Monday, March 23, 2009

Faith Lessons with Scout

One of my March commitments is doing the "Children's Minute" during our church services each Sunday morning. (You's that few minutes when the children run down the aisles, while an adult tries to wrangle them all while presenting some sort of thought-provoking message that actually make sense to the kids and also somehow reaches the adults out in the audience). Apparently, there a lot of adults who say "No" whenever they're asked to do the children's minute (probably because of what I just wrote within the previous set of parentheses), but I personally enjoy doing it.

I especially enjoy it when my ramblings seem to somehow reach out to the kids, and also when it goes along with what the rest of the service is communicating. Very rarely does this happen--maybe once out of the month--but I think it did yesterday.

And it worked partly because of Sydney's help.

To prepare for my minute, I always read the Lectionary to find out what the Bible readings will be in the service (I like my little message to jive with the preacher's sermon, if at all possible) and one of the focus verses of the day immediately jumped out at me.

John 3:16

Probably the most famous verse of the Bible. The verse that everyone, even non-churchgoers, seem to know. The verse that Tim Tebow wears on his football under-eye patch thingie. The verse that even my four-year-old can quote verbatim.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

But how in the heck do I make such a familiar verse seem new to the kids and anyone else who might still be awake enough to listen to what I was saying?

I got to thinking about how BIG that love sounded. Which got me to thinking about how we measure the "bigness" of stuff in our world. Which gave me an idea for some object lessons. Which ended up sounding something like this...

"Have you ever thought about how we can possibly measure God's love? Is there any way that we can really understand how much God loves much that verse tell us He loves us?

Why don't we see if we can measure God's love by using some things that I use everyday to measure other things in my life?

(I reached down into my handy-dandy children's minute bag and pulled something out.)

First, I've got a clock. What does it measure?

(The good news this morning? The kids were actually paying attention and were answering my questions. So, to the clock question I got answers like: "What time it is" and "How long it takes to do something.")

That's right. We use the clock to measure time. But, can we measure God's love with a clock?

(The kids: "No." "Of course not." "That's silly.")

Of course, we can't. In fact, the Bible tells us that God's love goes from everlasting to everlasting, and that's a very long time. It's a lot longer than a clock can measure.

Now, look at what I have here. This is a tape measure. What do we use it to measure?

(The kids: "How tall something is." "Wood to build things.")

That's right. The tape measure is used to measure height and length and distances. Just yesterday, Sydney was using it to measure herself and was so excited that she was 3 foot 3 inches. (Notice that I find reasons to insert my cute kid stories.)

But can we measure God's love with a tape measure?

(The kids: "Uh uh." "Nope.")

Nope, there's no way you can measure God's love with a tape measure or a ruler. Did you know that there's a Bible verse that says God's love reaches higher than the heavens? I don't think there's any way a tape measure can stretch that far.

Finally, I have a measuring cup. What do we use it to measure?

(The kids: "Water." "Stuff to bake cakes with." "Flour and things for cooking.")

You're exactly right. This cup is really good for measuring things for cooking. But, do you think we can measure God's love with it?

(Be ready, now, for the kids' responses.
Well, be ready for one kid's response...Sydney's response.
She said...
"You can't put God's love in a cup.")

That's exactly right. Sydney said, 'You can't put God's love in a cup,' and she's exactly right. In fact, the Bible says that God loves us so much that our cup overflows. A cup can't hold God's love. In fact, nothing can truly hold or measure God's love.

Now that we've determined that we can't measure God's love with a clock, or a tape measure, or a measuring cup, I think we see that God's love is really hard to even imagine. There's no way we can really understand His love for us.

But I want to challenge you to look around this room. There is something in here that actually does measure God's love for us. Look hard and see if you can find it.

(The kids looked up and around, and then one pointed to the right place.)

Yep, why don't all of you look up at the front of the church. Right up there over the choir. What's that up there?

(The kids: "The cross!")

It's the cross. It perfectly sums up what John 3:16 tell us. And that's really the only thing that can measure, for us, God's crazy, amazing love."

And there ended my children's minute. The kids rambunctiously ran back down the pews and headed out to Children's Church. But for a minute, I think they got it...or at least I hope they did.

When the rest of the service continued, and then as our minister preached his sermon, I had to sorta smile at how God works things out.

The sermon's title for the day was "Look Up." The focus of it was how, when life gets us down and we get stuck in dry, weary places, we've got to look up. Only by looking up at the cross can we see how much God loves us and how much He wants to be there for us.

After the sermon, our preacher came to Sydney and said, "I sure liked what you had to say in church today. That God's love can't be put in a cup."

She just smiled and nodded at him and he asked her, "Did you just think of that right then?"

And she answered, "Yep, I just thought of it right then when Mommy was telling us about God's love. He loves us a lot."

Then, laughing, I told him that Sydney is my source of theological training in my home. She's the one who most connects me with the real meaning in life. Who teaches me a whole lot about God and the incredible way He works. Who reminds me of what it's really all about.

Her message is important for all of us to hear, don't you think?

And I hope you remember it today...that you are special, and that you are precious, and that you are loved in a way that's really totally immeasurable.


Monogram Queen said...

VERY important... out of the mouths of babes!
Sometimes they do "get it" and other times... well let's just say you can't make them get it - ever! I'm sure you always do a wonderful job though Cheryl!

Linda said...

I love this C. Great story, and a wonderful way to reach children. I love what they can come up with, especially when it is so important to them, as it seems it is with Scout.

Have a beautiful day friend.

Adrienne said...

Awwwwwwwww I love this!!!!

Jeff said...

That is a great story! Great lesson from you and a great assist from Sydney.

Gave me a good smile during lunch. Thanks for that.

Cheryl Wray said...

Queen--The kids are definitely a challenge, but sometimes it's just amazing what comes out of them!!

Linda--Of course, I think Scout is just brilliantly insightful. :-) You have a wonderful day too!

Adrienne-- :-)

Jeff--Glad it brightened up your lunch break!

Gretchen said...

Cheryl, thank you for repeating your children's minute so that I didn't have to walk all the way to the front of the church and sit on my bottom in criss-cross style. That always hurts my knees and hips. But I needed this children's moment. Oh, yes I did. xxxooo

Gin said...

Great thoughts Cheryl. I just love to come here and get inspired.

Thank you.

Dettao said...

What a wonderful lesson