Mark 9 v 36 - 37

Jesus here is continuing to answer the disciples and their issue over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Again, we must remember the context and accept that, in the time of Jesus, children were seen as lesser people, cheerfully disregarded and considered the lowest form of humanity generally. Remember that in ancient times, children were still being offered as child sacrifices to idols and there would also have been naturally a high infant mortality rate.

Jesus takes a child from the crowd and sets him in front of them. If you wanted to advance your career, be thought of as intelligent or honourable, talking to a child does not help one bit. Children need things, there are certain ways they need to be supported. Jesus is therefore saying that the person who supports and spends time with those with no influence, no power and requiring help is welcoming Him: remember the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 v 31-46, those called 'beloved of the Lord' are those who have given a drink to the thirsty, food to the starving, dressed those who would otherwise be naked-all this we do for our children. What about the millions of children who have no one to provide for them? One way is giving regularly through Compassion UK- details here: www.compassionuk.org.

One type of person I struggle with is the sort that come up to you in a crowded gathering and as they speak to you their eyes are elsewhere, working out the influential people in the room and when they can approach them. That is most definitely not the way of Jesus. Recall the way He spoke with the woman in Luke 8 v 43-48 who had the issue of blood: He talked warmly to her and called her ''My daughter''.

This Christmas time we may be planning to spend time with our extended family and it may be that there is someone in that group who is left on their own and no one spends time talking to them. Be prepared to talk and listen to those often neglected this Christmas!

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