How many here today have given God a hug? Nobody? Well, how many of you have hugged a grandchild or a great grandchild? Then friends, you have had your arms around God.
Jesus told his disciples that, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me." So I understand that to mean that every time I welcome a child whoever it is into my arms then I am welcoming God into my arms. Wow, hugging God. I’ve never picked up on that before have you?
It gives everything a whole new perspective. If I welcome kids into my arms then maybe I could welcome strangers. And if I could welcome strangers then I just might be welcoming God into my house, into my life, into my heart.
But sometimes these little ones are all covered with yucky stuff and I’m afraid that they will get my clothes all sticky or it might get in my beard. Isn’t that the way we feel about someone we don’t know too well who wants to get close to us or talk with us and we just don’t feel like talking to them. Maybe they don’t smell very good. Maybe they didn’t brush their teeth today. Maybe they just have a way of making everything yucky. And we’re afraid they might get some of that on us. Right?
But Jesus tells us that we should welcome them like little children. And James, what does he tell us. He say, “18Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”
So Jesus tells us that we should live lives of service and James is telling us that we should work really hard at being gentle and reasonable and be full of mercy and blessings. And he says he knows it’s really hard work but it is worthwhile.
So good friends, welcome those around you who are kind of prickly and hard to love just like you would welcome your children and grandchildren, with open arms and full of happiness to see them. Get along and be gentle and kind to everyone treating each other with dignity and honor. It’s not easy. God knows that but it is good for us and it will bring us closer to God. And friends, that’s a good thing. Who doesn’t want to be close to our creator?
So when you have the wonderful privilege of holding a child in your arms or on your lap think about the fact that you are holding God close to your breast.
Friends, God loves you and so do I. Thanks be to God. Amen.