These verses from our Gospel, and similar ones, make me wonder what childlike qualities Jesus had in mind. I doubt he had a romanticized vision of childhood (innocence, playfulness and openness). In the first century less than half of the children born made it to adulthood. The most relevant characteristic of children was that they were tremendously vulnerable. Parents, in those days, loved their children, but children were often the first to die of disease or famine.
Children were also vulnerable because of their low status in society. They couldn’t own property or inherit anything until they were adults. Legally speaking, children were not people. So, Jesus said that God's realm belongs to those that the world said nothing can belong.
The new life Jesus offers is an alternative to the rat race. And we ought to be mindful of what Lily Tomlin said, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.” We are invited to be more than rats, in fact God made us for more. We can opt out of the rat race.
This applies to our churches as well. It is long since time for us to stop saying, "they're taking my church away from me," and we recognize that it's God's church, and God has made room for those God invited.
Deliver us, O God from deciding who deserves the grace we want for ourselves and our children, and give us the vision and courage to receive every person as your child – not just those we know or like; not just those who share our culture, language, social class, or family link – as a full, beloved member of your family, deserving of all the good things that are your gifts, not anyone’s property.
Invite someone (anyone) to Church next Sunday (or any Sunday) and we will be blessed with the joy of knowing that we are together in God Church, in God’s presence.