Today's Lectionary Text
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
I went to church this past Sunday at Overbrook United Methodist Church. I was feeling demoralized by two tragic mass shootings in less than 24 hours, one in El Paso, Texas, and one in Dayton, Ohio. In addition, a young woman named Erin Langhofer was murdered by a stray bullet at First Fridays in Kansas City. She was the daughter of a Church of the Resurrection pastor, Tom Langhofer. I didn’t know Erin personally, but being close in age and part of the United Methodist community, we had several mutual friends. All of these preventable deaths weighed heavy on my heart. So many have been sacrificed on the altar of white supremacy, so many sacred bodies dead because of our idolizing of weapons built to kill human beings with assembly-line efficiency.
My heart was hardened, calcified by anger at the evil in the world and our government’s cowardice to prevent these tragedies. It was VBS Sunday, and the kids sang about Mars and God’s love with glee and energy. I was mad at the kids too. How can they be so joyful when there was so much injustice to be outraged about?
Then the kids served communion. A little sun-tanned blonde boy told me that Christ’s body had been broken for me. His words pierced through my jaded heart, and I felt the grace that comes through celebrating Holy Communion.
Communion is a reminder that we are one body with many members. As Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12, when any part of the body hurts, we all hurt. All of the body of Christ should be feeling the pain of mass shootings, and working to dismantle the white supremacy, toxic masculinity, and easy access to weapons of war that cause these horrific events.
The blessed children serving communion reminded me of a passage in Matthew, where Jesus tells all of us to be like little children. What does this mean? Children’s hearts have not yet been jaded and hardened by the callousness of the world. They are open, eager and hopeful. They come to serve communion, to serve Christ, and to be part of the body. Children and young people believe that we can live in a world without gun violence. It’s adults, especially adults in power, who need convincing. Children have the power to imagine a society that worships God, not guns. Instead of trusting in bullets that take life, may we invest in our children, who bring life.
Micah Corps co-coordinator
Prayer for Reflection
God who gives all life, make us like children. Give us minds and hearts of children. Give us the bold, prophetic imagination of a child, so the entire body of Christ can flourish. May we seek peace and abundant life for all people. When fear and white supremacy lead us to guns and violence, lead us to you, who disarmed Peter in the garden, and who taught us that perfect love casts out fear.
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