Sunday, 4 November 2018

Sunday of All Saints ---- 4 November 2018



Revelation 21:1-6a
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.
·       The Book of Revelation is an odd one. I’d recommend you read it but if you do, have a book called a “Bible commentary” nearby. It is hard to understand and it can be terribly confusing. It is full of symbols and signs and monsters. I’ve always felt the book reads like a fever dream nightmare for the middle of the book. The beginning is written to a number of Christian communities in the Roman Imperial province of Asia (now western Turkey) and the ending chapters are written to the universal church. The central chapters are written to the church in general as well, but those are the hard ones to read.
·       In our times and for many centuries before us, the emphasis has been on the middle of the book. Many readers saw it as a roadmap of history-to-come, a prediction of the troubles the church and all humanity would endure. That is not why the book was written.
·       The book was written to give hope to a church suffering persecution. It was a dark time for the church with the regime of the emperor Nero pushing against the church and with many Christians falling away from the church. Hope was in short supply and the writer – often thought to be John the Evangelist in exile on the island of Patmos – delivered a message of hope to the suffering Church.
·       Our passage today is a hopeful ones. All creation is made new, both heaven and earth. The sea, a place of terror, chaos, and mystery to the Jewish people, a symbol of all that is like the formless chaos before God’s creation, is done away with. A “new Jerusalem” descends to earth from God, and the writer uses the image of the beauty of a bride on her wedding day. The voice of a heavenly herald proclaims that God will dwell with the people, not in some distant heaven. All tears will be wiped away, because death and mourning and pain will be no more and the first things have passed away.
·       Then we hear the one who was seated on the throne say "See, I am making all things new." The broken world would be made right, not demolished and started over, not repaired, but renewed. To the persecuted church of John’s time, this was hopeful news.
·       And what about us? Our custom for All Saints Sunday is to remember those who have recently died and even more, to remember any of our family, friends, and all the people in our lives who are held in love. Their lives are celebrated and remembered with candles, church bells, and Scripture. This reading from Revelation is quite appropriate for we look forward to a renewal of creation. Not an existence on some cloud we might call heaven, but a true resurrection, following where Jesus led.
·       We hope for and wait for something else, something hinted at in the Revelation of John: See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them… How that will be remains to be seen; That it will be is promised to us. Who knows? There might be challenges, but we are assured that he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more…
·       So we live in hope, not in despair. We live in hope for a future, a real future of life and not futility and loss. We look forward and believe in a life with God among us.
·       The greatest mystery of all of this is simply that the life with God among us begins now. Our baptism brought us into the life of God and that life will not be taken from us by death.
·       Today we heard Isaiah speak of God’s kingdom as a banquet. We heard John tell of a new Jerusalem where God would life with all of God’s people. In the Gospel, John gives us the word of Jesus to the once-dead Lazarus: "Lazarus, come out!" and then "Unbind him, and let him go."
·       All of God’s creation will be unbound and called to new life. And are not we and our loved ones part of God’s creation?
"See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away."

W

Monday, 29 October 2018

Reformation Sunday --- 28 October 2018


{This sermon was delivered at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Aylmer, ON}


Romans 8:19-28
   Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
§  How many times have we heard this passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans? It’s used every year for Reformation Day, and it is quite important. As often as we’ve heard it, I still wonder if I realize what it means.
§  The word “justification” is used. This is a legal term and usually means acquittal of charges. In this case, to be justified means to be freed from the punishment that follows sin and the guilt of sin. It is more than freed because it is freely given to all without distinction, even though all without distinction are undeserving.
§  This justification is tied to both faith and righteousness. The righteousness is God’s – not ours - and we see it with the eyes of faith.
§  This justification comes through faith, but it is not earned by faith as a deserved reward for believing.
§  More likely, we might say it is “realized” or “discovered” by faith. Faith in the promises of God in Jesus Christ permits us to know and to see such justification. Think of it in this way: Imagine your surprise when opening an unexpected gift on Christmas and finding there something precious to you.
§  Where there is no realization that it –justification - is there, there could be no acceptance or ownership of it. We could not realize what a gift it is unless we see it as a gift.
§  Through faith, there is knowledge of God’s grace, acceptance of what God offers and has done, and trust in what God has promised us as a gift.
§  And what a surprising gift it is! It is unmerited. It is undeserved. And it is unlooked-for.
§  Salvation costs nothing. It is a gift that requires no price or payment. Gratitude and discipleship are the lifestyle that flows from it. When we get down to it, discipleship may come to cost everything. There are those whom we celebrate on our church calendar for whom discipleship took the last measure of devotion, as has been said.
§  This is not a Lutheran thing only. It has been recognized as a belief of Christians worldwide, although some some churches put the emphasis on different idea.
§  For example, a few years ago, Roman Catholics and many Lutherans agreed upon what is known as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). In it the two churches outlined the area on which they agreed, including but not limited to these two statements.
§  We confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.
§  We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation. Justification takes place solely by God's grace.
§  This sort of understanding of faith, grace, and justification is quite alien to the culture in which we find ourselves, a culture that spotlights riches, power, achievement, and self-glorification. The idea of a free gift leading to eternal life is not easily comprehended by a society that counts success in dollars, counts honour in numbers of trophies, or counts the value of a human person in what use they are to those who would use up and then discard them.
§  So how does it feel to be part of the counter-culture?
§  Some may ask “But I don’t feel forgiven! I don’t feel justified! I still feel guilty!” Actually this is a very human thing, and some might take it as an attack by forces of evil in our lives. It could be both.
§  Here is something that Martin Luther said that may remind us of where our confidence and, really, our faith should lie:
§  You should not believe your conscience and your feelings more than the word which the Lord who receives sinners preaches to you.
§  So who do we trust? Ourselves… who are afraid of mice and carved pumpkins? Or the one who made us (yes, and the mice and the pumpkins), who saved us at the price of his blood, and who calls us and welcomes us everyday? The answer is easy to say, although it might be tough to swallow.
§  Remember…
For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
W

The Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost --- 28 October 2018



(This Sermon was delivered at Trinity Anglican Church, Aylmer, ON)

Mark 10:46-52
{Jesus and his disciples} came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you."  So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
  Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.


"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
·       Today I get to do what I’ve wanted to do for a long time; I’ll be preaching about prayer, using the incident reported in the Gospel story today.
·       Let’s take note of what is done here. The words are simple words. Jesus is addressed and recognized, and the petition is given… all in seven words.
·       These words were not “crafted” (a word I’ve heard used when discussing the prayers and orations used at worship.) These words were shouted by Bartimaeus and Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Were this to happen in church, we call it a disruption and then call the usher… and maybe the police. However, this call came in the middle of a travelling walk.
·       Jesus responds by calling the man over, asking what he wants, and then healing him without ceremony or fuss: "Go; your faith has made you well."
·       Bartimaeus is healed and followed him on the way. Just like that.
·       Of course, prayer and following Jesus is never “just like that” although it is “just like that.”
·       What could we learn about prayer and praying from this brief story? Plenty!
·       The blind man is taken to task for yelling at Jesus. Many in the crowd tried to hush him, but he cried out all the louder. We can take this as a simple lesson: Pray as you can and not as you can’t. We might often feel oddly that we can’t or don’t pray like someone else – whether that is with fine and learned words or with high emotion and flamboyant action. Those things are alright and they are the right way for some people. If that isn’t your way, that’s just fine. Be who you are before God, because God knows the real you and can tell the difference. It is possible that you can make another person’s words yours when joining in public worship or common prayers. One great example of this is praying the Psalms, the Bible’s prayer book.
·       When you pray, pray with real words and real feelings. If you’re angry, pray in anger. If you’re hurt, pray out of your hurt. If you’re sick, you are allowed to say “I can’t pray today.” Remember that God will be just as close.
·       Once again, when you pray, pray about real things, your cares and concerns, and even your fears. If these things are real to you, they are certainly real to God.
·       There are more ways to pray than simply to make petitions and ask for things. You can offer praise; you can express surprise; you can express gratitude – and all of us really should. You can also pray as a way of being in touch with God. In this last case, it is possible to pray without words through a simple awareness of the presence of God in your life and in the world around you. That does take practice, just so you know.
·       As disciples of Jesus, prayer is part of our following as a disciple. When our prayer is honest and open, it will lead to things we might never have expected. It is possible to have prayer change us. That can be a frightening and wonderful thing.
·       The last thing to say has to do with what words or actions or postures or emotions are prayerful. You can pray with words or without them. You can pray with your posture or your body – standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing. You can pray out of any emotion – joy, gratitude, sadness, pain, anger. There is one thing you have to do to pray: you have to want to. That’s all that’s required. The desire to pray is itself a prayer.
·       Bartimaeus wanted to… and was healed… and followed Jesus. And it all began with these words: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

W

The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost ----- 21 October 2018


