For the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 12
(from Saving the Ants)
Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud
Scripture Reference: Rom. 8:26-39
Preparation: Bring with you a stuffed animal, preferably one that means something to you.
Do any of you have a favorite stuffed animal that you play with all the time? (Let children tell about their favorites, then introduce your stuffed animal.) I brought my favorite stuffed animal with me this morning. This is my bear, Winnie the Pooh. (Here, you can tell your own story. An example follows.) One Christmas morning, when I was four years old, I opened a big box and looked inside. There were all my friends from the Winnie the Pooh books! Kanga and Roo, Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet, and, of course, Pooh Bear. Winnie the Pooh was my favorite. I took him everywhere with me.
Now I want to read you a Bible verse from Romans, chapter 8. “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from (God’s) love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we’re high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God” (vv. 38-39 NLT).
Can anything pull us away from God? No! We’re inseparable. When I read this verse, I thought of my favorite stuffed animal and of other kids with their favorite toys. Have you ever seen someone try to take a favorite toy away from a child? They will hang on for all they’re worth.
I imagined someone trying to take my Pooh Bear away from me. I really don’t think anybody could manage it. I want you to try to take my favorite bear out of my arms, okay? When I say, “Go!” anyone can try to get my bear. Ready, GO! (Hang on tightly to your stuffed animal. If needed, hold it high over your head.) You couldn’t take my favorite bear away from me because Pooh Bear and I are inseparable.
Think about how tightly you can hold your stuffed animals and how tightly you can hug the people that you love even more than your toys. God holds us closer than that. There is nothing on earth or in heaven that can take God away from us. Nothing, not even death, can pull us away from our heavenly Father’s arms.
Tonight, as you give someone a big hug goodnight or when you snuggle down with your favorite stuffed animal held tight in your arms, remember that God holds us even closer, and he will never let us go.
Prayer: Thank you, Almighty God, for holding us so close that nothing can ever take you away from us.