Today at church I was given a gift. It was not expensive, yet it was priceless. This gift was not available in stores and could not be ordered online. The gift I was given required the giver to trust me with one of her treasures. I was afforded a few moments holding beautiful Beatrice, the newest member of St Aidan’s church. It was a gift for which i was and am most grateful.
Holding a new little life is a reminder of God’s boundless love. Holding an infant child is a powerful reminder that God’s love is poured out in the miracle that is a precious baby. Holding Beatrice today I was also reminded of how vulnerable and fragile she is. She counts on her loving parents Peter and Jen and her big sisters Kate and Amelia to keep her fed, warm and safe. The love of her family and their tenderness and care are what sustain her. Passed to me today, Beatrice snuggled into my arms, and was quite comfortable. Somehow I’d like to think that even though I have no experience with children of my own, Beatrice knew that she was in safe arms. I think somehow, in some I innate way, she knew that her loving mother would only put her in safe care.
In Luke 18:15-17 we read
People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”
The children are the kingdom’s pride and joy! Accepting the kingdom like a child is the only way in. That means accepting the kingdom means being vulnerable. It means accepting the love from God our Mother/Father in total trust. It means trusting that God would not willfully place us in danger. Accepting the kingdom means being totally open to care and love. Looking into Beatrice’s eyes and seeing the trust she would place in me as I held her, and hearing Jesus declare that accepting the kingdom is to be like Beatrice, I was convicted of my own self sufficiency and inability and pride and my inability, at times, to be vulnerable, to be fed, to be loved, and to be cared for. When we become adults we assume that we are to be doers, and givers. How hard it is in our self sufficient culture to accept that we might be reliant on anything or anyone else but ourselves and our own skills, our own will, and our own resources. Yet Jesus makes clear, ‘getting in’ to the kingdom is really to assume a life more akin to Beatrice’s at the moment. I might rephrase the paraphrase above by saying that if we want to make the kingdom come, we need to enter into our own vulnerability. We can make a world more alive with God’s love and mercy by entering into the way of Jesus – which is a way of vulnerability and a way of nonviolence.
Today was Palm Sunday – we have begun our journey into Holy Week. Indeed – it is a journey toward vulnerability. In the Passion reading today we hear Jesus model vulnerability. He does so at the Last Supper, He does so in his intimate and honest conversations with peter and Judas, and the disciples. he does so, in the garden, in front of Pilate, on the via dolorosa. He shows in vulnerability on the cross.
I pray that as we draw closer to Easter we might draw closer to being the trusting, vulnerable, nonviolent child of God that we have been created to be.
Thank you Beatrice for teaching me today!