Saturday, March 18, 2017

Peanut Butter, Mostly.

[At our Mennonite church recently I was the "storyteller" for the children's Sunday school classes, with what for me was a difficult scripture assignment... ]

Hi guys. Today I'm going to try to explain why many people in our church think children shouldn't take communion. You know, when we eat a tiny bit of bread, and drink a tiny sip of grape juice, together. Why don't we let you children do that?

One kid pipes up "Because we haven't been baptized yet?" [There is much to be said for both child baptism, and adult baptism. Good things can be done with either one. But today I'm going to try to do something good with the Anabaptist, adult baptism approach.]

Yeah, but why don't we baptize you when you're little?

Well, what are some other things we don't let children do? Would you like to get into one of the cars in the parking lot, start the engine, and drive out onto the highway?

"YES!!" said one. "NO WAY!", said another.

Right, it would be fun, but you could end up hurting yourself, or hurting someone else. If you made a mistake, it could be terrible. It's dangerous. That's why we wait until you're grown.

FIRST THING: Once I was a young man who didn't have much time in the morning before going to work. So for breakfast I'd make myself toast with peanut butter on it—that was the quickest breakfast I could think of. And since I already had the peanut butter and bread out, I'd make a couple of peanut butter sandwiches, put them in my lunch bag, and drive to work.

As soon as I got to work, I'd eat my lunch.

Then I'd work all day. When I got home in the evening, I was really hungry, so I'd make myself a snack before supper, the quickest thing I could think of...

"A peanut butter sandwich!" yelled someone.

Right. I remember one day somebody asked me "What kind of a man are you? What are you made of?" And I remember thinking, "Peanut butter, mostly."

And bread, don't forget the bread. So, what are you made of?

[Would you believe pizza, olives, ice cream, sushi... ]

SECOND THING: Does anybody know what "Christ" means?

No, it's not Jesus' last name. "Christ" is a Greek word that means the same thing as the Hebrew word "Messiah." So does anyone know what "Messiah" means?

[One kid says "Healer", I say "close". One kid says "Savior", and I say that's close too, can you be more specific?]

OK, does anyone know what a "doctor" is? What does a doctor do?

Right. A doctor's job is to stop sickness. "Messiah" or "Christ" isn't a family name, it's a job, sort of like doctor, or parent, teacher, or computer programmer. It means, what's your work. When we say Jesus Messiah, or Jesus Christ we mean something like Jesus, doctor. Christ is the name of a kind of work. But of course doctor isn't quite the same job as Messiah. The job of a doctor is to stop sickness, but the job of a Messiah is: to stop war. A Messiah keeps things fair, so people don't fight. Isn't that a great job?

Have you ever heard your momma or daddy tell someone what their work is? Like they might say "I'm a doctor", or "I'm a teacher", or "I'm a parent." When we ask someone what their work is, they answer as if we've asked them "What are you?" They don't say "my work is teaching" they say "I'm a teacher."

So, what would you like to be? What kind of work would you like to do?

[General discussion ensues. Anybody for zombie master?]

THIRD THING: So now we have two questions, "What are you" (which usually means "What is your work?" like "nurse") and "What are you made of?" (like "peanut butter"). Sometimes we mix the two questions together, to make one a story about the other. For instance, today's Bible story answers the question "What is a Christian?" meaning "What is a Christian's job?" by answering the question "What are Christians made of?" So, what do you think Christians are made of?

Here is the story, of the last time Jesus ate with his friends before Jesus was killed.
 Matt 26:26-28: During the meal Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.”
27 Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and drink it. 28 This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven.
Messiah, mostly. That's what Christians are made of, and that's what our job is. Messiah, mostly. Our job is to stop war. Our job is to keep things fair, so that people don't fight. It's not easy, and it can be dangerous. That's why we wait until you're grown.

photo credit: Dietmar Temps Buddhist novices, Myanmar (Burma) via photopin (license)