My daughter received a really sweet gift from her teacher and a classmate before their Spring Break… the whole class did. It was a little basket and bag of Easter goodies. Just after my daughter showed it to me, she devoured everything…. chocolate first (just like her Mom), then she went for the other sweet things like Skittles, Starburst and all of those other fat-free candy. (Believe me, I know the way the whole sweets justification thing works… saying fat-free, regardless of the sugar content has some redeeming sounding value) .
My precious little sticky-handed seven-year-old had finished all she could handle for the moment and brought me a little sweet gift…She handed it to me with a toothless grin and said, “Here Mom, you can have these,” and off she ran to play with a friend. There in the bottom of the goodie bag was a rainbow of jelly beans… I can’t tell you how disappointed I was…. Jelly Beans are definitely not my favorite and in fact, I’m pretty sure that…with the exception of Jelly Bellies…. they probably have some great influence on our country’s economic situation today…. way too many jelly beans made and with all of the packaging and food color and sugar… they just seem to overproduce those things and they have to lose money on them. They all seem to end up in some clearance shopping cart until they are marked down to 10 cents a bag… then either some impulsive bargain shopper scoops them up or the one of the few jelly bean enthusiasts out there grabs them to create jelly bean artwork. I’m concerned that there may be a jelly bean bailout… Check out Wal-mart the day after Easter, see how many of those Reese’s eggs are left in comparison to the all of the jelly bean bags and you’ll see my concern.
I really do wonder why jelly beans have become such an Easter staple? Maybe it is because they are inexpensive… or maybe it is because, though not impossible, they are harder to find throughout the year.. or maybe there is something about them that I just don’t see or get… I don’t know.
I know Jesus wasn’t talking about jelly beans when he said the least among you (which I think jelly beans totally are)will be the greatest. I kind of always had in mind that being the “least among you” meant being humble and not being arrogant…. I still think it does…however, something struck me this morning as I was reading that passage. Jesus had a child stand beside him and tells those who were arguing around him about their place by His side, “Whoever welcomes this little one, welcomes me, whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me”. Wow! Being the least in order to be the greatest is about welcoming the child or childlike, a.k.a the least…. possibly the least of society… maybe the least according to your own personal prejudices or attitudes.. could be the least in maturity whether emotional, spiritual, social or physical… possibly the least could literally be a child (in that case I am plugging getting involved with your Children’s ministry)… I think Jesus was trying to show us that welcoming is what makes our faith so great… welcoming is more than just a greeting… it is an act of warmth, of hospitality, of gratefulness of the arrival…
Okay, I’ll welcome my jelly beans but only because they were given as a gift from someone I love…
Who has God given to you to welcome? You might be surprised. Maybe we should welcome because they are a gift from the Giver that we love.
46An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.”