Sunday, November 6, 2011

Show and Tell

Mark 10:13-16
Psalm 78:1-7

Despite the morning scramble it sometimes produces, "Show and Tell" is a favorite day at our house. For William it comes every other week, and for Karoline every Tuesday, so you'd think we would have gotten the schedule down by now, but anyway. We don't.

But even with the extra time spent in the morning running around the house trying to find just the right thing to bring to school to show their friends and tell good stories about, Show and Tell is a favorite for my kids. Like Mark in that picture, both Karoline and William got the chance to tell their daycare classes about the day Margaret was born, and show her picture even before they got to meet her. We haven't been brave enough to send a real pet to school like Eric, but pictures of Sophie and even our cat that died years before either child had a good memory of him, has slipped into a turn or two. Show and tell, at least for our children, is more than just a time to talk in front of the class and share your "stuff." It is an important place where they make sense of their lives. It know it sounds like I'm inflating this little classroom activity, but I think it’s true. It's where they get to choose what is important to them and stand up in front of their teachers and peers and declare it. They get to tell their stories, share what they know, remember what they have experienced, and in the telling, in a way, experience it all over again.

The disciples were less than excited about the “Show and Tell” that was taking place around Jesus in the gospel of Mark. People were bringing their children to Jesus to receive his touch, probably for the healing or exorcism that Jesus had been demonstrating, but the disciples wanted none of it. It wouldn’t have been abnormal at the time. Thoughts and feelings about children were much less positive and sentimental at the time than they are now. Children weren’t even better seen than heard; children were better fetching water, watching animals, or working in fields than anywhere else. Children were a commodity more than a blessing, so their presence around Jesus, in the minds of the disciples and many others would have been superfluous, unnecessary, a distraction from the real ministry that needed to be done.

But Jesus had a little bit of show and tell to do himself. “Let them come,” he said. Against all common wisdom, against all accepted understandings, he welcomed the children to him. In fact, he was indignant that they come. He was insistent that his welcome be for all people, young and old, male and female, Jew and Gentile, sinner and saint, wise and ignorant, rich and poor, free and imprisoned. He was adamant that the boundaries the rest of society insisted upon had no authority in his faith, in his family, among the people of God. “Let the children come to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”

“Let them come,” our sacrament of baptism says. Let them come whether they know about God’s love or not. Let them come when they can’t yet choose for themselves. Let the children come and be washed in God’s grace, God’s mercy, and God’s love - - the grace and mercy and love God has showered upon them from the first moment of their existence. Let them come to these waters that remind us of so many other waters that have come before. Let them come to the waters of creation, the waters God tamed bringing order out of chaos. Let them come to the waters of the exodus, the water that God parted in order to bring the children of Israel out of slavery to freedom. Let them come to the waters of justice that roll down like a mighty stream washing away inequality with compassion. Let them come to the water where Jesus was baptized, commissioning him for his ministry and us for ours. Let them come to the water, the river the flows through the city of heaven, bringing life and nourishment to all who dwell there. Let them come to this water that welcomes them into our family of faith, that joins them to Christ and his body on earth, the Church. Let them come.

Let them come, let ALL of God’s children come to table of our Lord. Let us come to this table where our host is also the one who nourishes us. Let us hear and respond to Jesus’ invitation to feast with him here and in glory with a resounding, “Yes!” Let us come to the table remembering the manna that came from heaven, feeding and strengthening the Israelites days by day as they wandered in weary times. Let us come to the table that Esther set before her husband the king where she could speak truth and work for compassion before one in power. Let us come to the table where Jesus eats with sinners. Let us come to the heavenly banquet table God is preparing for us even now where we will feast with all the saints someday.

Don’t you see? These sacraments, these special celebrations and remembrances, these are our show and tell. These are the way we remind one another, the way we tell the children and the generations yet to come, the way we demonstrate to the world who we are, what is important to us, what we believe. We believe in God who welcomes all from the youngest and weakest, to the oldest and strongest. We believe in Jesus who knows our faults and sits with us anyway, who by his acceptance forgives our wrongs. We believe in the Spirit who joins us together with one another and with all people who have shown and told their faith through these sacraments before us, and even those who will come after us. These sacraments that are open not to those who know enough or believe enough or who understand enough, but these sacraments that are open to ALL who have even a mustard seed of faith, these are our show and tell when we utter the things we have heard and known, when we display the glorious deeds of the LORD, when we remember what we have experienced of God’s grace and love. In our telling today and every time we share them, may we experience that grace all over again.

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