Prepare: Bring something with you that is a reminder or how you relieve stress for yourself (ideally a healthy stress relief!). For example, I like to run or walk when I am stresses out, so I might bring my running shoes.
As you gather the children ask them if they have every felt like they cannot do or say anything right. Like everything they do or say makes someone else upset or gets them in trouble.
In the Gospel reading today we hear what seems like a pretty upset Jesus. He even says that he is under stress! There are some clues in the story about what is causing Jesus to be upset, but we really can’t be sure exactly what it was because we weren’t there and, more important, it wasn’t happening to us. And even being there or being the person who is upset doesn’t always make it easier to understand.
I don’t know about you, but there have been plenty of times in my like when I have been stressed out and upset and said some pretty strange or mean things, and I really had no idea what was making me so upset. Have you ever felt like that? And sometimes its not just one thing that is upsetting me, it’s a bunch of things. I think that might be what’s going on with Jesus, too. He know that he is on his way to Jerusalem to be arrested and die, he can hear people around him arguing about who he is and what his stories mean, he has even told them what is going on and they still don’t get it!
Just to be clear, being upset is OK. Being stressed out sometimes is normal, too. Jesus seems to be able to blow off a little steam and still work to guide people with a good story, but what do we do? I brought my running shoes with me, because that is what I like to do when I feel stressed out, or upset, or just overwhelmed with what is going on. I put on my shoes and head out of a run. I know that whatever is going on, no matter how bad it seems, Jesus is with me, and Jesus understands what it’s like to feel like everything is going wrong.
Loving and understanding God, thank you for all the relationships that we have. Help us to love the people around us and to understand that when things go wrong it’s OK, and that you are still there with us. Amen.
Make a wall of healthy stress relief! Use this as a chance to create some good social groups in your congregation, or as a way to figure out some interests. Maybe you have a church full of runners and don’t know it. Maybe you have the makings of a chess club! Engage people in a conversation about stress relief and interests that might help to build community. If could be written thing, or a discussion, or make a big banner. Whatever you think will engage the congregation in fun community activities.