AND A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM
“A little child shall lead them.”
gospel, after Jesus told the disciples he must die, they argued with themselves
on the road about who among them was the greatest.
found out what they had been arguing about, he said to them, “whoever wants to
be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
Then he held a
little child in his arms and said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
hardly the only time Jesus uses a child to make his message.
In the very
next chapter of Mark, this happens.
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.’ Then he took the children up in his
arms, laid his hands on them and blessed them.”
times, in Matthew and Luke, Jesus says much the same thing about children.
So, what is it
about children that Jesus so admires?
I don’t know
for sure, but I have some ideas.
‘guileless’, innocent, without deceit.
trusting and depend upon those around them to protect them.
open to possibility, longing to learn and know, excited about being alive.
gentle, curious, loving and wanted to be loved.
them and tells us to welcome them in his name and to ‘be like them’ to enter
So why do
children suffer so much in this country and around the world?
There are 3
million cases of child abuse reported each year in the US. That’s 9000 a day.
And that’s JUST the cases that GET REPORTED!
6 of 10 girls
and 4 of 10 boys will be sexually abused in some way before they are 18.
of children’ is rampant—‘neglect’ includes lack of food and shelter. Lack of
affection. Lack of supervision, education and medical or dental care.
This is what
the world does to those Jesus loves.
I spent two
years as a Child Protection worker in Fairmont, WV, before I went back to
finish seminary and be ordained.
Much of abuse
and neglect stems from income inequality in this country. Some families just
don’t have the means to provide adequately for children. The current
administration is working to correct that and bring millions of children out of
poverty. God bless them.
I could remove
a child from a poor family with no trouble. But I had a case when I knew a
young boy was being abused by his mother. I went to court 4 times to seek his
custody, but his father was a doctor and their lawyers stopped me every time.
Finally, his mother killed him.
She spent one
year in the county jail and then was freed.
A song from my
Sunday School days went like this: “Jesus loves the little children/all the
children of the world/red, yellow, black brown and white/they are precious in
his sight/Jesus loves the little children of the world”.
And so must
we, beloved, and do all in our power to keep them safe.