Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on [date] June 23, 2019 …
Title: Children’s Day
Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Luke 23:34,
1 John 4:7-21.
Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy]
Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
This past Tuesday was an amazing day for me, answered a lifelong goal. I have always wanted to be a teacher of happiness. When I got to go to Potomac, Illinois for the district United Methodist Women and teach them about happiness. It was so much fun. There was a book I read, but I want to tell you the secret of where I learned most of what I know about happiness. It’s from this happiness expert. This is my granddaughter. And one day while grandpa was sitting in the beanbag chair to force her to take a nap. She decided to play peekaboo with me, and eventually, she fell asleep. I see you. Friends happiness is contagious, you can catch it from your children. If you don’t have children available, I’ll guarantee you, you can catch it from your grandchildren. But I’ll also be honest with you, if you love from your heart, you can catch it from time to time. Because happiness comes back and forth from one person good enough. Let me also tell you about the Dead Sea. At Pentecost, there’s an important lesson for us about the Dead Sea. You see that warth right there, the water used to be that deep. Since 1930, the lake has decreased to 60% of the area in that it was back then. Why is that? All the water of the Jordan River Valley flows into the Jordan River. All of the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea and guess what, it doesn’t go anywhere, it just sits there. And because it has no place to go, the sun bakes it, and it just evaporates. Evaporated to the point that the water in the Dead Sea is 10 times as salty as ocean water. Virtually nothing can live there. That’s what happens when you don’t slow out. When what flows in has nowhere to flow out. This is how God made the world. What flows in whether it’s water, whether it’s the Holy Spirit, whether it’s God’s love, it’s supposed to go somewhere. Because you know something, it doesn’t go anywhere, it just the bathroom. The lesson of the Pentecost and the Dead Sea is that whatever God is giving us, we need to let it flow. Otherwise, we’ll dry up to nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1 many of you are familiar with these words. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels – please read the next phrase with me – but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal
a few people have noticed that the level of people in the typical church is also decreasing. And you know what they think the solution is? We need people out there to pay more attention. Let’s put a big billboard. Let everybody know there’s a church here. It would be wise for us if we turned all that energy that we put into getting people’s attention. “Look at me. Look at me. Look at me.” We would be wise if we put all that energy into loving people because people in this world need love. And they’ll go where they can find it. Take a look at the television shows like Friends. I’m showing my [inaudible] here. Friends has been here for a long time. But it’s a perfect example. Whether it’s Friends or whether it’s the team at NCIS, people were looking for family. They grew up with a family and maybe that family had problems. Most families do. They grew up and they moved all the way across the country to Austin, Texas or some place like that. That’s where my grandchildren live. But whereever people land, they look for family. They look for people who will love them. And if you put your energy into loving people, people will find their family with you. Attention seeking, acting like a clanging cymbal, it’s not worth it. Here’s another thing. Miracles. Now, I’m all in favor of miracles. I pray for miracles every day. First Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 2 and 5. If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to be able to pray and see a mountain move – please read the next four words with me – but have not love, I am nothing. Perhaps, what we should be praying for is the miracle of learning how to love people. Because God’s love flows into us. It needs to flow out into somebody else or it’ll just disappear. That’s the lesson of the [Dead Sea?]. But certainly, I think it’s true. We’re learning in a less loving world than when you and I were children. And I would say honestly, that’s probably a less learning world than our grandparents’ childhood because the world has gotten to be a pretty grim [inaudible]. So, I think we should strive for the miracle of learning how to love. [Third?] verse then there’s this one. Paul wrote these words and within a few years, for several centuries, the whole focus of the church was on asceticism. They valued people who were willing to suffer for Jesus. They valued people who were willing to be martyrs. And it’s not hard to be a martyr. All you have to do is walk up and slap a Roman soldier. It’s not hard. But that was the role that everybody put up. The more that we suffer– do you know something? Here’s what it says if I give away all I have. If I deliver my body to be burned at the stake but have not love, I gain nothing.” What we do in love has the greatest gain. It flows in. It needs to flow out. It is the most normal thing in the world for love to flow out into the lives of other people. Jesus raised the bar pretty high. This is what it means to love people. When Jesus was on the cross, he looked down at the people who were harming Him, who were making fun of Him, who were condemning Him, and trying to shame Him, and he said these words. Please read them with me. “Father forgive them for they no not what they do.” The soldiers around the foot of the cross– the only thing they cared about was dividing up his few possessions. They didn’t know what they were doing. The other people who came and shamed Him and attacked Him and criticized Him, they didn’t know what they were doing either. But this is the high standards that set in front of us, to love people the way Jesus loved people. And I would suggest to you– it’s not very hard when they’re this cute, but it’s a little bit harder when they get older and more evil. But at this age, it’s not hard at all, right?
This is from I John 4:7. Perhaps, one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. It speaks very clearly. John says to us today, “Beloved, let us love one another, why? For love is of God and the one who loves is born of God.” Would you like to be born again? Would you like to be born of God? There it is. That’s how you do it. Learn how to love like Jesus loved and you’ll be reborn. Oh, look down underneath there. “And knows God.” Are you someone who studies the Bible? Are you someone who has graduate degrees in theology? Do you have all of that and don’t have love, you no nothing, because if you really want to know God, God will show you everything you need to know if you begin to be loving from your heart. Verse 8. “The person who does not love does not know God no matter who they are.”
