 

I spent the weekend outside Calgary, Alberta with a group of Anglicans and Lutherans from both sides of the border. The intent of the conference was for the church to begin to learn how to live in right relations with Indigenous peoples. It was a powerful gathering. We heard, over and over, the residential school stories from many elders there. Maybe the church and the government, in the US and Canada, thought they were fixing the Indian problem by bringing the children to Jesus.  So many children were taken from their families, robbed of their language and culture,  taught that we were inferior. Maybe the initial intent was good, but it broke the hearts, minds and spirits of thousands. Sweet innocent little children thought they had to change to be loved by God.

Jesus again confronts the well meaning disciples and the wealthy young man in all of us. We feel the urge to help and fix the less fortunate, or those who seem different to us. But we are invited to come to God, just as we are, and to invite others to come, just as they are. We are not asked to do God's work in order to oppress and change others. We are invited instead to do God's work by humbling ourselves and knowing God's blessings in the unique gift of others.

Today I ask God to help me listen to others and see God's hand in their lives. May we strip ourselves of those things that keep us from loving others. May we serve God by serving others today.

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