I will freely admit that I didn't really know what I was doing. I thought I was planning the children's message. This is something I do every week, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes we crash and burn. Sometimes the light shines.
There are a lot of opportunities for failure in a children's message. I can tell you stories about times when the whole enterprise got away from me, when I thought I was going to have a heart-warming conversation, and instead 20 children at once wanted to share with me embarrassing details of their morning. Or, there was the time when, for some reason, in the middle of a children's message, one child solemnly raised his hand, and asked the question, "Is there a mean God too?"
I had gotten some on line inspiration to connect with the first chapter of the gospel of John: the spot where John the Baptist points to Jesus and declares him to be the Lamb of God. We were going to have Show and Tell, just like we used to do when I was in grade school. I emailed a few parents, to see whether their children could share something for a brief time of "show and tell."
But something happened at the children's sermon time. Two of our youth and one younger child had something to share this morning. A young confirmation student stood up and shared a lap blanket, a gift from a beloved aunt that meant a lot to her. A high school student shared a remote control plane, which he had "take off" from the floor and fly around the sanctuary for a moment. And a little girl shared a box her father had bought her from one of his trips overseas, a small, beloved box where she stored treasures.
And I shared about John the Baptist, the one who showed the disciples who Jesus was, and then told them about him too.
So, that was the gospel message.
But, just like the Holy Scriptures, which I like to say have a "surplus of meaning", so also this children's message carried a surplus of meaning, not intended by me.
All of these young people showed something that was important to them, and told us about it. They trusted us enough to show us a little bit of their lives, and they trusted us to appreciate this gift.
Show and Tell.
As it turns out, this is not just the building block of evangelism, how we show and tell others about Jesus in our lives.
It is also the building block of Christian community. The children taught us how to do it, to show each other and tell each other who we are, so that we can pray for one another, be the body of Christ for one another.
Sitting on the floor and listening to the children share, for a moment I thought I was standing on holy ground, and this is what it looked like: the comfort of a warm blanket, the surprise of a plane lifting up, and the joy of a hidden treasure box.