Children’s Sermon – 7th Sunday after Epiphany – Matthew 5:38-48

Prepare: The only thing you need is someone who is willing to let you hold their arms down.  It could be a child, youth or adult, but they need to be willing to play along (and not freaked out by having their arms held down!),

 Invite the children to gather as you normally do, but once they are all there make a grumpy face.  Kind of go back and forth between normal and grumpy a few times and see if you can get one of the kids to ask what you are doing.

 Yeah . . . I’m practicing my grumpy face.  See, I was reading the Gospel today and Jesus is talking about how we should love our enemies.  Jesus actually says that we should love people who  want to be mean to us and it made me grumpy!  Then I noticed something a little strange, my face got really tired of being grumpy.  I took a lot of effort to stay grumpy, like way more work than just being happy and content with the world.  But here’s the worst part – after I worked on being grumpy for a while, I noticed that it got easier.  So I started thinking about being grumpy, and it’s a lot of work to being with – harder than being happy or loving, but if you work at if for a while it gets easy and might even be a habit!

Let me show you what I mean, I need a volunteer (this would be where you need to have someone who’s arms you can hold down.  Alternatively, you could have the person use a door frame or even just the wall if that is a better option for you.) OK, this person here is going to work really, really hard at lifting her arms up to the side, and I am going to hold her arms in place.  (Hold the volunteers arms to their sides, or have them push out on a door frame).  Push really hard!  We are going to work at this for about 30 seconds.  Then, when I say so, I want you to just let your arms hang at your side. (If they do this right, their arms will *float* up away from their side because the muscles are now used to pushing out and up!)

See, first she tried really hard, and now it’s just a habit for her muscles to want to lift her arms!  So, if you practice being grumpy, like I was doing, eventually that is just what you act like all the time!  Jesus wants us to love our enemies because all people deserve love, even if we don’t like them.  And if we work hard at being loving then that becomes a habit, too!

 Jesus loves you even when you feel grumpy!

 Good and loving God, we know that we are called to love everyone, but it just so hard! Fill us with your love and give us the strength to share that love even with people who are hard to love. Amen

 For the worship station, simply invite people to repeat the arm experiment for themselves.  Give a little space for people to talk, reflect and giggle at the silly ways our bodies do things.

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