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August 2011

Sweet Words

For the 11th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 17 (Lectionary 22)

(from Saving the Ants)

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud
Scripture Reference: Jer. 15:16 “[Your] words were found, and I ate them, and [your] words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart . . .” RSV and Rom. 12:21 “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” NIV

Preparation:  Pour a box of alphabet-shaped cereal into a bowl to distribute at the end of sermon, or prepare small bags of cereal to give to each child.

Have you ever thought about how words would taste if you could eat them? Some words really sound like the thing they describe, don’t they? The word soft, for example, sounds soft. But if you could taste the word soft, what do you think it would taste like? (Let children offer their own ideas.) Maybe it would taste like a marshmallow, or meringue, or pudding? What would the word rock taste like? Crunchy and gritty? Bitter?

Have you ever heard the expression “I’m gonna make you eat your words”? A person might say that if she heard someone say something that she wanted to prove wasn’t true. Let’s say that a kid was teasing another kid about her report card. One kid says, “You couldn’t get an ‘A’ on your report card even if you went to school for a million years!” So the other kid says, “Just you wait! Next semester, I’m gonna make you eat your words!” And sure enough, next semester, after working really hard in school, the kid who was being teased shows up with straight A’s on her report card. The other kid has to eat his words, take back what he said.

If we had to actually eat every word we spoke, do you think we’d be more careful about the things we said? Angry, mean words would not taste very good. Encouraging, kind words, however, would probably be delicious! What sorts of words do you think would taste good? Any ideas? (Let children offer their suggestions.)

There is an interesting verse in the Bible where Jeremiah is talking to God and says, “[Your] words were found, and I ate them, and [your] words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart . . .” (Jer. 15:16 RSV). The words that God had spoken to Jeremiah must have been good, kind words, because Jeremiah thought they tasted delicious!

Think about the words you say today and how they might taste. If you find yourself saying something that you wouldn’t want to taste, maybe you can think of something nicer to say that would taste much better.

To help you remember to use sweet words, I brought along some sweet letters today. Before you go back to your seats, I’d like everyone to take some letters from the bowl. I hope you have fun eating your words.

Prayer: Thank you for your sweet words of love and encouragement, dear Lord. Put good words in our mouths today.

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