For the 15th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 21
(Lectionary 26) From “Saving the Ants” Adapted from the Christmas Eve sermon
Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud
Phil. 2:5-11 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
What is one of the smallest, most humble creature you can think of? Name some really tiny creatures. (Let children offer their suggestions.) Ants are pretty small aren’t they? Especially compared to a human. But when humans are first born, they are pretty small too, aren’t they? They aren’t very powerful.
Jesus arrived on this earth as a little baby. Can you imagine being at the manger the night when Jesus was born? Mary and Joseph would be there, watching their newborn son all wrapped up, so tiny and so amazing. They knew that night in the stable that the Almighty God himself had come to earth as a helpless human baby. God had sent his Son to the world to save all people.
There were other small creatures there at the manger, too, besides humans. What other little and humble animals do you suppose saw the baby Jesus? (Let children name some of the animals; lambs and birds, etc.) Do you suppose there were any very tiny creatures that looked something like this? (Show toy ant.) There are ants all over the world, aren’t there? I’m sure there were some ants near the stable. And real ants aren’t usually big like this toy ant; they are extremely tiny. Real ants are this small. (Show jar of ants.)
Let’s say that you really loved ants. Let’s say that there was an ant colony near your house. You were careful not to step on those ants, and you would even leave food out for them. Let’s say that you loved each individual ant and wished that they could know that you loved them.
How in the world could you talk to an ant? (Let children offer their ideas.) Even if you got down on your belly and tried to look a teeny ant in the eye, you couldn’t make the ant understand. The only way that you’re going to get through to those ants is to become an ant yourself. Can you imagine being an ant? Especially a very tiny one? It would be a dangerous experiment. You could get squashed. Maybe you would go through all that trouble to become an ant and they wouldn’t even listen to you. The ants that you love might drive you away. You might try to warn them about a flood or a fire that was coming and explain to them that you became an ant so that you could save them. Some might listen to you and others might not. But becoming an ant would be the only way to really communicate.
Well, what did God do? The Infinite Creator, the Almighty God, loved the people of the world so much, that he made himself as tiny as a baby, so that he could talk to us. And God told us through Jesus that he loves us more than anything. God came to earth as a little baby just to make sure that we know how much God loves us!
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to our earth to show us how much you love us.