for Sunday, February 16, 2014
6th Sunday after Epiphany
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
lectionary focus: Matthew 5:21-37
note: You may need to adjust the opening riddle to fit your local weather. In light of our recent Snowmageddon here in the southeast, my statement as printed here may be honestly true!
Today, I’ve got a riddle for you: It is snowing right now. (Wait for a reaction and respond accordingly…be ready in case someone blurts out ‘somewhere else!’) Yes, it is snowing. No, I’m not crazy, and I’m not lying. It is snowing. No, you don’t see any snow out the windows…but it is snowing right now. (or say Even without being able to see through the church windows, I know it is snowing right now.) How? Well, it is snowing right now…somewhere in the world. Oooohhh, now you see that my statement is true…you just assumed that I meant here…which I did not say. So my statement It is snowing right now is true but when I clarify that it is snowing right now somewhere in the world, my statement becomes honest. This is a riddle game that we sometimes play in Youth Group to test our listening and thinking skills.
I thought about this game when I was reading our Bible story for today. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus is preaching and reminds us of the Commandment to be Truthful. But as we just heard, we can be truthful without being honest.
And then I thought about a story* I once heard of a little monster named Florence whose parents said they did not want to see her making faces at her sister. So Florence made sure that her parents were not around when she made faces at her sister. Then her parents never saw her make faces, but Florence was not acting honestly.
Jesus preaches about the importance of honesty and truthfulness because He understands that it is easy to be tricky. Jesus makes His thoughts on this clear in our Bible story by saying, “When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.” (The Message) Jesus is telling us that being truthful and honest is not just what we say, being truthful and honest is also what we do. The word to describe this is INTEGRITY. Everyone say INTEGRITY. To have integrity means that your whole self is honest. You speak truthfully and you act truthfully. And not just some of the times, but you are wholly truthful even when no one else is looking.
Riddles are fun, but we should make sure that people know when we are playing. Then when we are not playing, people will know and trust that our words and our actions are honest and truthful. We will be people of integrity. We will be Children of God in our words and our actions.
Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)
to speak and act
that I will have
*Based on the two (fabulous) books by Florence Parry Heide: Tales for the Perfect Child (1985) and Fables You Shouldn’t Pay Any Attention To (1978).
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