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Dirt and Dross

Second Sunday of Advent

From “Scolding the Snakes”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Mal. 3:2-3 and Phil. 1:6-11

Preparation: Cover a piece of smooth jewelry (a gold or silver heart would be perfect) with mud or clay so that it is hidden inside the lump. Also bring a towel and bowl of water for cleaning the jewelry.

How many candles are lit on the Advent wreath now? (Let kids count.) Two candles! It’s the second Sunday in Advent. This is a time of getting ready, isn’t it? We remember that Jesus first came to Earth as a little baby born in Bethlehem about two thousand years ago. That was the first time Jesus came to Earth. Will Jesus come again? (Children may respond.) Yes, he will come again. We want to be ready for Christmas, but we also need to be ready for when Jesus returns.

At Christmastime we clean our homes and decorate them to get ready for guests or to have holiday parties. We also want to get our hearts and our lives ready to welcome Jesus. But if it were just up to us to make ourselves ready for Jesus, we could never do it, could we? We can’t wash away our own sins. And we can’t get rid of the bad thoughts in our heads. We can’t do it by ourselves. We need to let Jesus wash away our sins and get rid of the bad things in our lives.

I have something with me that really needs some cleaning. (Show your mud-caked treasure.) I know that there is a beautiful treasure inside, but first I need to wash away all this dirt so that everyone can see it. We are like this lump of dirt with a treasure inside. God has created each one of us to be a special, talented person. But the bad things we do and the mean things we say sometimes cover up the beauty. We need to allow Jesus to wash us. If we ask Jesus to forgive us and to clean away all the sin from our lives, he will start working on us. (Begin to clean your treasure in bowl.)

The Old Testament book of Malachi says that Jesus’ second coming will be like a refiner’s fire. It says that Jesus will burn away all the dross, or sin and bad things, in our lives until the pure silver—the good part of us—shines through.

If you are a metalworker and you want to get a lump of pure silver, you need to get rid of everything in that chunk of metal that is not silver. A refiner’s fire is very very hot, and it will remove everything that is not pure silver. Now Jesus doesn’t really use fire to get rid of the bad things in our lives, but he does promise to help us change and become good followers—if we ask him to and then let him lead us. (Show polished treasure to children.)

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus. Wash away our sins and uncover your treasures. Help us get ready for you to come. Amen

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