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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Joy of Childhood (JOY) (Mark 10.13-16)

Sermon by: Robert Austell; December 11, 2016
Text: Mark 10:13-16; Psalm 78:1-8

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
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:: Testimony :: Chris Orr testimony (audio link)

:: Scripture and Music ::
Gathering Music: Rick Bean, jazz piano
Hymn of Praise: O Come, All Ye Faithful (ADESTE FIDELES)
Song of Praise: Children of the Living God (Fernando Ortega)
The Word in Drama: children's skit w/Joy to the World
Offering of Music: Robin Hetterly, piano: Joy to the World (Mason, Arr. Bober)
Hymn of Sending: Good Christians, All Rejoice
Postlude: Royallen Wiley, organ

:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf) ::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks  the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript.  Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided  for that purpose.

Today I want to do something a little different. I want to invite all the children of the church to come join me up front like we do when we have the children’s sermon.

But you know what? The whole sermon today is going to be with you and for you. And the grown-ups… they just get to listen in. There was this time – we just heard about it in the reading – when people brought their children and babies to see Jesus. And the disciples wanted to send them away like Jesus was just for grown-ups, but Jesus told them, “No, let the children come… don’t get in their way. For the Kingdom of God belongs to ones like them!”

If Jesus was visiting our church, I think he’d sign up for the children’s sermon. He’d want to see you and talk to you and be with you. So that’s what I want to do today!

I want to tell you a story, ask you a question, and then hear Jesus’ words and blessing.

A Story

I don’t remember a lot from when I was 5, but I remember at least these two things: I prayed a prayer to trust in Jesus as my Savior and I told myself never to forget how much kids see and understand.

I prayed that prayer at Mr. Bill’s club. Mr. Bill was a nice man who met in homes near my house to teach children about Jesus. I don’t remember much about him, but I remember he told stories from the Bible and taught me that Jesus loves me and that Jesus could help me know God and go to Heaven. I got real concerned about going to Heaven and when Mr. Bill said we could pray to ask Jesus into my heart, I did that. I actually did that several times, but then my mom told me all it took was once and that Jesus was in my heart. I’ve never forgotten that!

The other thing I remember is being five and riding in the car with my mom, noticing all kinds of things around us… street signs, people in the cars next to us, and my mom’s mood that day. I remember she asked me something and I felt like I really understood WHY she was asking. I remember thinking that lots of times grown-ups kind of treat kids like they don’t understand things or don’t notice things and I remember just how much I did see and understand. And I remember making a promise to myself that when I got older, I would not forget being five and seeing and understanding the world around me way more than grown-ups gave me credit for. And that was a serious promise, because I’ve never forgotten it.

I share those two things because Jesus must have understood that kids see and understand way more than grow-ups give them credit for. He didn’t just say, let the kids come see me so I can play with them. But he gave them hugs and blessed them in God’s name. He also told the grown-ups that the kids got it – they understood something about God – that the grown-ups didn’t get. So remember… he said… remember what it was like to be a kid.

A Question

So I want to ask you a question. I think you see and understand way more than us grown-ups think. It may be hard to put words to what you are thinking, but I think you are all incredibly smart and see things and understand things. And Jesus told the grown-ups to try to learn from the children.

So here’s the question: What do YOU think grown-ups need to know (or remember) about Jesus? If you got to stand where I do and give the sermon, what would you say to the grown-ups about God or about Jesus?

When grownups sometimes get worried, like about money or their kids, God will help them with their worries.

If a grownup makes a mistake, God will forgive them.

If you ever worry about where your children are, remember that God sees them.

If something bad happens, God sees and knows everything.

If children don’t obey their parents (or if grownups don’t do right), God will always give them a second chance.

God will forgive even if we don’t behave.

Even when parents fight, God wants them to forgive and love each other.

God takes care of people.

The Words and Blessing of Jesus

Here’s the only thing I want to add to your excellent sermons. Jesus mainly spent his time that day with the children and babies. He loved them and he blessed them. But he did say one thing to the grown-ups. He said, “Truly, you’ve got to receive the Kingdom of God like a child.”

Please know that YOU (children) are an important part of our church. One of the many reasons you are important is that you show us grown-ups how to receive God’s gift of love, of Jesus. That’s what Jesus said! And I’m so glad you are here with us!

The last thing I want to do is what Jesus did. Mark says that Jesus laid his hands on each one of the children and babies and blessed them. And I’d like to do that. There are lots of kinds of blessings, but here’s the one I want to do: “May the Lord be with you.” And if you want to ask God’s blessing back on me, you could say, “And also with you.” That’s been around for a long time. Let’s try that with each of you and then we’ll say it to all the grown-ups at the end.

May the Lord be with you! And also with you! Amen.

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