But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14
At my church, we invite those who are not communing to come up and receive a blessing. Most often those who receive them are children, and it is a joy to remind each one of their baptismal identity in Christ and to pray that they would continue to grow in the faith. Admittedly, so many of these moments are a blur. Yet a few weeks ago there was one blessing I gave that I will never forget. As I am distributing the Lord’s Supper, a little girl comes up for a blessing. I bend down to her height, I look at her and there she stands, looking back at me, with one of her ten fingers placed about two knuckles deep up into her nostril. I laughed at the sight, and she smiled. Finger still firmly in place, I continued with the blessing, “May the Holy Spirit continue to bless you and keep you as you grow in the promises of your baptism.” She smiled again and walked away as I continued to chuckle while distributing the host.
While it might seem that this is just some funny little story about a child doing a child thing, it sticks in my mind that these are the ones Jesus calls to himself. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to this little girl who has her finger halfway up her nose. It is her who approaches Christ’s table in this manner. It is her that Christ invites to come forward and warns anyone who might try to stop her. So many would look at this child and tell her to take the finger out of her nose, it isn’t appropriate, it’s disgusting, it isn’t reverent. We wouldn’t want to disgust Jesus. Yet, Jesus never speaks of his followers as adults who are well-groomed and put together. No, he speaks of them as children. Children who more often than not approach him with a finger up their nose.
We are all children. You and me, all of us invited by Jesus to come to him and where he has promised to be. We do far worse than come before Christ with a finger up our noses. Instead, we come before him with lips that have spread lies and have gossiped. We come to Jesus with hands that have typed rude comments, that have hit and have stolen. We come to Jesus with eyes that have lusted and have judged others based on appearance. We come to Jesus in discontentment wanting more than we have been blessed with. We come to Jesus with feet that have not gone out but have remained idle, refusing to share the good news. We come to Jesus far dirtier than the child who came to me for a blessing. The least of our worries is the finger up the nose. Yet, Jesus does not hinder us. He does not keep us away at arm’s length. Yet some will not approve. Those who say, “You’re not worthy.” Those who will hinder God’s children from coming.
But not Jesus. No, Jesus continues to invite. He continues to give himself. He continues to call all people to himself. So come to where Christ is. Come before his table and come hear his words of forgiveness to you. When he sees you with your finger up your nose, or whatever else you bring, he will not cast you away… But instead, he will invite you to come in, to sit down, to eat and drink. You will be forgiven for you are his child, and the kingdom of heaven belongs to you. Even if you come with your finger all the way up your nose.