Sunday, March 13, 2016

Children's Sermon: the Jesus Fish

This morning's children's sermon was an illustration of the importance of being flexible while trying to stay on message. The following is a transcript of what (should have) happened.

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Good morning! How are you today? I'm so glad to see you. Today, I have a riddle for you. Are you ready? the sound of one hand clapping? [I get some garbled answers, finally someone says, "silence!"] Listen! [I flap the hand that isn't holding the microphone.] One hand can't clap by itself! But two hands can clap together, because "Two are better than one." (Ecclesiastes 4:9a) [I get two of the girls to hive-five/clap my hand.]

Okay, I have another riddle. I'm going to draw you a picture. [I draw one, long, curved line on a piece of paper.] What is it? ["A hill!" "A smile/frown!"] Hmmm, maybe it's not done. Pastor Sheryl, could you complete the picture for me, please? [This is where the train derails, as she has a brain freeze and can't remember that I had asked her at the start of the service to help me draw a "Jesus fish." So she draws two eyes and a nose. "A face!" says one child. "Teamwork!" declares another. Teamwork it will be, as half a dozen children take turns adding teeth, a tongue, and a head to the face. I compliment them on their cooperation but attempt to steer the conversation back on track.]

Well, that's one way of completing the picture, but this is what I had in mind. [I scrawl two intersecting curved lines on the other side of the paper.] What does it look like? ["A fish!"] Yes, a fish, the "Jesus fish."

Have you ever seen a fish like this before? Maybe on the back of someone's car? Why do you suppose the fish is a symbol for Christians? ["Fishers of people," the feeding of the 5000/fishes and loaves, big catch of fish on the other side of the boat.]

A long time ago, when Christians were trying to find each other but couldn't say it out loud because they were being persecuted, one of them might draw a line like this--maybe in the dirt--and if the other one finished the drawing of the fish, then they knew they had found another Christian.

In one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Jesus says, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20) Let me say that again, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." That means that whenever we get together for Christian fellowship, Jesus is with us, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

How can you be in Christian fellowship this week? [Say grace before dinner, pray together, donate to the poor, go to Wednesday Night Live, attend Sunday School and church.] Those are all great ways to be together in Christian fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

Will you pray with me? Awesome God, / Help us / to love each other, / in Jesus' name. / Amen!

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Sheryl and I laughed about it later. No harm done, and I'm hardly going to complain about a "mistake" that gets the children more involved in the lesson. In case you were wondering, the "Jesus fish" is a play on a Greek acrostic: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter (Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior) = ichthys = fish.

N.B. ~ Other children's messages have been about mountaintop experiences and United Methodists around the world.

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