That is why this pastor tries very, very, hard as the first choice among many choices I have when it’s time for me to make a decision to do the thing that is loving. Why? Because God is love. John goes on to say, verse 9. “In this, the love of God was made manifest among us that God sent His only son into the world.” That’s why we say, “Joy to the world.” This all started with a baby. Why? So that we might live through Him. But if you are willing to live through Him, it will be because you are loving people because that’s how we’re reborn. A few weeks ago we talked about Mother’s Day in a lot of churches. I think Mother’s Day represents unconditional love. Although, father’s give lots of unconditional love. But I think, for some reason, this hangs onto mothers. Here’s a very sad reality I found years and years and years ago. My son was crying and I went into the room where he was and I began to lecture him on the values of sleep. I could not get him to take notes for nothing. If there was a quiz he would’ve flunked it. You can’t teach a baby anything except to know that they’re loved. You can’t teach a baby anything except to know that when the baby cries, you will come and love them. Psychologist, Aaron Erickson said the first thing a child learns, does somebody love me so that when I call for them they come to me? Now, why would I call that unconditional love? I have no idea why babies want you to come to them at 3:00 in the morning. It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all. But they don’t see to know how to tell time. But this is about the only thing you can teach a baby, and that’s that they are loved, unconditionally.
Then we have Father’s Day. Please take a look at that expression. By the way, in case you’ve not figured this out, these are pictures of Aubrey. Jared, I hate to tell you, Aubrey doesn’t look like she’s very certain about this.
No. She wasn’t very happy about this.
Won’t be the last time. But I suggest that last week, on Father’s Day, that what father’s love, although mother’s give a lot of this love too. Father’s love is love that taught you to go beyond what you already knew and to learn new things. It’s love that calls us not to stay the way we are, because let’s face it, if you stayed a baby– well, let’s not go there. I’m not getting up at 3:00 am for someone who’s over 18, that’s for sure. Love needs to call us to grow up. To take on new challenges. To try hard. To, sometimes, not do what we want but, instead, to do the right thing, whatever that is. Mother’s speaks that too, but maybe we could call that father’s love. We can not ignore the questions of a growing child. Furthermore, you can not abandon them to find their own answers.
On Friday, the [Salt?] group went down to Desoto, Illinois. Desoto’s a town, if I remember right, of about 2,000 people. It’s a town where most of the people in town are poor. The Methodist church in Desoto closed and some of the people in Murphysboro, not that far away, said, “It’s a shame that there’s no church in that town for the children.” So they decided to try to restart the church and they failed. But what they were able to do is to gather about 35 children and our missions committee supports what they’re doing. They have about 35 children that come on Sunday morning for worship and Wednesday night for fellowship and a meal. These are kids who are so poor it might be the only meal they get. They have a room, a Sunday School room, with clothes in it because the parents cannot afford to buy clothing for the children. So parents will send the kids, “You need to pick up one of these while you’re at church.”
The lady who runs the program said, “These are the most rambunctious, if not flat out evil children we have ever seen in our life. When they started coming here, they had zero manners and pretty much still don’t but they’ve learned to love Jesus,” because a half dozen adults decided they would step in for the parents who weren’t being parents. And those children are still coming and it’s changed their life and it’s changing their lives. Because guess what? A baby doesn’t care where the loves come from. If their parents are unable to give them love they’ll take it from you and if you’re willing to give that love God could use it to change a young person’s life. Not only that plenty of old people need love too, and plenty of people in between. Loneliness is increasing in our society. Loneliness leads to depression. I can tell you as a scientific fact, loneliness is one of the greatest killers of people in our world today. And the church has the answer for all of that. If when God’s love flows into you, you allow it to flow out to someone else. And of course, what that means is that you have to notice the people around. You have to notice your neighbor. There’s a commandment. You’re supposed to love yourself and love your neighbor.
Where have you seen love flowing out from you this week? This coming week I’d like to ask you to notice because God will bring somebody right in front of you that needs some kind of encouragement. Some kind of positive words. Sometimes just a smile. God is asking for your help. Why? Because the love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay. Say it with me. Love isn’t love until you give it away. And if you don’t give it away, it’ll disappear. The Holy Spirit wasn’t put in your heart there to stay. The Holy Spirit isn’t doing what the Holy Spirit wants to do until you give it away. And answers to prayer weren’t just for you. They’re for the people around you because God loves them too. Easter night first thing that Jesus said to the disciples, the first few words, a few of them were these. As the Father has sent me, I send you. Every single one of us is sent. There should be a sign over every exit door that says, “You are now entering the mission field.” Every single one of us is a missionary. And you look at me and say, “Pastor Dave, what am I supposed to do?” If you start by loving people you’ll figure out everything else you need to do. Just start with loving people, and God will show you everything else you need to do and it will flow into you in the measure that it flows.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we have a lot of heart and we have a lot of love today. We just send it all down to Austin, where the grandchildren are. We send it off to where our favorite ball team is playing. But Lord, you have an inexhaustible supply of love. No matter how much we give away we’ll be filled up again. Help us Lord not just to see the needs everywhere but to see the neighbor on our street so that we might be a part of you loving them so that they could grow, so that they could be reborn, so their lives could change, and Lord so that our churches might be more like a living, growing family. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. I’ll be honest with you, you don’t think you know this hymn
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.