Sunday, September 23, 2018
Sermon Pente 20B 2018
The Rev. John M. Atkins
Mark 9:30-37
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not
want anyone to know it;  31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying
to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and
they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise
again.”  32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were
afraid to ask him.
33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he
asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”  34 But they
were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who
was the greatest.  35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to
them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of
all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it
in his arms, he said to them,  37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in
my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not
me but the one who sent me.”
+ + + + + + +
I’ll never forget the day of Friday, September 21, 2007.
I received a phone call from my Mom.
With tears in her voice, she told me that my Daddy had died.
It was a shock because only 9 days earlier Momma and I had
surprised Daddy with an 80 th Birthday Celebration & Open House.
This past Friday was the 11 th anniversary of his passing.
I took a little time by myself, sat outside,

gazed up at the sky, thanking God
and Daddy for the countless blessings I’ve been granted because a
farmer and businessman named John chose to meet, court and marry
Barbara, and thus became my Daddy.
Several of my Dad’s legacies live on in
my sister and me.
One, simply put, is a deep joy and love
for little children.
Daddy’s childhood was rough.
He desired to share what he himself lacked growing up as a poor,
farm-boy in a household with 7 other siblings.
Daddy delighted in giving love and attention and gifts to children
in our family, children at church,
and children in the community,
especially to those whose parents had little to give them.
The Good News is that Daddy
is in the arms of God,
and some of his powerful legacies
live on in his children.
You and I can’t listen to the news
without being reminded of the current judicial proceedings.
Earlier this past week, I stared in horror
as I watched the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting from 1991,
when Anita Hill had to testify to the committee on national television
concerning her accusations against Clarence Thomas.
As I observed that historic hearing,

I was stunned by the questions and horrific comments made by many
of the powerful, privileged, white men sitting on that committee.
It was disgustingly clear that most of those men were incapable of
empathizing with the vulnerable
within American society.
The truth of that case may never be known to the public.
Yet, the lack of empathy and concern for the vulnerable
despicably displayed during the hearings will go down in infamy.
While not intended as a comment on our current political landscape,
have we learned from the past?
The Good News is that God won’t settle for
what we call justice.
God’s justice will come and prevail,
and we better prepare for it.
Jesus was extremely concerned about
the vulnerable.
In today’s Gospel reading, we have the
imagery of Jesus delighting in a child.
To address the issue of status, Jesus picked up the child,
gently held the child his arms,
and allowed the child to tug
and be playful with him.
Jesus pointedly illustrates for his 12 disciples
the certainty that God is always
concerned about the welfare of people

society casts away and considers insignificant,
just as children were considered insignificant
in 1 st century Palestine.
Jesus tells his disciples Good News,
“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and
whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
The child represents all those
society dehumanizes.
Jesus assures his disciples that God values
all people, especially those whom society treats unjustly
and eagerly tosses away.

On this day, we have been asked to consider giving back to God some of the
many love-gifts entrusted to us.
Let us never forget that,
as followers of Jesus Christ,
we have the responsibility,
power and resource of divine love
to stand with the vulnerable,
giving them deserving voice and action as God’s precious children.
God bless you and me
as we share this Good News
by actively and intentionally
standing with and blessing
people who are most vulnerable.