Children leave gift of love @ funeral
The Rev. Harry Pritchett Jr. is rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta. His church includes specific ministries for the poor, for street people, for college students. It is Pritchett who called my attention to a boy named Philip.
He was 9 – in a Sunday school class of 8-year-olds. Eight-year-olds can be cruel. The third-graders did not welcome Philip into their group. Not just because he was older. He was “different.”
He suffered Down’s syndrome and its obvious manifestations: facial characteristics, slow responses, symptoms of retardation.
One Sunday after Easter the Sunday school teacher gathered some of those plastic eggs that pull apart in the middle—the kind in which some ladies’ pantyhose are packaged. The Sunday school teacher gave one of these plastic eggs to each child.
On that beautiful spring day each child was to go outdoors and discover for himself some symbol of “new life” and place that symbolic seed or leaf or whatever inside his egg. They would then open their eggs one by one, and each youngster would explain how his find was a symbol of “new life.”
The youngsters gathered ‘round on the appointed day and put their eggs on a table, and the teacher began to open them.
One child found a flower. All the children “oohed” and “aahed” at the lovely symbol of new life.
In another was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls said. And it’s not easy for an 8-year-old to say “beautiful.”
Another egg was opened to reveal a rock. Some of the children laughed. “That’s crazy” one said. “How’s a rock supposed to be like a ‘new life’?” Immediately a little boy spoke up and said, “That’s mine. I knew everybody would get flowers and leaves and butterflies and all that stuff, so I got a rock to be different.” Everyone laughed.
The teacher opened the last one, and there was nothing inside. “That’s not fair,” someone said. “That’s stupid,” said another. Teacher felt a tug on his shirt. It was Philip. Looking up he said, “It’s mine. I did do it. It’s empty. I have new life because the tomb is empty.” The class fell silent.
From that day on Philip became a part of the group. They welcomed him. Whatever had made him different was never mentioned again.
Philip’s family had known he would not live a long life: just too many things wrong with the tiny body. That summer, overcome by infection, Philip died.
One the day of his funeral nine 8-year-old boy and girls confronted the reality of death and marched up to the altar—not with flowers. Nine children with their Sunday school teacher placed on the casket of their friend their gift of love—an empty egg. (Paul Harvey)
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by Lou Nicholes on May 25, 2005
A custom of the natives in New Guinea is told. At certain times they have rituals, songs, and dances. They work themselves up into a frenzy and the ritual culminates in what are called “the murder songs,” in which they shout before God the names of the people they wish to kill. When the natives ...read more
Contributed by Byron Maynard on Apr 9, 2005
We have all heard the "Good New!"..."Bad News!" aphorisms. Here’s one with a little different twist. I have some "Bad News!...Good News!...Best News!" for you... The bad news, you are dying! It’s no joke, biologist tell us that every day, to some extent, each of us are dying...The cells and ...read more
Contributed by Brad Beaman on Jul 24, 2003
In the fifteen hundreds there was a protestant reformer in England by the name of Hugh Latimer. He was known as a great preacher of his day and he had many opportunities to preach. One of his opportunities was to preach before the King Henry VIII of England. He thought about his great ...read more
Contributed by Lynn Floyd on Jul 29, 2003
“The church is like Noah’s ark: The stench inside would be unbearable if it weren’t for the storm outside. It’s true—sometimes we stink and the world is stormy. But as imperfect as we are on this side of heaven, the miracle is that God in fact chooses to ...read more
Contributed by Jim Kane on May 25, 2004
Like Bill Hybels, I believe that there is nothing like the local church when it is working right. In addition, I agree with what he says after that sentence: “Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the ...read more
Contributed by Tom Shepard on Feb 18, 2016
This sermon looks at seven principles to win the battles of life. 1. Identify Your ENEMY 2. Don’t Be Driven By EMOTION 3. Take Your Problems To The LORD 4. Admit You Need HELP 5. Rely On God’s POWER 6. Relax In FAITH 7. Thank God In ADVANCE