If you wish, you can hear the sermon as it was preached from the UCJ pulpit. Simply click the play button below:
Delivered at the United Church of Jaffrey
May 21th, 2017
OK kids, I want you to imagine something…
Can we imagine something together?
OK… Close your eyes…
Is everyone’s eyes closed?
Grown up too…
OK, here we go.
Imagine you’re inside a big building.
Your mom is there too.
She’s sitting next to you on a long bench.
There are some other kids also, spread out here and there among the benches, but not as many as there are in school.
Actually, most of the people sitting in the benches are grown-ups.
Some of them look like they’ve been around the block a few times…
Someone is standing up front. He is wearing a long black robe.
And, boy, does he like to talk!
Seems like he never stops talking!
When’s he going to stop talking?
Wait a second!
Did he just stop talking?
Did you open your eyes again?
Are you cheating?
Go ahead and open your eyes again.
Here you are!
In exactly the same place you were just imagining.
You actually didn’t have to imagine you were here – because you were here all the time.
It’s like that old saying…
Wherever you are… there you are!
Let me ask you a question.
I’m talking to you kids right now.
Have you ever been in church, and some grown-up (usually your mom) frowns at you and says…
Has that ever happened to you?
Or has it?
I bet it has!
In fact, I bet every kid who has ever come to church, in the last two thousand and seventeen years – every single one of them, has been told to sit still and be quiet.
Why is that?
Have you ever wondered?
Why do grownups in church insist that you sit still and keep quiet?
And how does it make you feel, when someone looks at you and goes “shhh!”
Does it make you want to be quiet?
Or does it make you want to make noise?
Does it make you want to pay attention to the guy in the black robe?
Or does it make you think that the guy in the black robe is silly?
I wouldn’t blame you if you thought any of those things.
Now let me tell you something that you may not have thought of…
Kids… you may not have thought of this…
And grown-ups… you may have forgotten it…
You know those old folks who frown at you and tell you to be quiet?
Well guess what?
They were kids once too!
And their parents told them to sit still and be quiet.
Remember that grown-ups?
And the guy in the black robe? What about him? Was he ever told hush?
What do you think?…
We’ve all been told to hush … especially the guy in the black robe. His mom was always telling him to hush!
This little dance has been going on for hundreds – no thousands of years.
For as long as there has been church, there have been kids making too much noise.
And for just exactly the same amount of time, there have been parents telling their kids to hush.
Actually… if we pay attention to the passage from the Gospel of Mark that Samantha read for us – we learn that this grand tradition of grown-ups getting huffy about kids being uppity began even before there was a church at all.
You see, some parents brought their children to Jesus, and I suppose those kids must have been a little rowdy, cause the disciples got all bent out of shape about it.
And they told the parents to take their noisy kids and get lost.
We still haven’t answered that question.
Why are grown-ups – in this case the disciples themselves – so determined to keep kids quiet?
Kids like to play.
They like to make noise.
That’s what they do!
So how come parents get so bent out of shape when kids do that in church?
Aren’t kids just being kids?
If grown-ups want things to be nice and quiet, why not just leave their kids at home?
Now I imagine what I just said might be music to some kid’s ears.
But I’m afraid I am not proposing this solution.
There is a good reason we want you kids to come to church.
A really good reason.
The best reason there is.
And the reason is this…
You are essential!
You, my dear children, are the most important thing in our lives.
You give this church life.
You give us all purpose!
Without you, we would be feel empty.
Without you, we would be feel sad.
You are absolutely essential.
OK, so that’s why we want you to come to church…
But if we want you to be here so badly, why are we always frowning and telling you to hush?
Well, there’s a good reason for this too.
A really good reason.
The best reason there is.
Because you need to learn.
You need to learn something essential!
You need to learn how to act properly.
You need to learn how to be respectful.
These are the things that you need to learn in order to live well with everyone else.
Living well with everyone else is called “community.”
And learning how to live well in community is not easy. It can be hard, especially for kids.
But church is a good community to learn these things in.
Because church is an essential community.
Why do I say that church is an essential community?
Isn’t every community important?
Some communities are better than others.
It depends on what the community is built on.
Some communities are built on bad ideas – like the idea, for example, that some people are not as good as other people.
That’s a bad idea.
Jesus did not like that idea.
So when he saw rules that said that some people were better than others, he broke those rules.
He made a new way of thinking.
And we follow that way of thinking.
We build our community on that new way of thinking.
Jesus said: Love God with all your heart and spirit, mind and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Our community is built on that essential idea.
The idea of love is an essential idea, and so, our community is an essential community.
A good place to learn how to live in community.
A safe place to learn how to be together.
That’s why Jesus said “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them…”
That’s why Jesus took the children up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
That’s what Jesus did.
And that’s what we do.
Because you, my dear children are essential!
So next time your mom frowns at you and tells you to hush…
You can wink at her, and say “I am essential.”
you better hush…
we love you.