Anna's Hosannas!
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   Home      Epiphany 8A
 
"Leave the Rest to God"
 
Based on Matthew 6:24-34
 
First Thoughts: Here Jesus gives a simple instruction: don't worry. Easy to say, not to easy to do, right? Our culture encourages us to live for the future, to always be planning ahead. This makes sense in an economic system based on the principle of scarcity. Our security lies in how much wealth we store, how much we can set aside for a "rainy day." But Jesus tells us a very different story. Our security does not lie in our ability to think ahead, but in the simple fact that God loves us and will provide for us. According to Jesus, then, our problems come not so much from thinking too little about the future, but from thinking too little about what we're doing right now. Take a moment to pause in your reading, take a deep breath, and say "Now." Now is where all our power is. Right now when we can choose to be loving or thoughtless, generous or stingy, present or absent. All of our tomorrows come from this now.
 
Props You Will Need: Ankle bandage (optional)
 
Teaching as a Team
(Leader 2 walks in, limping on his right foot)
Leader 1: Hey (name), what happened? Are you hurt?
Leader 2: Yeah. I twisted my ankle yesterday walking home from soccer practice.
Leader 1: How did you do that?
Leader 2: I decided to take a shortcut through a field. I was thinking about the big game we have coming up in a few weeks. I was going over some of our big plays in my mind, thinking about just how I would pass and kick and head the ball. I guess I wasn't looking where I was going, because that's when I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle. Now I don't know if I'll even be able to play in the game!
Leader 1: Oh, no. I'm sorry to hear that. But your story does remind me a little of our lesson today. One thing Jesus taught his disciples was not to worry about tomorrow, just to take care of things you need to do today.
Leader 2: What does that have to do with my twisted ankle?
Leader 1: Well, see, you were worrying about the game and not paying attention to where you were walking. Your mind was on the future.
Leader 2: And I fell in the hole.
Leader 1: Right. Jesus told us it really didn't make a lot of sense for us to spend so much time worry about what might happen in the future, because God's always with us. God knows what we need and will take care of us. Also if we don't pay attention to what's right in front of us, our carelessness could actually cause us more problems than we would have had in the first place.
Leader 2: Like missing the game because of my ankle. So what do I do now?
Leader 1: Just what Jesus said. Do what you need to do right now...
Leader 2: Like resting my ankle?
Leader 1: Right. And leave the rest to God.
 
Teaching On Your Own: (limping up) Hey, everybody. Guess what happened to me - I twisted my ankle yesterday walking home from soccer practice. See, I decided to take a shortcut through a field. I was thinking about the big game we have coming up in a few weeks. I was going over some of our big plays in my mind, thinking about just how I would pass and kick and head the ball. I guess I wasn't looking where I was going, because that's when I stepped in a hole and twisted my ankle. Now I don't know if I'll even be able to play in the game! Isn't that a bummer? I guess the upside is that it does remind me a bit of our lesson today. One thing Jesus taught his disciples was not to worry about tomorrow, just to take care of things you need to do today. You see, I was worrying about the game and not paying attention to where I was walking. My mind was on the future. And what happened? I fell in the hole. Jesus told us it really didn't make a lot of sense for us to spend so much time worry about what might happen in the future, because God's always with us. God knows what we need and will take care of us. Also if we don't pay attention to what's right in front of us, our carelessness could actually cause us more problems than we would have had in the first place. Like me missing the game because of my ankle. What do you think I should do now? Maybe I should follow Jesus' advice, just do what I need to do right now - like resting my ankle - and leave the rest to God. What do you think?
 
Closing Prayer: God, help us to keep our attention focused on this day, on the work you've given us to do right now. We trust you to take care of our future, so we don't have to worry about it. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.
 
Follow-Up Lesson: To reinforce this message in a home or classroom environment, ask the children what it is that causes them to worry. How does it change the situation when we worry about something? Just worrying doesn't really do anything, does it? Jesus reminded us that worrying doesn't add a single hour to our lives, and actually it steals our lives away from us by preventing us from enjoying and appreciating the world around us right now. Tell the children that, in Jesus' day, people were worried about getting their basic needs met: food to eat, clothes to wear, places to live. He told them that God loved them and would provide for them, just as God provides for all the other creatures in nature. Point out the imagery in verses 26 and 28: the birds of the air who trust God to provide their food every day, the lilies of the field which are clothed in beauty. If God takes such care with the smallest things on our earth, won't God take care of us too?   Invite the students to come up with other evidence of God's care in the earth: nuts which feed the squirrels, the rain which nourishes the plants, the shell which houses a hermit crab, all these come as gifts from God. For a craft idea, invite each child to create a handprint lily. Provide each child with a piece of yellow construction paper and invite them to trace their hands on the paper and cut them out. Next curl each finger back around a pencil, to create the opened petals. Use the palm of the handprint to create a cone (with fingers curling outward) and secure with tape or glue. You should now have the blossom of the lily, which you can staple to a green pipe cleaner. Invite the students to cut leaves out of green construction paper and staple them on the pipe cleaner. Next have each child create a "vase" by cutting a circle out of a different color construction paper, also cutting a line from one edge of the circle to the middle.  Have them write these words around the outside of the circle, "Do Not Worry About Tomorrow." Then fold the circle in on itself, with the words on the outside, creating a cone and securing it with tape or a staple. Insert the stem of the flower through the middle of the "vase." Close with prayer.