For the Sunday after the Fourth of July
(from Barefoot in the Snow)
Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud
Preparation: Make a firecracker prop out of some of string and a cardboard tube. The entire tube, including the ends should be covered with colorful paper. A 20-foot piece of string should be inside the tube with a short end of the string sticking out the top.
We recently enjoyed a holiday that is often celebrated with fireworks, flags of red, white and blue, and firecrackers. Can anyone tell me what that holiday is? (Let children respond.) Yes! The 4th of July is the day that we celebrate our country’s independence.
Today, I brought along a pretend firecracker. If you were a firecracker and someone lit your fuse, what would happen when the fuse had burned all the way down? (Children can answer.) You would go “Bang!” Let’s try it. We’ll all pretend to be firecrackers. (You can act out a fuse disappearing and then yell “bang” a few times with the children.)
You all make great firecrackers! But, you know a firecracker is sort of like an angry person. When we say that someone has a “short fuse” it means they get angry easily and can blow up with angry words. Can an angry person be loud or dangerous, just like a firecracker? Yes, they can hurt others if they haven’t learned to control themselves. We all get angry sometimes. If a brother or sister grabs a toy that we’re playing with, we might yell or hit them. Sometimes when we get mad, it feels like a firecracker going off; we just want to explode. Do you think it’s a good thing to get angry so quickly? Is it good to have a short fuse? (Children may respond.)
Do you think God has a short fuse? No, our God is very patient. In the Bible, it says that love is patient and kind. God is love and he is very patient. And this is what Nehemiah 9:17 says, “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and full of unfailing love and mercy” (nlt). God is slow to anger. God has a very long fuse.
I’d like to use this pretend firecracker to demonstrate God’s patience. Could I have a volunteer pull out the fuse and see how long it is? (Have child pull fuse from top of firecracker. Let him or her walk about 20 feet until the string is all out of the firecracker. Then call the child back.)
God is very patient with us, and he wants us to be like him: loving and patient and slow to anger. The next time you feel yourself getting angry, remember God’s long fuse. Remember to be patient and loving and don’t explode.
Thank you, God, for your patience. Help us to have a long fuse and to be patient like you.
Key Words: Patience, Temper, Long-suffering, Tantrum