Reflection on the Gospel of Mark 10:2-16, Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost:

October 3, 2021

World Communion Sunday

The Gospel of Mark 10:2-16

Some Pharisees came, and to test Jesus they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 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. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

As Jesus said: , “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Today in many parts of the world children are looked upon as less than important. Almost a hindrance. But in Jesus’ eyes they were important as they were for Him the line of the continuation of the church.

Let us Pray: Holy God thank you that you give us our daily bread and fruit in its season but beyond this bread we look to the bread of heaven; beyond this fruit we look to the fruits of eternal life and so we pray for your and those who minister to us and help to fulfil our spiritual hunger. This we pray in your Name. Amen

If you walk into any congregation in the United States, you will see couples with an impressive marital track record. These unions are rarely without stress and strain, and many have overcome obstacles of illness, loss, and unfaithfulness. But if you were to add up the total years of marriage at most churches, you would be amazed. And inspired. So, what is the key to staying married through days of anger, months of separation, and years of disappointment, illness, and loss? One major key to a long-lasting marriage is communication and listening to each other. A marriage is a relationship; it is an on-going process. We need to recognize the importance of marriage to children, in terms of emotional and economic security, marriage is good for both adults and children. Perhaps the Gospel-writer Mark is trying to make a similar point by connecting Jesus’ teaching about marriage to his blessing of the little children. In the first century, the poor were often orphans and women without husbands, so Jesus’ prohibition against divorce could be seen as a strong stand for economic justice. Although the Pharisees accepted that a man could write a certificate of dismissal and divorce his wife, making her vulnerable to a life of poverty, Jesus said no, “what God has joined together, let no one separate”.

Mark reveals that Jesus had deep concern for the welfare of children.  That’s a stand worth taking, whether we are married or single. Children having no status or power, could not contribute anything to the Jesus’ movement. They were neither worthy opponents or worthy disciples. Their playfulness could quickly turn disruptive. Who can tell when a child might cry or fight the parent’s restraining grip? Better for children be kept in the background where they belong! The disciples spoke sternly, don’t disturb the teacher! The only surprise is that we have so recently seen Jesus take a little child in his arms, saying, “Whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, doesn’t receive me, but him who sent me. Didn’t the disciples have ears to hear? Eyes to see?

What is there about a child that fits him or her for the kingdom of God? The answer is to be found in the way that children receive the kingdom, as a gift. They are dependent on the Father. They come with empty hands and trusting hearts. They are totally dependent on God’s grace, and that is the only way to receive God’s kingdom. Children can be like the wrapping around the gift of seeing the kingdom clearly and what it means for our lives, and each other. The children are at the center of this gift. The children are like a magic. They are the ones who show us whether we see clearly, or whether we are still blind.

Because children love to come to Jesus, we should never block the way, or fail to provide them a way. It is especially important to bring children to Jesus when we remember they have a whole life in front of them to serve God. These younger boys and girls can make themselves ready to accept Christ giving them a long, happy life before them in which they may serve God with all their hearts. Who knows what glory God may have for them?  Our world may be enlightened by them. So again, why were the children able to receive such a blessing from Jesus? Because children can receive the blessing of Jesus without trying to make themselves worthy of it or pretending, they do not need it. We need to receive God’s blessing the same way. Children are also examples of how we must enter the kingdom with a childlike faith, not with a childish faith. We must come to God with a faith that trusts God just like a little child trusts their parents.

World Communion Sunday October 3, 2021 in the World

A Prayer for World Communion Sunday

JESUS PRAYED that we might be one. One in spirit, One in mission In union and communion with each other and with you. Today, God, we confess fumbling, and failures in accomplishing unity, as we set aside yet another day to remind ourselves of the task. On this World Communion Sunday, give us eyes to recognize your reflection in the eyes of Christians everywhere. Give us a mind to accept and celebrate our differences. Give us a heart big enough to love your children everywhere. We thank you for setting a table with space enough for us all! Amen. O Redeemer God, as we gather in worship on this World Communion Sunday, we ask that you send your Holy Spirit to fall afresh on us. We pray for your Spirit to awaken new hope in us. Grant us the vision to see the coming of your kingdom. Help us to celebrate the glimpses of grace that you have given to each of us. Knit our hearts together in worship and communion so that we know we do not struggle alone in working for your peace and justice. We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

World Communion Sunday takes place on October 03, 2021. World Communion Sunday is a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, taking place on the first Sunday of every October, that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation. The tradition originated in the Shadyside Presbyterian Church in 1933, was adopted throughout the US Presbyterian Church in 1936, and subsequently spread to other denominations. In 1940, the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches), led by Jesse Moren Bader, endorsed World Communion Sunday and began to promote it to Christian churches worldwide. (With material from: Wikipedia)

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