Prepare: Make a list of rules on a big piece of paper. Maybe something like this (but feel free to adjust for your own style and circumstance).
- No food in the living room
- Athletic shoes only in the gym
- Don’t talk to strangers
As the children gather make them do something silly before they can sit down (or otherwise be ready for the children’s sermon). Something like you have to turn around 3 times, hop on one foot and high-five your neighbor before you can sit down! Be ready to make up a story that goes with your “rules for sitting down.”
I’m really glad that we all did those things before we sat down! Do you know why? Because they are rules! And they all mean something. We turned around three times because one time I was going to sit down and there was a snake where I was going to sit, so I always turn around three times to check . . . but I guess that’s not really a problem here, and I didn’t really look for the snake, either. But the hopping, that we do because one time I stubbed my toe on the couch before I sat down, so I always do that before I sit to remember not to stub my toe again . . . but I guess there’s not really a couch here. But the high-five, that one is important because I was playing a game with a bunch of people once and we did that when we all got back to the circle . . . but I guess we are not really playing that game right now . . . come to think of it, while those rules for sitting down all had a good reason, they don’t really make sense here, do they?
Huh, well, I brought some other rules that totally make sense and we should never break, ever. No matter what! The first one is “No food in the living room.” Well, unless your home sick, then you can eat in the living room. But the second one, “Athletic shoes only in the gym,” that one we never break. Oh, unless it’s awards night, and it’s in the gym, then we should wear nice shoes. OK, the last one is unbreakable for sure. “Don’t talk to strangers.” That one we never, ever break! Except, it’s probably good to say hi to the crossing guard even if you don’t know him, and you should order food from that server at the restaurant . . . OK, sometimes we break that one, too!
The thing is that most good rules are there to keep us safe, or protect precious things, or help us to live better. And we should always do our best to pay attention to those rules, but we also need to understand what’s going on around us. Jesus breaks a rule in the Gospel reading today, he works on the Sabbath. He heals a woman who is bent over and in pain, and he does it because she is right in front of him and needs his help. He knows the rule about the Sabbath, he knows that he is breaking it, but he also knows that it is more important at that moment to care for the woman in front of him. He just like the rules I talked about earlier, the best plan is to follow the rules, but sometimes caring for people needs to come first.
Good and loving God, we know that good rules are there to keep us safe and healthy, and we give thanks for that! Help us to also be loving and caring when we need to be so that we can show your love in the world. Amen
Golden Rule Chain! Create a space where people can share a time when they were treated with love and caring even though it was against the rules – OR – when they treated someone with love and caring when they *should* have just walked away.
This can be a popcorn prayer, or a time of open discussion, or you can have people tweet prayers to the pastor. You name it!
You could even make and art project out of it! Get a big piece if banner paper, and a bunch of markers. Out line a rainbow lightly with pencil and encourage people to write their “Golden Rule” moment on the rainbow in the correct color for where they write. (Don’t get too picky, it will be cool no matter what.)