Bible readings for Sunday, Oct. 2, 2021

Introduction

Today’s gospel combines a saying that makes many of us uncomfortable with a story we find comforting. Jesus’ saying on divorce is another of his rejections of human legislation in favor of the original intent of God’s law. Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples who are fending off the children should challenge us as well. What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a child does?

Readings and Psalm

Overview

Who Would Jesus Bless Today?

Many Bibles include a heading before the latter part of today’s gospel reading (Mark 10:13-16) that says something like “Blessing the Children” or “Jesus Welcomes the Children.” In reading such a heading, we might begin to imagine a sentimental scene in which Jesus is surrounded by cute, adorable children. When we think about children being blessed in our churches today, we might imagine children gathering around the altar or at the front of the worship space for a children’s time, in which the pastor or worship leader would say a prayer with them and give them a blessing. The parents and others may also be gathered just behind the children, smiling in adoration of these young ones.

However, we cannot view the scene from Mark’s gospel with only our modern understanding of the role and place of children in society. The life of many children in North America is one of relative privilege, with carefree days in which they often experience the care and love of grown-ups. Jesus, by bringing the children to him, identifies himself with those who were among the most vulnerable and helpless in society. In ancient times, children often were treated like property. They had few protections from those who would treat them badly. But Jesus came into the world for ones such as these children. Who, in our communities, is in the place of the children of ancient times? As Christ’s church, do we provide a place of welcome and care for the most vulnerable and weak in our society?

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