Sermon on Mark 10:13-16
Unity in Diversity: Those with Disabilities and Special Abilities
February 9, 2020
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
So, what can we learn from Jesus in the Gospel of Mark?
By now he is starting to get a reputation as a troublemaker. He is gaining more and more attention because he is an agent for change. Change in practice and in thought processes. And people start realizing that Jesus is messenger of God. People come from all over and now Marks wants to make it clear that although many want to get to Jesus others are indignant and want to keep them from getting to Jesus. But this time it is not the religious leaders who prevent others from coming to God it is the very disciples of Jesus themselves.
Interesting it doesn’t even say that people were bringing the little children that he might heal them or cure them. They just want Jesus to touch them and bless them. People need to know that Jesus is real, tangible, touchable.
You get the message that Mark wants his community to learn something here. Or else why would he include this passage in his gospel to his church. You get the impression that his church is starting to exclude people, quantify people, closing their doors to certain people or at least not making it easy for them to come to Jesus.
So, Mark recalls how Jesus took the lowest member of the totem pole – a child – to say that they are worthy to come to Jesus. How much more those who have disabilities.
I have a non-Amish friend in Lancaster PA who knows a lot of Amish people and I have had the pleasure of being on a number of Amish farms. I learned from one elderly woman named Susanna that the Amish women sew into their quilts a patch that deviates from the pattern. Unnoticeable to most people the sewers know it is there. The Amish do that to remind themselves that they are fallible and only God is perfect. But I like to think that that patch is put there to remind us that we are all broken, disabled, impaired in some way, visible, invisible, accidental, congenital, it doesn’t matter.
Nancy Eiesland in her book The Disabled God says Jesus takes the side of the survivor, because God is a survivor. Jesus takes the side of people with disabilities because God has a disability. In Jesus Christ Good took on all the manifestations of what it means to be human including what it means to live with a disability.
Jesus knows what it means to lose use of his hands and feet nailed to the cross. Jesus knew chronic pain. Jesus knew stigma of being the outcast. Humiliation. Exclusion.
For Jesus and for us justice means including all as part of God’s family. Jesus stood up to the bullies and Jesus proclaimed that the most vulnerable among us are part of the family of God. That is what justice looks like. That the body of Christ includes all of God’s children. And that we who are in the body of Christ make room for others and that we shut down the bullies as quickly as possible.
With righteous indignant energy. Inspired by Jesus himself