Sunday 9th July (Ordinary 14) by Local Preacher Naomi Sharp
I expect we all know someone like this: Whenever there is a new suggestion made, they see why it will not work. Whenever something changes, they are the first to complain. Whenever tea is available, they really want coffee. Maybe, sometimes, this is even us! I think we can see reasons why people may be like this – perhaps a succession of previous disappointments in life has taught them not to get their hopes up for example. But sadly, the saying is true: “Some people are never satisfied.”
This seems to have been the case with people mentioned in today’s gospel reading, people of John and Jesus’ time. They criticised John’s strictness and Jesus’ openness. Whatever “tune” was played; they were not going to dance or mourn. Well, with their fingers in their ears they were going to miss out on some great music! That’s the sad thing – if we are too busy complaining and moaning, we miss opportunities.
In contrast, Jesus goes on to speak of how the Father has revealed to “children” what is hidden from the wise and learned. This seems to fit with other passages where Jesus teaches his followers to be like children, because, ‘unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 18.3), and, ‘the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ (Matthew 19.14) Children do complain of course, but they have not learned the cynicism which dulls and closes the mind. They are usually inquisitive, imaginative, and endlessly fascinated by the world around them; puddles are there to be splashed in and insects to be watched.
If we are not to fall into the trap of missing what Jesus has to say because we are focused on our disappointments and complaints, we will be helped by seeking to be childlike in our openness, ready to receive and delight in whatever Jesus has to show us.
I guess that, for most of us, our adult years are mounting up. What, then, might help us to keep or to rediscover childlikeness of the kind that will enable us to be open to God? I think that being around children, if we can, is one of the best ways, especially as we worship together. There are many reasons for offering all-age worship in our churches, including because of what adults can learn from and with the help of children.
Lord Jesus, forgive us for our tendencies to be suspicious and cynical. May we be more open to the delights of the world around us, and to the new things you may wish to show us. Amen.