Monday, June 20, 2005

Children's Message: Pentecost 5 - Year A

Jason was standing at his locker at recess when a book dropped out of his knapsack.

“What’s this?” asked Sam picking up the book, as he happened to be walking by Jason’s locker.

“That’s my bible,” Jason snapped, snatching the bible from Sam’s hands.

“Do you go to church?” asked Sam with a small laugh in his voice.

“Um. Sorta,” said Jason closing his locker, turning away and not looking at Sam, a little embarrassed by his question.

Later, in class, Sam sat right behind Jason.

“Hey, God-boy,” Sam whispered for all to hear, “where’s your bible?”

Jason felt his ears turn red. He didn’t know what to say. He knew others would make fun of him if they knew he went to church.

That Sunday, Jason was in church with his parents and he heard Jesus say in the gospel reading, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge them before the Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”

“Is that true?” Jason asked himself. All of a sudden he was very scared. He remembered back to Sam and the bible incident. Should he have told Sam proudly, “Yes! I’m a Christian! I go to church,”? Is that what Jesus wanted him to do? Then he looked around the church and everyone seemed so sure of what they believed. He wasn’t sure that he could believe the same way.

Jason felt ashamed that he didn’t tell Sam he went to church. Although he didn’t exactly lie, he wasn’t exactly forthcoming. Sam wasn’t sure he deserved to be in church with all those people who had no trouble believing who Jesus is. Jesus DID say that that we need to tell folks that we are his followers or he won’t tell the Father about us.

That night as Jason and his parents were getting ready for bed and to say their prayers, Jason became nervous. He wasn’t sure he should tell his parents because they might get mad at him for not telling Sam about Jesus and about how he went to church. And he wasn’t sure that he should pray. But here were his parents in his room, and this was what he was expected to do. So Jason stayed quiet.

“Mom, I don’t think I should pray today,” Jason finally said. He figured the easiest thing was to be upfront with them.

“Why’s that, dear,” his mom replied.

Jason told his parents all about what happened with Sam, about what he heard at church about Jesus demanding that we acknowledge him before others, and how everyone but him were so easily able to believe and tell others about Jesus . Jason was sure that didn’t deserve to pray or go to church.

After he was finished, his mom and dad looked at each other and smiled.

“Thank you, Jason, for being so honest with us,” said his dad, “I think the fact that you’re thinking about how Jesus wants us to live shows how much you do want to follow Jesus.”

“It does?” asked Jason.

“Yes,” continued his mom, “You want to be honest with you faith. You don’t just want to play some game. I think Jesus is more interested in what is in peoples’ hearts than what people say. For Jesus, saying and doing and thinking and believing are the same thing.”

“But the people at church, they all seem like they never have any trouble believing,” said Jason.

“What makes you say that?” asked his dad

“I dunno, it’s just what it looks like to me.”

“Well, I can tell you, there are some people at church who are very certain, and that’s good. But others are hanging on by a thread, and they come to church hoping that the thread will become stronger.”

“Does the thread become stronger?” asked Jason.

“Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t,” replied his dad, “But many of them are the most faithful followers of Jesus. But you must remember, being a follower of Jesus isn’t saying or believing or even doing the right things. Being a follower of Jesus is about being part of God’s family. Some days that’s easy. Some days that’s hard. But God’s love for us never wavers.”

That gave Jason something to think about. But it was getting late, so they said a prayer like this as we do now,

Dear God, thank you that we are part of your family. Amen.


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