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Overflowing Love

For the 21st Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 27

(Lectionary 32) From “Saving the Ants”

1 Thess. 3:12  “May the Lord make your love grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love overflows toward you.” (NLT)

Preparation: Bring a small pot with a healthy flowering plant growing in it.

I brought a little plant with me this morning. It’s a very nice-looking plant with green leaves and flowers. It has its own pot with lots of rich soil. How do you think I keep this plant healthy and growing? What do I need to do for my plant? (Discuss with children; talk about water, sunshine, good soil, and so forth.) I try to remember to give my plant the water and sunshine that it needs to grow.

Let’s say I set my potted plant outside on a patch of bare dirt and then planted some seeds in the dirt around my pot, but only watered my plant and not the dirt around it. Would the seeds grow? (Discuss with children.)

What would happen if when I watered my own plant, I gave it so much water that lots of it spilled onto the dirt around it? Would those seeds in the dirt start to sprout? If they kept getting the extra water from the overflow, they would become healthy plants, too! My little plant wouldn’t need all that extra water, and I’m sure that it wouldn’t mind sharing.

One of Jesus’ followers, Paul, traveled around the countryside encouraging new congregations that had just started after Jesus rose from the dead. He preached and wrote letters to them. In one of his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “May the Lord make your love grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else, just as our love overflows toward you” (1 Thess. 3:12 NLT).

Why do you think Paul wanted their love to overflow? Wouldn’t it be better if they had just enough love for themselves, like having just enough water for my one little plant? (Talk it over with children.) God doesn’t want us to keep the love that he gives us to ourselves. He gives us so much love that it fills us up and overflows to others.

That love is like water; it brings life to people. And if someone has heard a little bit about Jesus and God’s love, it’s like a seed that has been planted in the dry soil. Then, when that seed is watered by love overflowing from God’s people, like members of this congregation, the seed may sprout and that person may accept Jesus into their heart. Let’s pray that all of us will let God’s love overflow to others.

Prayer: Thank you for watering our thirsty souls with your love, dear Lord. We pray that we let your wonderful love overflow to bless all those around us.

 

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