In Matthew 18:1-6, Jesus calls a little child to him and tells his listeners if they become like a little child they will be great in God’s kingdom. He then says in verse six, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
As we read such verses we should try not to allow our modern culture to be the interpreter. From any number of historic documents we can find how children were seen in ancient times. Male children were preferred because they could fight and protect the tribe. That, as well as a view of male superiority, defined the place of girl babies. There are a number of places in both Greek and Roman writings where wives were told by their husbands to kill a baby if it was a girl. Why? Children were another mouth to feed. As soon as they could hold their own they were put to work. In Sparta, all new babies were checked by soldiers for strength, the weak were either exposed to die, or were made slaves. At age 7 they were taken and trained to be warriors. (Historywiz.com among other sites.) According to several web sites, the Romans were notorious for killing their unwanted children. Even among the Jews, boys were preferred and the almost inevitable large family was a hardship. Of course, many died at birth, others by illness, and accident. The males could be killed in battle.
So what picture might we get from what Jesus said, and what it was like in that time? Children did not occupy a cute and cuddly position in that society. They had to “earn their keep” as soon as possible. That can be seen even up to modern history. They could easily be victims of abuse of all kinds. They were not considered to be important. So when Jesus says how to be the greatest in the kingdom of God, he takes the least on earth as his example.
As to the cause to stumble or sin, anything done by anyone (in my opinion) that causes the child to lose their chance to be a child, (to miss the mark) so that they will not have the chance at being a productive adult, is worthy of the milestone. I’m not talking about hardship. Any family can experience that. I’m talking about abuse, physically and mentally. I’m talking about the child whose parents do not want them and lets them know it every day in one terrible way or another. You know what I mean, and the list could go on and on and on. But that’s not what I have in mind.
In a Sunday paper, in an article about the apple production in Virginia, there was a picture of a little boy and girl about six or seven, walking up a lane in an apple orchard. They were friends. I couldn’t help but smile. I do that a lot when I see kids. I even do it when I see
cats and dogs. I even do it when I see those preteens who are about to stretch their wings and fly. But little kids are special, and for now that’s what I want to say.
We have two sets of grandchildren. Two granddaughters in their thirties. Then we have a boy and a girl. The boy is thirteen and the girl is ten. And now a great-great grandson, 7 months. When I think of them I smile, even when I think of the two older ones. I think of the innocence of being a child and how I wanted them to have it for as long as possible. I think of the wonder of walking through an apple orchard and that being the whole world. I think of the child playing with a dog or a cat and having no other thing with which to be concerned. And yet I also know a child who remains a child will not thrive. And while I really hate what humans are capable of, I am also hopeful that just as it was for me, they will not have to be old before their time. That there will be more stories to read about less and less of the various kinds of abuse and gun violence that is part of today’s society.
Bill Cosby (as sad as his story is) said grandparents are just old people who are trying to get into Heaven. He may be right, but when I see the wonder of a child’s world I can’t help but smile. And I want them to be able to drink, one sip at a time, fully of life. And woe to those who would water-board them instead. They deserve the millstone.
* Adapted from an article dated 10/2012
THOSE TO SERVE IN DECEMBER
Announcements: Judy McWhorter
Serve Communion: Susan Jordan
Usher: Jeff Bland
Communion Care: Blessing’s
1-Del Bolin Debbie McRoy
8-Scott Blessing Connie Crites
15-Del Bolin Joanne Elder
22-Karen Branch Holly Wagner
29-Scott Blessing Judy McWhorter
1-Scott Blessing Susan Phlegar
8-Wayne Flora Susan Jordan
15-Wayne Flora Holly Wagner
22-Mike Branch Alisa Flora
29-Keith Wagner Debbie McRoy
RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
Holly Wagner and Connie Crites
2-Jack Thompson 7-Megan Downing
13-Alisa Flora 20-Dillon Hogan
20-Carson McRoy 25-Rhonda McRoy
27-Martha Foy 28-Jeff Bland
3- Jeff & Cathie Martin
23- Gary & Jan Overstreet
CONCERNS: Foy Family, Martha Albert is recovering from a fall and will be shut in for maybe six more weeks. She is at Skylark house. Alan Beach, Joni Beach’s niece, Jamie Cole. Pray for Darnell Barnes. Jo Wagner’s sister, Judy Powell throat Cancer. Continue to pray for Donte McCadden ongoing struggle with CF. Former members, Ray and Debbie Reiss, son-in-law, David, brain Cancer treatment.Deanna McRoy has a kind of cancer that can return at any time. Debbie McRoy’s cousin, Linda Alsup health issues along with husband, Prentice recurring cancer. Also: Joni and Alan Beach’s fathers, Gary Overstreet, Bill Albert, Jim Hunter, Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
Bible Study: 9:30 AM
Sunday Worship: 10:30 AM
Wednesday Evening: 7:00
ROANOKE CHURCH OF CHRIST
The Sunday morning class is now in the book of Philippians. Come and join in class starts at 9:30 pm. There will be a seat waiting for you.
NEW DOOR KEYS
Rob Kinney has been working hard changing the locks and painting the exterior doors. All exterior door locks will be changed. As soon as he is finished keys will be provided for those who have them. We are keeping a list of who received the new keys and we will need for you to turn in your old keys.
To Keith for all that he does for our congregation. We appreciate all of his sermons and insights. During this Holiday Season it’s good to count your blessings and Keith is a blessing to this church. Thank you from your loving church family.
Del Bolin Wayne Flora
Mike Branch Susan Jordan
Please come join us on Wednesday evening for our weekly supper and bible study starting at 6 pm. We’re studying the second Corinthian letter.
Peanut butter is the number one needed item for Feeding America. It can be used all year. Drop a jar off on the foyer table. A good way to show your Thankfulness during this Thanksgiving Season. Thank you for helping our community!
Laura Branch Hogan wants to give each of her 43 5th Grade students at Highland Park Elementary a book for Christmas. We can help by donating towards the books ( which Susan Jordan has helped choose), and also by helping to wrap books. Laura will be at Super Sunday on December 15th with books and wrapping supplies. It’s a Wrap!!