Sermon Illustrations

When I was in New York, I taught confirmation. I’m delighted to announce that Scott Roby and the confirmation teachers are planning to use the materials (updated, of course) that I used. The strength of the curriculum is that each student has a mentor, an adult from the congregation.

The young people in the my class came from very different social economic settings. One boy at 13 had already had a brush with the law. His name was Omar and he was being raised by his grandmother. He was so clearly a sweet, kind boy, but like all children he was open to peer pressure, just like we adults are.

One day each child was given a scripture story that they were to read and then summarize for the class. It’s not easy to read and summarize a Bible story—I know! Omar got the story of Moses’ call. While the children were reading their stories, I was circulating among them. Omar asked me to help him. He signaled me to step outside the room so we could talk privately.

Outside, he explained that he didn’t understand the story at all! We sat on a bench outside the class and he read the story to me, stumbling. After each sentence he would look up at me. Together we explored the story. I gave him some history about Moses, explaining about his being adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and how he had to flee from Egypt because he had killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave.

Omar got it. He said that he was also adopted by his grandmother because his mother couldn’t raise him. He said he had made a mistake and gone to juvenile court. Then we got to the part where God called Moses, but Moses kept saying, “No.”

When Omar’s turn to summarize his story came, he was ready. He told the story efficiently and clearly. Then, he went beyond the story to say, “God could have given up on Moses. Moses made a lot of very bad mistakes, but God didn’t give up on Moses and God won’t give up on me or you. God sticks with us no matter what.”