Tumbling in the Sand
Texts for June 26, 2011: Jeremiah 28:5–9; Psalm 89:1–4, 15–18; Romans 6:12–23; and Matthew 10:40–42
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” -Matthew 10:40-42
So, yeah, I quoted the whole gospel reading for this Sunday. I’m finding myself fascinated by the turning of the words in these few sentences. Jesus isn’t really talking about the disciples gaining some reward by being welcoming, rather it is by being welcoming to Jesus’ disciples that others gain a reward. How is it then, as Jesus’ disciples, that we can be a blessing to others? That God can use us to bless? How do we let others’ generosity to us become a blessing to them?
I wonder if the key to that question is in the last part of Jesus’ words, where he says “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones…” Up until that statement the disciples, the prophets, the righteous are on the receiving end of the generosity. In this last line, the disciple, the prophet, the righteous become the child or the little one or the least of these. Could it be that the best way to bless others is through child-like acceptance, trust, and faith? Could it be that rather than being some sort of expert, like a disciple or prophet or righteous person, the real blessing comes when we can let ourselves be … well, children?
Now, I don’t need to say (but I will) that not everything that children do is that great. Nor are children always saints—but then neither are adults. In fact, we all kind of stumble along, sometimes trusting, sometimes doubting, sometimes accepting, sometimes picky, sometimes heart-breakingly generous, sometimes selfish beyond words. Age doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to our over-all saint-ness or lack there of. But it does seem like the older we get, the more jaded we become, the more cynical and doubtful until it becomes down-right hard to trust and nearly impossible to love and even harder still to let one’s self be dependent upon another’s kindness. I wonder if it is because when we get older, we think that we should know everything or be good at everything or be able to do anything … I wonder if it is because when we get older, we think that counting on someone else or needing someone else is a sign of failure. I wonder if it is because as we get older, we forget how to give ourselves grace to actually stumble along. So then we stop risking stumbling at all and we just kind of quit.
Maybe that’s what it means to be one of the little ones—to be willing to be honest and free in our stumbling, honest and free in our need for others, honest and free in our attempts to love and trust—and we can be honest and free not because of what we do, but because of this amazing promise of God: that we will be welcomed and through the generosity of God, all will be blessed in that welcome.