In our culture today there is an overwhelming desire for things to be good, and not even just good, but great, perfect, spectacular! When you go to the store to buy something, the categories are often good-better-best right? Good is the bottom; well, I suppose that I don’t want to go into the store to buy a drill and have to choose between “bad, mediocre, and good.”
Why do so many people online, on tv, in positions of power, and even in our own families, seem to think that if something is to be worthwhile, it cannot just be “good” any more. “Good” is no longer “good enough.” Have you ever felt that hype and overblown hyperbole have completely taken over every aspect of your ENTIRE LIFE?! Good thing church newsletters never do that!
Before I get too caught up in my own hyperbole, we should remember that we are not the first people to want to be the greatest at something. When the disciples were arguing with each other about who will be the greatest, the Gospel of Luke says, “Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put the child by his side.” Jesus, knowing their “inner thoughts,” wanted to show not just how to be a good disciple, but how they can be the greatest. We all have been caught in similar situations where we want to prove our greatness in front of our family, coworkers, and friends.
Jesus clarifies to the disciples, “’Whoever welcomes this child in my name, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me.” In Jesus’ day, to be close to the gods was a sign of political and social power and it was monopolized by the wealthy elite (the emperor himself was considered a god). In a world where the most divine meant the most powerful, Jesus turns it all upside-down. By pointing to a small child as the gateway to welcoming God’s presence into one’s life, Jesus redefines divine greatness.
For you and me, it is counterintuitive to think about achieving greatness by serving a simple child. It is logically impossible to think that we could become truly great by neglecting the halls of power to engage in the life of a child. Some teachers, and professionals love to work with kids, while most of us spend our time with adults. This image of greatness is a challenge to us. How can we each welcome a child in Jesus’ name? How can Southminster find our way to greatness in welcoming children?
I am working with a team to help make one Sunday a month a Family-Friendly service. I hope it will be a time where we sing kid’s songs, talk in kid-friendly language, and welcome children in Jesus’ name to participate in worship. In so doing, I hope we shall humbly see the halls of God’s greatness!