“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” Matthew 19:13-15
Grace and peace to you today!
Disciples of Jesus must learn to see grace in the little things of life.
Matthew recounts one of my favorite stories of Jesus in this telling of his welcome to the children. Jesus was continually being pressed on from every side…a healing here, a casting out of demons there, a banquet with “sinners” over there, and always the desire for teaching and learning about the Kingdom of God…on a hillside, in a boat, at the temple courts. Jesus was a busy guy and sometimes it seems that his disciples were the “handlers”, trying to protect him, watch his schedule, and make sure he is not approached by someone he wouldn’t want to deal with…like children.
Children were not valued much in this culture. They couldn’t “do” anything. Girls of course, wouldn’t even inherit anything. Most adults were too busy with living to pay attention to the children. Except parents are parents wherever you go in the world. And just like parents today want a picture of their child with santa, so too parents sought out Jesus for a simple blessing of their little ones. Like everyone else, they no doubt pressed in on Jesus. The ever vigilant disciples said “No!”
Jesus never missing an opportunity to teach etched these words in his followers and most likely every follower since. “Let the children come to me. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such.” The small. The insignificant. The useless. Jesus not only welcomes them but declares His Kingdom is made for them. Jesus seems to always see grace in the little things.
One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is filling the stockings of my children (and now daughters-in-law and grandchildren). I look for good deals on simple items all year long. As they have grown and the items have gotten a bit larger, we have had to buy new stockings. The old ones just weren’t big enough. One of the things that is always in the stockings is chocolate. York Peppermint patties for sure, but then I look for chocolate bars and candies that are not so usual. Not a lot necessarily, but unusual. Home Goods is often a place I find what I am looking for.
After scoring a few days ago I was thinking about the simple joy I get from buying non-traditional stocking stuffers. My children love it and I realized it is one of those simple acts of grace in my life that I have often taken for granted.
My friend Kelly got out of prison a month ago. He had to stay on site at the Salvation Army for 30 days (which felt kind of like prison, but a better). I am picking him up tomorrow at 10 am to spend the day at our house. We will grill ribs, watch football, and Lisa is having us make cookies. Kelly and I have been looking forward to this day for over 4 years. Today on the phone he asked me if we were going to stop for coffee. We have talked about that for a long time as well. A simple visit to the coffee shop with a friend. An act of grace. A delight. A joy.
How many do we miss?
In these days that have been so harsh, it seems to me that disciples of Jesus need to get back to the simple act of finding grace in the small things. And rejoicing in the life they give to us.
Lord Jesus, give me a mind to understand and eyes to see and a heart to appreciate the small acts of grace that are all around me. Amen.