Serving with the strength of infants

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At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. Luke 10:21 NRSV

The first time I held my daughter, I was afraid I would break her. She seemed so fragile and helpless in this harsh world. But, she did not know that. She simply trusted, as a baby does, in my protection and provision. Such is the relationship to which God calls us.

In this passage, the 72 disciples have just returned to Jesus and reported their success: “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Jesus tells them “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Then, Jesus turns and rejoices in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t rejoice just because they were successful in their task. He rejoices because they’ve gotten the whole point of The Way. They went out not as conquerors, but as little children: vulnerable, open, loving. More importantly, they embraced Christ’s teaching to rely not on the strength of this world, but on the strength and will of God. They relied not only on their own intelligence, but on the guidance of God through the Holy Spirit.

This is one of those passages that flies in the face of worldly wisdom. And really, isn’t that the whole Gospel? The world teaches us might is right. We need to be stronger, wealthier, better-protected and better-able to force our will on our neighbor. Jesus turns that narrative upside down. God, through grace, connects us to the divine, and to each other, when we set aside our fear, our greed and hatred. We become one with God when we become as little children, and open our hearts entirely to be led, protected and provided for by God, whose love for us – for you – knows no bounds.

Eternal God, give us the strength to become weak for you. Help us to set aside our fears, our greed, our need to be bigger and better than our neighbor, and let us rest, as little children, in your loving arms. And from that place, let us go forth as your children, to love and serve in your name. Amen.

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