People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But 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…And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16
It did not take long for the word to get out that people who heard Jesus teach not only encountered insightful teaching but often came away altered by the power of His presence. People may come to learn something new or interesting but healings, miracles and the like are sure to draw a crowd. The gospel writers are clear Jesus drew crowds of people. We are not often told who makes up this crowd. I imagine the curious, the skeptical, and the hopeful mingled together to hear this teacher and maybe, just maybe, get touched by the power they had heard stories about.
Even though culture, geography and two thousand years separate us from these events, we can perhaps understand that among these crowds were parents with their children. Parents want blessing, possibility and a hopeful future for their children. It is not surprising that some brought their children to see Jesus and hoped that He would touch them.
The disciples respond like people often do when they believe that blessing and power are rare and precious: they restrict access to it. “Don’t bother Jesus with your toddler,” I can hear them say, “He has very important things to be doing…” Jesus is indignant. He is upset that the disciples don’t think that these young children are important enough to trouble Him and that He must conserve his power and blessings for others. Jesus does not send them away, He embraces them and blesses them.
God’s blessing and power it turns out is precious but not rare. The love and blessing of God is abundant and extravagant and we need not worry it will run out. No one, no matter their age or their story is outside the invitation to come to Jesus.
Among other ministries of University, this story is the reason we have a Day School. From its beginning the University Day School has been a place where children are welcome to grow, explore, learn and be blessed. I am proud of the legacy of the Day School and I am really excited about its future. I am pleased to announce that Amanda Nunneley will be our new Director and Michele Casstevens will serve as our Assistant Director. Amanda has been serving in our communications department here at the church and brings expertise in child development, abundant creativity and caring disposition to this role. I am certain that she will be a blessing to the children in our program, their families and the teachers and staff of the school. Michele returns to a role she excelled in during previous seasons with the school. I am elated that Michele is bringing her joy and energy back to the hallways and classrooms of University.
Hopeful parents still bring their children near Jesus, and I believe that our Day School teachers, staff and administrators will ensure that they are embraced and blessed.