Rev. Rosemary Webb
9th July 2017
Squabbling Children

Am I the only parent here who can remember, all too well, having to listen to children squabbling in the garden with their friends and instead of playing happily they were standing glaring at each other, saying, what sounded like yer, yer, yer, we’re bored, with one adding no one wants to play the game I want. So hopefully I would say, well why don’t you play their game, and of course the reply always was ‘don’t want to’.

I don’t know if it’s just old age but to me the whole world seems to sound like that, to me there seems to be so little clear discussion just squabbling, sarcasm, seeing who can put the most insulting statement on twitter or the like. I know that is an exaggeration, but the media seem to be spending vast amounts of time reporting on it.

The first part of the chapter was given over to Jesus paying tribute to John the Baptist, now imprisoned. Jesus understood how John must be feeling and wanted him to know how he was truly grateful for the way he had prepared the way for him. The crowd weren’t interested John was yesterday’s man, they had a new hero now.

But Jesus knew that the problem was greater than that, that in fact many in the crowd didn’t want to have to listen to him either, because Jesus also didn’t say what the crowd wanted to hear. John was too austere for them, but then look at this Jesus he would eat and drink with sinners, as we are all sinners I suppose they meant people like me and you. So what was Jesus to do, what could he do to please all the crowd, what does he still have to do?

Who do people listen to to-day? Is it God, or is it the latest personality on TV, is it some photogenic, loud voiced person, who catches the imagination or the quietly spoken introvert? Does it matter if we know anything about the individual or not, does it matter if it is someone who listens to God, or someone who Jesus refers to when he says God has hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and revealed them to little children. I suspect Jesus may have been referring to those who think they are wise and intelligent, those people who bore us with their views, who are convinced they are never wrong, and never give anyone who disagrees with them the chance to air their views. And of course sadly the Pharisees were amongst the greatest offenders. But the people trusted them because they were educated and spoke with authority.

Jesus was in despair then, how much more must he be in despair with the world today, 2000 years later but no wiser. This world, us, we are these people he gave his life for on the Cross.

So where are we in all this, today, are we the squabbling children in the market- place, who don’t want to listen to each other, or are we like little children who listen and learn. I always love watching small children talk about God, they love what they are saying, they listen to each other. I have heard it said that children have a deep spirituality because they have not been damaged by life. As we grow older so many think we know it all, that we have nothing to learn.

And as we learned at the last election mentioning God can make a person very vulnerable to criticism (Goodness knows what would happen if in a debate instead of shouting at each other someone suggested they prayed to God). Perhaps we need to teach the press that believing in God does not make us perfect, we need to teach we are all sinners, but as Christians we try to follow the will of God, not just for ourselves but for all his children.

In this wonderful world we live in there is so much beauty which goes unnoticed, not just the beauty of nature, but the beauty of actions and words, spoken in everyday conversations, words which show us the love which does exist in our world, the love which God has for us and calls us to show to each other. There is much so wrong in our world but there is also so much that is good if we only look for it.

The Gospel ended with Jesus calling all who are weary to turn to him, saying that he does understand that life can be hard. How for many in this country just too many things seem to have gone wrong this year, too many people have lost their lives through hatred, and we believe, in one case negligence, I think people are really worried about what next disaster may befall us.

But to go back to my question, what are we doing? Are we just thinking it is too big a problem for me, or it’s nothing to do with me? Or do we remember to hand over our fears and perhaps our anger to God, to pray for peace, to pray for all world leaders, including our own, for without God’s help they will flounder.

If we hear people expressing fear do we say, God will hear your fears, pray to him and ask for strength, do we remember to encourage others to pray. Praying isn’t just for regular church goers, it is for everyone, and we need to teach that; and just one more thing dare I suggest that we do pray for our government regularly, this country has problems, to me we seem to be in a mess, and we need God’s help to overcome all our divisions.

Let us move from being a nation of people who think they know better than God to a nation like little children who are willing to pray, to listen and then to work for unity and reconciliation. For with God’s love and guidance nothing is impossible.

Let us pray ‘Heavenly Father, from you we have received the gift of reasoning and the power of questioning, enable us to use them to the full; but also Lord make us ever more ready to look to you, more open to your voice and more able to understand your will in our lives.’ Amen

Matthew 11: 16-19, 25 end