mainestewards

October 3, 2012

A Children’s Sermon for Grown Ups

Filed under: Children and Families,Financial Commitment,Lectionary — by Lisa Meeder Turnbull @ 5:19 pm

“…From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’”

How does it feel, when you really sit with the power of these words?

From the beginning of creation…

God made them…

humans…

male and female, God made us

created in God’s image.

As beautiful and powerful as this may be, it kind of begs the question: What is God’s image? And how does being made in God’s image inform our way of being in the world? Our way of living as baptized stewards of God’s abundance?

Here’s how I’ve learned to think of myself as a created, God-infused being:

Take a strip of paper and make a loop. What do you have? It’s a circle, right. What does a circle represent? Oneness… wholeness…. inclusivity. A circle has no beginning, and no end. The woman who planned my wedding reception insisted on a visual theme of roundness in the food and the in the various displays. As a Native American, it was important to her that our celebration included symbols of continuity as we became one flesh, a new creation.

And yet, when it comes to being made in God’s image, I am not entirely satisfied with the circle. You see, a circle has an inside and an outside. I struggle with the proposition that God has an inside and outside, that there is a portion of creation that lies within God’s image and a portion that falls outside.

Try this instead:

Take the same strip and twist one end… now join the ends, making a loop just as you did with the circle. Now you have a Möbius strip.

Here’s the cool thing about the Möbius strip: It has no inside, and no outside. “If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed the entire length of the strip, on both sides of the paper, without ever crossing an edge.”[i]

It is no accident that I learned this illustration from Parker Palmer, the Quaker author and teacher, to represent the central idea that “there is that of Christ in every person.” By divine design we are created to allow the gifts of God, for the people of God, to work within us, flow through us, and find expression in our lives and works. It is by living the life represented by the Möbius strip—a life that does not distinguish between what lies within and what is seen from without—that we are able to love our neighbors as ourselves, and love ourselves as we would love our neighbors.

And so as many of our congregations begin this season of annual financial commitment, I invite you to get in touch with your inner ant.

Remember that an ant can lift 50 times its own body weight. Your inner ant is easily strong enough to carry a pledge card, even one infused with prayer and discernment.

Remember also that ants rarely do their heavy lifting alone. When you consider your financial commitment for the coming year, make a space for prayer and discernment. Seek the wisdom and support of your fellow disciples. Hold one another up and encourage one another in a spirit of grace as you prepare to respond.

Would you begin this journey by praying with me….

Abundant God, you made us in your image and breathed in us a spirit of generosity that is both gift and response. Move us, we pray, in this extraordinary time, to give as we have received—abundantly, generously, and joyfully—that our common ministry may ever bear witness to your unfailing grace. In the name of the Three in whom we are One, Amen


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