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September 2012

Faithful Acts

Pentecost Proper 18

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: James 2:14-17 

Have any of you ever gone to school and forgotten your lunch? (Children may respond.) 

I know I have. It’s a terrible feeling. Lunchtime comes and your stomach growls. Then you have nothing to eat and no money to buy a lunch.

Now imagine that your friends come and sit down next to you and notice you have no lunch. Imagine that they shake their heads and say, “Well, I sure hope you find something to eat before the bell rings!” Does that help you very much? (Let children answer.) It’s nice that they’ve noticed you and it sounds like they care about you, but if they don’t share any food with you, are they really helping you?

Sometimes we hear about or see pictures of people who need our help. We may hear about local food pantries needing donations of food for hungry families. Our hearts may feel bad for those hungry families, and we want them to know how much we care. But if we don’t try to help by donating food or money, then we don’t give our hands a chance to follow what our hearts are telling us.

We also may hear about people who don’t know Jesus. And our hearts may feel sad because those people can’t tell how good it feels to know that God loves them. But if we don’t tell them about God or invite them to church, they may never hear that Good News.

The Bible says in James, chapter 2, “Suppose you see a brother or sister [in Christ] who needs food or clothing, and you say, ‘Well, goodbye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all—it is dead and useless” (vv. 15-17 NLT).

It does matter that we feel love toward others and that we care about them. It’s a very good and important thing to pray for others and to ask God that things get better for them. But if we don’t also give some of our time and money and actions, then our faith may start to shrivel up and die. What do you think would make a person’s hungry tummy stop growling—to tell them we hope they will soon get a wonderful feast or to hand them a healthy sandwich? (Children can answer.) What do you think would warm up a shivering person—to say, “I hope the weather gets warmer for you!” or to give them a jacket to wear? (Discuss.) What you do makes a big difference. You act your faith out in the things you do and say.

(Here you may wish to talk about a special offering or a community service that members, including children, can participate in. This also may be a time to recognize teachers who are giving their time and talents to help with Sunday school in the coming year.)

Prayer:  Dear God, may we actually do those things that we know we should do. Give us the strength and courage to do your will and show our love to one another.

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