Mark 10:35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."
  When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
·       Zebedee’s boys, James and John, ask for something they probably haven’t thought through: Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory. I wonder if Jesus rolled his eyes at this request or if he smiled a little smile and chuckled to himself or if he was truly shocked. His response is You do not know what you are asking. Then he asked if they were ready to really walk in his footsteps. Of course they said “Yes! We can!” To that, Jesus says “Okay, you’ll do that. Count on it. But the seating chart… well, it isn’t mine to change.”
·       The rest of the inner circle of disciples overhear this and get rather steamed. Sure, now is the perfect time for a lesson on kingdom relationships.
·       Just to be clear, the cup Jesus refers to is usually taken to be his Passion (My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.  Matthew 26:39) The baptism he speaks of is the crucifixion. None of this seems glorious in the usual sense of the word. To many, it appears to be a defeat.
·       What this does reflect is our constant desire is for glory. Yet we get the opposite, because what we get is the cross. However we don’t see this cross as a defeat.
·       In the history of the Christian Church, this has been a constant struggle. It is often referred to as the theology of glory vs. the theology of the Cross. One jumps to the victory without taking into account any of the pain of the Cross. The focus in on the rewards of victory rather than the costs of that victory. In reality, one focuses on “me” and what I can do for God or what I can do to attain what God has promised. The theology of the Cross focuses on what God in Jesus has done for us and what this means in our lives.
·       Glory speaks of escaping sin and suffering. The Cross tells us of repentance and forgiveness and the acceptance of suffering as a joining to Christ.
·       To put it simply, the theology of glory is about our ascent to God and us saving ourselves while the theology of the Cross is about God’s descent to us and God’s mercy and grace.
·       Salvation by moralism is an example of the theology of glory. Salvation by mystical experiences and special revelations are the theology of glory. Salvation by some philosophical thinking is the theology of glory. All we are left with is salvation by the grace and mercy of God, the centre and key idea of the theology of the Cross.
·       Since theology is often seen as an abstract thing, favoured by the sort of people we call “theologians”, is there a way to translate this into how we live our lives? In fact, in the latter part of the reading, the words of Jesus illuminate this.
·       Tyranny vs. servanthood are ways that these opposing theologies are lived out. If we are dedicated to have our own way and making ourselves great, we live out the theology of glory… and the one we glorify is that creature we call “me.” This sounds pretty selfish and it does not reflect Jesus Christ. The opposite stance is often called “servant leadership”, which does NOT mean doing what everyone else wants. That would be a situation of anarchy and no leadership at all. It really means true service and a life modeled on Jesus’ own life.
·       For Jesus summed up his life like this: For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

W

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost ---- 14 October 2018



Mark 10:17-31


17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.' " 20 He said to him, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth." 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?" 27 Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible." 28 Peter began to say to him, "Look, we have left everything and followed you." 29 Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.
·       There are people who say these words refer to a gate – an unknown gate - in the wall of Jerusalem too small for a loaded camel to walk through. The camel would have to be unloaded and made to go through on its knees. I imagine that’d be pretty hard to do. Others have said it refers to the end of a piece of rope that would be very difficult to put through the eye of a needle. Why the end of a rope would be called a “camel”, I’ll never know. I think they’re reaching, trying to make Jesus’ words more acceptable to people.
·       Well, they’re not acceptable. They’re shocking and they should be. They should make us itch and “rutch”* around in our seats. They should make us uncomfortable.
          (* "rutch" - A Pennsylvania German term meaning "squirm" like a young child in             a seat.)
·       The shock of this statement of Jesus about the eye of a needle and a camel consists of its reversal of the common religious wisdom of the time. God blesses some people and you could tell who God had blessed by how much material wealth they had. This is why the disciple were shocked and said Then who can be saved? If the rich and the obviously blessed people found it hard to enter the kingdom of God, what about all the rest of us struggling masses, the people called sinners by the righteous? Jesus’ answer upholds the primacy and power of the grace of God above all else – whether righteousness or riches: For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.
·       Now you’d think that this idea of linking wealth to salvation might’ve gone away over time in the Christian era. I don’t think it has. The preaching of what is called the Prosperity Gospel shows that this idea is alive and well in our own time. There are those who link the Gospel to wealth, saying that faith in God leads to material blessings. It isn’t a long step to get a proportional idea of how much wealth equals how much blessing. This idea implies the opposite which equates poverty with faithlessness.
·       Then who can be saved? is still the question for all of us and the answer remains for God all things are possible.
·       It is grace that saves, not morals or money or devotion. All those things are possible and can be attained through effort… and they can be faked… and corrupted. The grace of God cannot be attained, earned, faked, or corrupted. It is not ours to be messed with.
·       Jesus spoke of the perils of riches even as the young man, whom Jesus looked at with love, walked away: How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" There are those who take Jesus’ further words about all things being possible for God as a sort of “escape clause”; God can do it, even if I remain rich. This appears to be a cop-out or an excuse.
·       The same holds for the perils of poverty. Poverty is tough and not a great life choice, especially if you focus on poverty… or on the lack of wealth.
·       Something is missing here. What did Jesus say to the young man with many possessions? …sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me. If any discussion of this passage leaves that last phrase out – come, follow me – the point is missed.
·       There are poor people who have followed Jesus and the Church has often held them up as examples of Christian life… and rightly so. There are wealthy folk who have followed Jesus as well – kings, queens, nobles, High-borne people in every age, who wore their wealth lightly. They often used their wealth to fund what needs funding. If you need an example, sing the Christmas carol, “Good King Wenceslaus” to yourself; all the verses.
·       So whether you have a full wallet or only two dimes to rub together, the call is then come, follow me. It will always be come, follow me. Then with that challenge, your priorities will fall in line.
Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost --- 7 October 2018



