Prepare: Bring a small cross – ideally one that stands up on its own. If you are doing the worship station you will also need a basket to put under the cross, small pieces of paper and some pencils or crayons. For the worship station (or even just for the children’s sermon) you can also have small crosses to give to the children.
Wow! Did you hear what Jesus just said! That didn’t sound like Jesus at all! He said that he comes to bring a sword, not peace, and that he comes to divide families so that everyone is fighting! What is he talking about! That seems really scary, and I thought Jesus was kind and loving! (ok, enough exclamation points, you get the idea, be excited.)
Let’s back up a minute and look at this again. Do you think that Jesus really means that he came to make people fight? No, I don’t think so, either. So what does this mean? Maybe we can think about it a different way. Nearly all of the things that Jesus did with his disciples, nearly all of the stories that we read about Jesus were things that made people really uncomfortable and angry when he was doing them. That doesn’t make much sense to us today because we have nearly 2,000 years of people talking and thinking about Jesus that helps to make all of this being Christian stuff seem pretty normal, but I bet I can still make you feel uncomfortable about doing what Jesus asks us to do.
Think about this – imagine that you are at the pool with a few of your best friends. You are laughing and joking around, splashing each other, and just having a good time when you see someone from school that none of you really like. All your friends decide to pick on that person, and they start splashing and yelling, which obviously hurts that persons feelings, but your friends don’t really care and they keep splashing and being mean. Now, you know that if you make your friends stop, or go help the other person that your friends are going to be mad at you, but you also know that it’s the right thing to do . . . so, what do you do? Stay with your friends where it’s safe and comfortable or defend and help someone who you don’t like?
When people choose to follow Jesus 2,000 years ago there was a risk of real violence and danger, there was a risk of swords! Thankfully most of us will never need to deal with that, but we do sometimes have to make difficult choices because of what we believe and what that means for how we behave. Sometimes doing what we should do comes with the risk of loosing a friendship.
(if you are doing the worship station, just skip to the prayer here)
I have a cross here. Let’s take a few seconds to think about what other things we risk or give up when we follow Jesus.
Worship Station: Have your cross set up (or your basket of crosses if they are going to take one with them) with the basket, paper, and pencils near it. Invite the children (or whoever else wants to join in) to take a piece of paper and think about two things: 1. What do you risk (or give up) when you follow Jesus 2. What is the reward for the risk?
Write the risk on the piece of paper (or draw), and leave the paper in the basket. Then say a prayer for courage and of praise at the cross (or over the cross that they are taking with them). You are welcome to print out the prayer below for people to use if they would like.
Loving Christ, following you is difficult. We often have to make choices between the things that make us feel safe and comfortable and the things that are right and good. Sometimes following you means that we might upset someone that we love and care about. Give us courage to do what is right and good even when it is difficult. Amen.
May God give you strength to love everyone you meet.