Since I started work in ministry to young people, some years ago, there’s been one Bible reading more than others that has always stuck with me. It’s from the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10.
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.
This reading has always stuck with me because I think it gives us a model in which we should treat children among us. In this story parents are bringing their children to Jesus to be blessed and the disciples were trying to move them away, no doubt they thought Jesus was too busy to have to deal with little children like this. Perhaps they thought he had more important things to do like teach or heal, however, Jesus realised what was going on and insisted that the children be brought to him. This, I think, shows us a model of welcome that should always be offered to children. Too often in society, not just in Churches, children are shunned away and ignored. Yet, this passage challenges us to extend an open welcome to children among us.
Recently, though, I’ve been challenged to look at this reading in a different way. When Jesus tells the gathered crowd that the kingdom of God belongs to these children it’s not simply saying that children are also welcomed. He’s going further than that and saying that children are the example for adults and we should be led by these children.
I think the example of the leadership of young people has never been more evident that the events of the past few weeks. The passion and strength with which young people have advocated for action on Climate Change has been something to behold. This all culminated in the worldwide Climate Strikes last Friday, with close to 80,000 people marching in Sydney and similar numbers replicated across the world. I continue to be amazed at how articulate and confident young people are, willing to speak truth into situations.
In a small microcosm I saw the similar passion, strength and articulateness from our Year 6 boys at Lindfield this week as they presented in their Exhibition. I was blown away at the confidence and knowledge of every boy, the research they had put into complex issues and the ingenious solutions that they had come up with. These 11 and 12 year old boys were able to speak about complex issues better than many people four times their age.
Time and time again I continue to be struck by the insights and the strength of young people, in so many contexts. And always I can’t help but come back to this Bible Reading and the challenge from Jesus, ‘how can we be led by the children and young people in our midst’. It’s a challenge that I encourage others to take up, be willing to listen to the young people around us and be open to their leading in our lives.
I wish all our Lindfield families a safe and happy holiday break and look forward to seeing everyone back next term.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Richard La’Brooy