Mark 10:2-16
2 Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" 3 He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" 4 They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." 5 But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, "God made them male and female.' 7 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." 10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." 13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 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. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.
·       This weekend, along with our usual Sunday celebration of the Great Thanksgiving (that’s what “Eucharist” translates to), we celebrate our nation’s festival of Thanksgiving. In Canada, it’s tied to the harvest rather than to a specific historical event.
·       Of course, the readings assigned for this Sunday do not lend themselves to the theme of Thanksgiving… especially as we celebrate it with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. (Or is it ‘dressing’ rather than ‘stuffing’?)
·       Still our reading from Mark’s Gospel can lead us to a true attitude and sense of thanksgiving.
·       For one thing, Jesus speaks again of the kingdom of God and how it comes to us. He uses children as an example of the sort of person the kingdom of God is for. "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” In its own way, this may be harder to handle than the teaching of divorce which I’m sure you all understand is difficult to handle from the pulpit.
·       If we hear Jesus rightly and receive the kingdom as a little child, it does not set us on a road of unquestioning acceptance of statements. All of us who have raised children have gone through the time of ‘the question’, when everything and anything can provoke the question “Why?” Those inquiring minds want to know, again and again.
·       A little child has to receive the world as it is, even if the question of “why?” is a constant one. Somehow they know that they don’t know. They know that things don’t go their way all the time. Rained out picnics are real… and disappointing. Things get broken, and some can be fixed and some can’t.
·       It may seem strange to us to see Jesus use small children as examples of what the kingdom of God is about. They don’t handle doctrine very well. They are small, weak, vulnerable, and lack understanding. They are not ready to deal with the disappointments and defeats life hands us, usually except with tears. And that is the entire point!
·       In Jesus’ time, children were more than expendable. They were nuisances to adults and annoyances to all around them. They simply were not worth the time until they were adults, and so the disciples wanted to shoo them away and not waist the Master’s time.
·       Jesus takes issue with this. Mark goes so far as to say Jesus was “indignant” with his disciples. He told them to let the children into his presence. They were the ones to whom the kingdom of God belongs.
·       The point appears to be to whom the kingdom belongs, not about who will achieve the kingdom, or those who would earn the kingdom. The kingdom of God is one of grace and that grace is offered to those who might not be considered worthy of the Kingdom. So the emphasis on the children; they’re seen as unimportant and beneath recognition… until they’ve done something deserving of it in the eyes of the people who decide who is worth the trouble. But in Jesus’ view, the kingdom is a place where the weak, the fallen, the forgotten – the “nobodies” if you will – are welcomed and valued. It is to the broken and the powerless that Jesus proclaimed the Gospel. That remains the mission of the Church.
·       The beginning of this passage from Mark’s Gospel speaks of a painful reality – the reality of divorce. In truth, the Pharisees who brought this to Jesus didn’t care about those who had experienced divorce. They did it to prove their power and to have Jesus submit to their understanding of power. They hoped to silence him just as Jesus’ disciples wished to silence the small children. But there would be no silencing him. He stood in the middle of the controversy in almost the same way he stood in the middle of the gathering of small children brought so that he might touch and bless them. He spoke hard words, but those hard words cut the power from those who would use their question to further their own views.
·       In the same way, blessing the children showed Jesus to be firmly on the side of those seen as not worth the trouble and those who face a brokenness that is not their own doing… and even those broken by their own doing. Sinners like us have an advocate and a saviour in him who give us better than we deserve.
·       And that’s good news. That’s also something to be truly thankful for. A Christian teacher of the 13th Century called Meister Eckart wrote about Christian thanksgiving in this way: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
W