Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
 


Lesson for Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 14, 2011)

Theme Song for Month: "Be the Change"

Scripture Reference: Matthew 15: 10-28

First Thoughts:  We’re going to use this first parable about the nature of “defilement” to lead into a follow-up lesson featuring Jesus’ encounter with the Canannite woman.  Here we see Jesus really challenging the religious leadership by telling them that the amount of energy they put into celebrating rituals correctly didn’t make them holy.  True holiness is determined by how we treat others, whether our words are loving and helpful.  What comes out of our lives shows what’s really happening in our hearts.

Props You Will Need:  Some kind of a health bar, for Leader 2 to eat.

Teaching as a Team
Leader 1:  What you eating there, (name)?
Leader 2: It’s a super-duper mega-health bar.
Leader 1: Wow.  What makes it so super-duper?
Leader 2: It’s got 30 grams of protein, no sugar, it’s gluen-free, vegan-compatible, and it’s kosher.
Leader 1: My goodness.  You’ve done a lot of research on that bar.
Leader 2: Yes, and my research tells me it’s the best bar in the world.  In fact, it’s such a good bar that I think that anyone who doesn’t eat this bar is a stupid-head.
Leader 1: Hmmm.  Well, (name), I think it’s a really good idea to make healthy choices in what we eat, and I think it pleases God that we take care of our bodies.  But I’m a little concerned when you call other people “stupid-head.”  You know, in our scripture reading today, Jesus tells us that it’s not what goes into our mouth that matters the most, but what comes out.
Leader 2: What do you mean?
Leader 1: Well, how do you think it makes someone feel if you call them a stupid-head?  I’d think it makes them feel pretty bad.  And when you hurt somebody on purpose it shows that your heart isn’t right with God.  You’re not being loving to the other person - you’re putting someone else down to feel good about yourself.
Leader 2: I didn’t think of it like that.
Leader 1: It’s easy to do that sometimes, especially for people who go to church.  Because we come to church and read the bible, and we might become proud of how hard we work to be good.  But once we become proud of ourselves, it’s easy for us to make fun of others, or to treat them like they’re not as good as us.  Jesus tells us that God wants us to have loving hearts, just like God is loving.  Which means we should always be caring towards people.
Leader 2:  Hey, I’m sorry about the stupid-head thing.   You want some of my sugar-free, vegan bar?  It’s got  crushed-up brussel sprouts!
Leader 1: (making an “icky” face) Maybe later.  But thanks for the thought!

Teaching on your Own:  Hey guys, look what I have here: it’s a super-duper mega-health bar.  It’s got 30 grams of protein, no sugar, it’s gluen-free, vegan-compatible, and it’s kosher.  I’ve checked around and I think this is the best health bar out there.  In fact, it’s such a good bar that I think that anyone who doesn’t eat this bar is a stupid-head.  Do you think I’m right?  No? You think I shouldn‘t say that?  Maybe you’re right.  You know, in our scripture reading today, Jesus tells us that it’s not what goes into our mouth that matters the most, but what comes out.  How would it make you feel if someone called you stupid-head?   Not only that, but when I call someone a name I’m showing that my heart isn’t right with God.  I’m not being loving to the other person - I’m putting someone else down to feel good about myself.  Sometimes that’s easy to do, especially for people who go to church.  Because we come to church and read the bible, and we might become proud of how hard we work to be good.  But once we become proud of ourselves, it’s easy for us to make fun of others, or to treat them like they’re not as good as us.  Jesus tells us that God wants us to have loving hearts, just like God is loving.  Which means we should always be caring towards people, and try to help them, not make fun of them.

Closing Prayer:  Thank you, God, for the teachings of Christ which help us to have strong, caring hearts.  We pray that you will help us to be kind to others, and to work for the good of everyone we meet.   In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: A great way to follow up this children‘s sermon, in a classroom or home setting, is to visit the story of the Canaanite woman found later in this passage.  To begin with, we revisit the children’s sermon lesson - that Jesus teaches that what comes out of the mouth is more important than what goes in.  Give the kids some background on the strict Jewish leaders - how they worked really hard to follow lots of regulations, about what they ate, and how they bathed.  Following these strict regulations also meant they weren’t supposed to associate with anyone who wasn’t Jewish.  This sets the scene for the Canaanite woman who has a sick daughter.  How would the disciples, all good Jews, respond to her coming to them?  She’s an outsider, “dirty” and untouchable.  Even Jesus calls her a dog at first.  But she loves her daughter and argues for compassion until Jesus sees her heart and answers her prayer.  When Jesus responds to the woman’s plea, he lives out that earlier teaching - it doesn’t matter what a person looks like, what they eat, or how they dress.  What matters is what’s in the heart.   The woman is a Canaanite, but her heart was strong and full of love.  And that’s what God saw.  Help the kids think of divisions they see in their daily life.  Rich/poor, good grades/bad grades, boy/girl, etc?  Where do these divisions come from?  Do they give us an excuse to be mean to other people?  What would Jesus say about them?