Summary: Sermon to conclude 2006 VBS event

(1) As I have already indicated this morning, a phone call from our national offices in Anderson late Thursday afternoon informing me that our scheduled missionary speakers were headed to his home state of Kansas, created a plan ‘B.’ Now I have had to go to plan ‘B’ before.

Many years ago, when I was a youth minister, I received an early Sunday morning call around 2 AM from the Senior Minister. He informed me that he was at the hospital with a pregnant woman and that I would need to preach later that morning.

When he told me this I was very, very tempted to say, ‘Does your wife know about this?’ But I refrained (and wisely so) from saying it because I did not have the full presence of mind (nor the courage) to say it! (It was his wife however.)

So around 7 or 8 AM, I headed to my office, typed out a sermon in 90 minutes, and got to announce the arrival of a new member that morning as well. (I think that she will be 19 this coming September.)

And several years before this event took place I was on a first date with a girl (before Susan) with whom I seriously entertained the thought of marriage. Now our first date was… to a revival service at her parents’ church out on the Illinois prairie near the town where I had gone to college and, at that point, worked in. There was no pianist present for the service. But I was there… and she knew that I played the piano and let them know very quickly that I played… which I did.

Well, having realized that I needed to prepare a sermon, I simply asked the Lord, “What do you want me to say this Sunday?” It is a question that I ask often. This question is the long version of a shorter; one word prayer often prayed by a pastor who struggles with sermon preparation… ‘HELP!’

I was already processing my September series and I thought that I might give an overview to that one. Then I entertained the notion that I would preach the next sermon in our summer sermon series.

But, as VBS drew to a close on Thursday night, I realized that what the kids had been taught during the week were some very important key concepts that are central to the Christian faith that are important for all of us to not just know but experience. Then I realized in a very important way that (2) Jesus Isn’t Just For Kids!

(3-8) One of the great things about kids is that their perspective can often give us adults a new perspective on things that we take fore granted or they can give us an entirely new view of something unique and different. (Wait for slides to cycle through.)

I am reminded of this in a heart-touching story about four year old Shane and the aging and sickly family dog, 10 year old Belker, as told by the vet who put the dog to sleep in the presence of Shane and his family. The parents had decided to tell Shane and let him be a part of that very hard process.

The vet said, ‘Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion.

We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why." Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me - I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "Everybody is born so that they can learn how to live a good life - like loving everybody and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, animals already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long."

This past week during our ‘Fiesta’ VBS we used a:

(9) …Blanket to represent a mat upon which a very sick man was brought by very persistent friends to Jesus for healing as we also need to remember that Jesus is our friend!

In Luke 5:17-25 we read about these persistent men who knew that their friend desperately needed help and that Jesus could help them and him.

Now this friendship is demonstrated in the midst of a tense situation between Jesus and the religious leaders of that day. They had written Jesus off as a ‘blasphemous’ or ‘irreverent’ person who thought He was God.

Someone once said that ‘a friend was someone who was coming in as everybody else was leaving.’ This is, in a sense, true in this situation.

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