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Summary: Service recognizing students as they leave for school: Pack in your travel bags warmth for others, but no destructive attitudes; and pack gifts to share but no self-destructive feelings.

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Everyone say with me the key verse, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Getting ready is the biggest part of taking a trip. It takes almost as long to get ready to leave home as it does to take the trip itself. Around our house, when we’re getting ready to go away, we have boxes and suitcases and plastic bags all over the floor. It takes lots of energy and it soaks up oodles of time just to get ready to leave home, even for a little while.

Now the most important thing to do in getting ready to travel is to pack your bags. You have to figure out what to put in your travel bags. What will you need while you are gone? I always count out exactly what I need. If I’m going to be gone five days, I put five of everything in my bag ... five pairs of socks, five shirts, five, not four, not six, but exactly five. Don’t you dare ask me to change clothes during any of those five days

My wife, however … well, I’d better not talk about that.

The trouble is, you can’t take everything you might like to take; the TV set just will not fit in a suitcase. And although your dog and your cat and your goldfish might fit in, I don’t think they’d enjoy the ride very much. You can’t pack everything in your travel bag. So what will you take?

There was a man named Paul who was a very good traveler. In fact, the Bible tells us about several trips Paul took; we call these his missionary journeys. Before the last of his trips, Paul wrote a letter to the people in Rome; in this letter he told them that he was coming to see them. He told the Christians in Rome all about himself and tried also to tell them what he would be bringing when he came.

Now I don’t mean Paul talked about his clothes or his books or his other personal belongings. I mean he told them what feelings he was going to bring. What thoughts he would be packing. When you go out into the world, you take certain attitudes and feelings with you.

Give me a minute with the adults; they need a little help to understand. I’m talking about feelings, attitudes, and thoughts that you and I need if we are going to leave the safe, comfortable confines of the church, gathered here for worship, and get out into the world, where people hurt. If ours is to be a serving, compassionate church, caring for hurting humanity, there are certain mindsets we need to cultivate. Certain ways of thinking we need to practice in order to be effective and compassionate in the world.

Let’s find out what to pack in our travel bags.

I

The first thing I find in my travel bag is this nice warm sweater. Fuzzy, bulky, warm as toast sweater. Big enough to get lost in.

Now why in the world am I packing a sweater? It’s summertime, and it’s hot. Nobody needs a sweater or a coat or gloves or any of those things we were wearing last February. Why would I pack a sweater in my travel bag here in the middle of summer? Anybody got a guess?

Because, although I know that it’s warm right here, right now, in this place, I don’t know that about where I’m going. I don’t know that it’s going to be warm out there; I may find myself up in the mountains, where the night breezes are chilly. I may be a long way from home, and the weather will change. So even though in here, right now, it’ s too warm for a sweater, I’m going to take one in order to be ready for different weather.

You see, I’m really saying that when we go out into the world, away from our homes, away from our church, we to need to take love. We need to take love for other people. Many people are unprotected. They have no one to love them. They need us to love them. So once you get out on the playground or in the schoolyard or wherever you meet other people, you need to be packing some love.

Let me have another word for the adults: You know that the world is not as loving, warm, and friendly a place as home is or as the church is. The world can be very cruel and cold, callous and uncaring. If we do not take love into that world, the things we preach will be noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. The world needs love from us; and we must draw on the love of God in order to have the strength to love. It is our responsibility, in fact, it is our privilege, as Christians, to love with depth, warmth, and care those persons who are caught up in pain. Whatever their need, at heart it is a need for love.

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