Prepare: Ideally this works best as a little skit. You can set up something with another worship leader, or with one of the children. You can also try to just set it up to happen as you go! The idea is that the other person takes something from you and walks away. It can be almost anything, your cup of coffee, a pencil, your Bible, anything! You can work out what the goal of them taking it was – it could be because they don’t have a Bible, or that they needed something to write with, or that they were just trying to have fun and didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. You decide.
Set your skit in motion as the children gather! Have the other person in the skit walk up to you and take whatever they were set up to take from you. Say something like, “Hey! What are you doing? That’s mine!” They should respond with something typically bully-ish, like, “Well it’s mine now!”
OK – wait a minute . . . I read something about this very situation in the Bible! Even though they just took something from me I should treat them with love. I think it’s today’s Gospel reading! Let me look . . . yes, Jesus says that we should love our enemies, we should treat other people as we would want them to treat us. Ok, that’s super not easy in this case. I need that back and they were just really mean to me. I don’t want to be loving! And I would never just walk up and grab something from someone, so why should I have to be nice back?
I have a hard time with this, too. Jesus is asking a lot of us. It’s hard to be loving when we don’t feel loved in return. It’s hard to be caring when we are afraid we will be hurt. It’s hard to give up the things that we like and care about because someone else might need them more.
And it gets even harder! Being loving and caring doesn’t mean you should put yourself in danger of getting hurt, and it doesn’t mean that you should just let people take anything they want from you. Because when you think about how you would want to be treated, you would probably want to know if what you did hurt someone else’s feelings, right?
This is one of those really hard stories from Jesus. It was difficult for the disciples to understand, and it’s still difficult for us!
So (turn to the person who took you stuff), I don’t think that you really wanted to be mean to me. Is there some reason that you took that? Is there something that you need?
(let the story play out the way you decided when you set it up)
Loving God, you give us some many good things, and so often we forget that the people around us are part of those good things! Teach us to be loving, especially to the people who are the hardest to love. Amen.
God Loves you no matter what!
Make a “ways to be loving” list. Even better if this is part of a congregational idea to think about being loving as a church in the community. Ask people for ideas about how to care for the neighborhood, or for a park, or for the people in your town, etc.