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Message from Our Pastor

Hoffman zoom green 2006

Excerpts from Pastor Cheryl Hoffman’s sermon for July 5, 2020. Relevant text: Matthew 11:16-30.

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.”

If you spend any time at all around young children, you know that in spite of their lack of experience and limited knowledge they sometimes speak words of profound wisdom.

Like the little boy who heard the song, “If you don’t mind, it won’t matter,” and responded, “Oh yes it does matter! If you don’t mind you’ll get in trouble!”
The children who spoke these one-liners were also wise beyond their years: 
“When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair.” 
“Never hold a dust-buster and a cat at the same time.” 
“The best place to be when you are sad is in Grandma's lap.”

Of course, children don’t always get it right – like the Catholic elementary school children who came up with these answers to their Bible quiz questions:

“Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree.” 
“Moses died before he ever reached Canada.” 
“Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the Battle of Geritol.” 
“When Mary heard she was the mother of Jesus she sang the Magna Carta.” 
“Jesus enunciated the golden rule, which says to do unto others before they do one to you.” 
Jesus also explained, “a man doth not live by sweat alone.” 
Sometimes it is not the answers, but the questions children ask that are priceless. 
Like Norma, who asked: “Dear God, did you mean for giraffes to look like that or was it an accident?”
And Billy, who wonders, “God how come you did all those miracles in the old days and don’t do any now?”
Or Jeff, who said, “Dear God, it is great the way you always get the stars in the right place. Why can’t you do that with the moon?”

One of the things that makes children so precious is that they are not afraid to speak their mind – not even to God. 

Janet writes, “Dear Mr. God, I wish you would not make it so easy for people to come apart. I had to have 3 stitches and a shot.” 
Nancy wants to cut God some slack noting, “God, I bet it’s very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only six people in our family, and I can never do it.”
And Thomas, who isn’t afraid to admit that he might have been wrong when he declares, “Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday night. That was really cool.”

But sometimes, children not only get it right, they do the right thing and put us adults to shame. A mother had taken her children out for dinne. Her six-year-old son asked if he could say grace. As they bowed their heads he said, "God is good, God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more, if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And Liberty and justice for all! Amen!"

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, the mother heard one woman remark, "That's what's wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I never!"

Hearing this, the little boy burst into tears and asked, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" 

As his mother held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job, and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table, winked at the boy and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer." 

"Really?" the boy asked. 

"Cross my heart," the man replied. Then, indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing, he added in a theatrical whisper, "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."

Naturally, the mother bought her kids ice cream at the end of the meal. Her six-year old son stared at his for a moment and then picked up his sundae and without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman who had criticized his prayer. 

With a big smile he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already."

“Thank you Father, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; for such is your gracious will.”

What is it that happens to us between the age of six and sixty-six that turns us from sincere, honest, and bold believers in God and good into white-haired curmudgeons who have given up on God and good, in part because everything is not just so?

How many fewer white hairs we might have, if we dared voice our wants, and be honest about our needs, to the God in whom we once believed that if he can’t answer our prayers, no one can? 

And how much healthier might we be if we didn’t spend so much time worrying about how much we had to help ourselves before we could ask God to help us? Is what we gain in our experiences of life really better than the innocent, dependent hope that we lose as we become adults?

Jesus didn’t think so. 

It’s OK if we don’t know it all. It’s OK if we don’t always get it right. It’s even OK if we ask God for ice cream. 

It’s not perfection that God seeks. It’s not the wisdom that God desires. It’s the honest openness of hearts and minds, to which God dares to reveal himself knowing that only hearts and minds free of preconceived ideas and of predetermined plans can grasp the truth of his identity and therein find rest.

“Come all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens.” Come not as wise and learned persons with resumes as long as your arm. Come as infants, as children, who need a grandmother’s lap, a God’s forgiveness, and an occasional bowl of ice cream. 

"I, Jesus, am gentle, and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Amen.

 

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