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The Eye of a Needle

Pentecost Proper 23

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Mark 10:17-31

Preparation: Bring a large backpack stuffed with things. Place a chair at the front where everyone can see it. You (or a volunteer) will attempt to crawl under the chair—first with and then without the backpack. You should be able to do it when you remove the pack. Also bring a large needle.

Today I brought a big backpack stuffed full of things that I own. (Show the children the backpack you’re wearing.) It’s very bulky. I’m going to pretend I’m on a hike and need to crawl under a fence. We’ll say this chair is the fence. Do you think I’ll be able to do it? Let’s try. (Attempt an unsuccessful crawl under the chair with the backpack on.) Looks like I’m not going to get under. How do you suppose I might be able to get under the chair? (Let children give suggestions.) Take off my backpack? You’re right, it is the only way. I just can’t take all this stuff with me. (Take pack off and crawl through the space.) Well, I made it that time. Thanks for helping.

The space under that chair is pretty small, but is it as small as the eye of a needle? (Show the needle and let the children answer.) The eye of a needle is a tiny space, isn’t it? Do you know what Jesus once said? He said that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus meant that it might be difficult for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom if he loved his riches too much. This does not mean it’s impossible for rich people to enter God’s kingdom, but they have to love God more than their riches.

The Gospel lesson for today tells about how a rich man ran up to Jesus and asked how to make it into heaven. This man was very nice, and he had tried hard to obey God’s commandments ever since he was a child. But Jesus could see into this man’s heart, and he knew there was a problem. The man loved his money and his things more than he loved God.

Jesus looked lovingly into that man’s eyes and told him what he needed to do. “You lack only one thing,” said Jesus, “Go and sell all you have, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21 nlt). The man could not do it. All of his riches were too important to him. He walked away from Jesus.

Jesus’ disciples were shocked when they heard what he told the rich man. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. And Jesus answered, “With people, it is impossible; but not with God. All things are possible with God” (Mark 10:26-27 author’s paraphrase). It’s easy to think about and love our things more often than we think about God. God can help us make him most important in our lives. We only need to let him.

Prayer:  God, help us to love you more than anything in this world.

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