Read Matthew 18:1-14.
As a kid growing up, my favorite day of the year? December 25. My least favorite day? December 26. Really any of those days in the immediate aftermath of Christmas were bummers. Christmas was something you looked forward to all year long. The fact that it was over? Devastating. Once I graduated childhood and moved on into adolescence, young adulthood, and beyond, things — well — they changed. Everything got more complicated. Yes, Christmas was still something to be excited about, but there was a lot more that went with it. Buying presents. Visiting family. And, while I was in school, the inevitable final exams that cast a considerable pall over the holiday season. Sure, when Christmas came and went, it was a little disheartening. But, if I’m honest, it also brought some relief.
Obviously, given the choice, I’d go back to being a kid again, and I wonder if that’s what Jesus is calling us to do here. Not literally, of course, but maybe in spirit. Jesus had a knack for caring for the most vulnerable in his day, so looking out for children was high on his list. “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Strong words from the Savior.
Clearly, the call here is for Jesus’ followers to be steadfastly and acutely aware of the world’s poor, weak, and vulnerable. Yet I wonder if Jesus’ words to become like children might not carry us through any dark and dreary days lying ahead. There’s something to be said for childlike enthusiasm surrounding Christmas, just as there’s something to be said for the post-Christmas blues. When you spend 364 days a year waiting for December 25 — with all of its mystery and magic — a letdown is natural come December 26. Perhaps even inevitable. But, what if that need not be the case the rest of the year? What if the majesty and glory of Christmas wasn’t a season, but more a life of faith? What if childlike faith and awe and wonder are the gifts that keep on giving the whole year round?
Pray: Incarnate Word, as we face the dawn of a new year, fill us with childlike faith, awe, and wonder that will carry us and inspire others. Help us always to care for and minister to the weak, the vulnerable, and the marginalized, for we are all Your people. Praise be to you, living Christ, born unto us, a child in Bethlehem! Amen.
James Goodlet, Bama UKirk