|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on July 31, 2016 at 7:35 PM|
July 31, 2016 Hands of Christ Benefit Concert
Today’s Scripture is the story of Jesus blessing the children. Matthew 19:13-15
Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." And he laid his hands on them and went on his way…
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
This passage is familiar to all of us. If you have worked at any of the Hands of Christ distributions this past week you have also heard it as part of the Blessing of the Hands service, that time in which we gather together prior to serving the children each day to center ourselves on the purpose of the day. If you work at any the upcoming distributions this passage will again be heard by you.
When hearing this passage, I often focus on the disciples being scolded by Jesus for trying to “shoosh” away the children.
Today I want to focus on Jesus’ actions with the children. He made them a priority. They were going to be the most important thing in his life for the time that they had together. Jesus was going to take the time lay his hands on them and to bless them.
Can’t you see Jesus addressing each one individually, calling them by name, … and they had on no name tags?
“Miriam, how are you? What’s your doll’s name? ‘Nitsa?’ That’s a nice name for a doll. Bless you Miriam and bless you Nitsa.”
“Ben, what happened to you? You are missing two teeth. I bet you are in second grade and can’t wait for your new teeth to grow back in. Let me assure you that they will.”
“David, good afternoon!” How have you been? You know, my dad was a carpenter, too. Make sure you learn as much as you can from him. Remember, measure twice, cut once.”
“Rebecca! I’ve been waiting all day for you to come see me. How’s that scraped knee doing? Can I touch it and make it feel better?”
Jesus was going to make each one feel special.
Jill Duffield, the editor of The Presbyterian Outlook in her recent column of July 18, told of her neighbor, who said he was going to write a book entitled “We Use to Stop on Yellow,” lamenting how we have made our over-scheduled lives so hectic. This gentleman, Jill reports, always made time for others. There was no need to run the stoplight as there would be enough time anyway at the end of his journey to tend to whatever matters might be at hand. The neighbor was always willing to stop to help with the plumbing, take care of the pets, or just pull in the driveway to chat if he saw them out in the yard.
How often do I drive home tired after a day at the College and dash in my house, barely waving to Chase and Jackson as they play ball in the yard next door or Faith and Olivia on their bicycles? What about at work, when I whiz by my administrative assistant’s office and fail to ask how Lisa how her son Jake did in the swim meet the night before?
Jesus was different. He was like Jill’s neighbor. Jesus was always stopping to chat or help out. Heal a lame person here, a deaf one down the road; to a blind man, “Here put this mud on your eyes and have your sight restored.” Can’t get in the pool fast enough?-- Just throw away your crutch and get up and walk. The woman at the well, a Samaritan no less, he was willing to spend time with her, just talking, and changed her life.
Jesus wasn’t sending texts, tweets, Instagrams or Snapchats or posting to Facebook. Jesus was never superficial. He was always genuine and totally focused on the person of the moment and that person’s needs. Jesus was the world’s greatest teacher. … I bet he was also the world’s greatest listener.
There is a reason that we give each child and each volunteer a name tag. Unlike Jesus, we need a little help with names. We ask each shopping buddy to get to know the child that they are helping. Learn their name, introduce them to each person along the way at each of the clothing stations. Find out their favorite sport and team, subject in school, TV show, video game, or whatever it takes to make it personal. For those 15 or 20 minutes, be that child’s best friend. That’s what Jesus did. He demands no less of us.
Come to think of it. What we do for these children, ought not we be doing every day, for everyone else? How much better would this world be if we took time to be neighbors to each other?
A friend of mine posted on Facebook not too long ago the following:
When I moved down south I wondered all the time, "why are all these people talking to me!?" If people talked to you in Boston on the subway, you knew they were nuts. It was a social contract---leave me alone and I will leave you alone. But down here people were always chit-chatting you up at the grocery store and I was thinking, what is wrong with these people? Now… I am one of the nutty people.
We southerners are apt to do that, to strike up a casual conversation in the checkout line. But what I’m talking about is Jesus’ example of not just being friendly, but being neighborly, of showing Christ’s love, of truly letting that person in front of you know that you care, that you look them in the eye, and that you are truly listening, not just to their words, but to their heart, and to their needs.
At the closing of our Blessing of the Hands service we recite together in unison the words of Teresa of Avila (1515-1582):
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
A local pastor always uses in his benediction words that go something like this:
“May you see the face of Christ in every person that you meet, and may everyone you meet see the face of Christ in you.”
The mission of Hands of Christ is to bring Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations together to meet the basic needs of children, showing them Christ’s love.
As we go out from here tonight, to the spaghetti supper, to our jobs tomorrow, and to wherever you might serve, not only in the lines at one of our distributions, but wherever you are, even in your own family, ask yourself these questions:
“Am I speeding through this yellow light?
“Should I slow down, stop, and see what God has in store for me at this moment with the person I am with?
“How can I meet the basic needs of this person?
“How can I show them Christ’s love?”
Soli Deo Gloria