Jeremiah 1:4 -10; 7:1-11; Matt 21:12-13
Doing God’s work is Messy. Jeremiah and Josiah both found that out early on. Josiah ordered reforms in the worship practices of his people – something any minister can tell you generally does not go over well, at least at first! He also had to defend his people’s land and faith against enemies on all sides. He eventually died in a battle against those who threatened his land. Jeremiah was given a whole lot of bad news to share with the people – and was imprisoned in a cistern because of it. In the end, he was taken to Egypt by friends to keep him safe from the Babylonian’s puppet rulers. It was from that place that he offered a vision of hope for the people. Doing God’s work is very Messy.
There’s some good mess in doing God’s work too. Getting our hands dirty for God can be incredibly meaningful too: feeding the hungry, offering shelter to the homeless, rest for the tired and burdened, a place for people to come and receive food for the spirit as well as the body, working with children and seniors and every stage in between. We face the creative chaos of childhood, the complexity of the teen years, the fruitfulness and hard work of our maturity, and the long days of fragile old age. Our lives encompass great joy and great sadness. It takes a lot of work and a lot of commitment, but those involved in this ministry can tell you, “doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God” is a blessed way to live our lives. On Children’s Sabbath, we especially focus on the care of children, and the gifts they bring to a congregation and a community. Having children in church makes things louder, and livelier, and more chaotic, and more fun; it’s a wonderful kind of mess, and I would never want to be without it! We also look at what God wants for children in our communities: a safe place, a loving home, enough food and clothing, a good education, and a chance to make a difference. Making this happen for ALL of Canada’s children involves getting into the messiness of politics, advocacy, and justice-seeking. But we get involved, because it’s what God wants of us. You might not know that the United Church Women across Canada have been heavily involved for the past year in a United Church campaign called “Bread Not Stones: Ending Child Poverty in Canada”, meeting with officials at all levels of government to lobby for changes that benefit the poor children of our nation – a total of 1,242,530 children. It warms my heart to see these women, many of whose children are grown and have children or grandchildren of their own, remaining so involved in caring for Canadian kids. If you want to read more about what’s happening check out the website: www.endchildpoverty.ca
Today we’re going to get Messy in yet another way. For those of you not familiar with Messy Church, it’s a program in which all ages are invited to engage with a Bible story or theme with all of our senses – with our whole bodies. All of us learn and engage in different ways, and Messy Church recognizes that. We don’t sit in pews and listen – we move around and get involved. Today we’re going to explore these themes of children and the reign of Christ in four different ways. (You’ll see them in the bulletin.) Those who want to sit and sing, can stay in the sanctuary and gather with Tim near the piano. Those who want to chat about the Scriptures, can join me in the lounge. Those who want to try out some of the Messy Church crafts from our theme “A Little Child Shall Lead Them”, can head for the Hall. And if you’d like to help me out with a simple craft project to get ready for the First Sunday of Advent next week, you’ll find that in the Hall as well. At the end of our time, I’ll visit each group to signal the end of our worship time, and we’ll sing together: “Go Now in Peace”. Then we’ll join in for conversation over coffee, etc as always.
From here on the service will proceed as usual, but after prayer time we’ll break into our groups. So let’s get Messy, in all the challenging, fun, creative and life-changing ways that God gives us.