This Sunday was Thanksgiving Sunday AND World Communion. The church calendar is intersecting in a fabulous way with the secular calendar this year. If you're church geeky such as me, it might interest you that the following dates/days have been or will be connected:
- Christmas Eve 2017 - was a Sunday (we had our usual Sunday morning service and then two evening Christmas Eve services)
- Ash Wednesday - was Valentines Day in 2018
- Easter Sunday - was April 1st. I was tempted to set up a tomb-like structure and have a Jesus character jump out and yell 'April Fools!!' at the start of the service. But I didn't. Cause I'm a grown up.
- Pentecost Sunday - was Victoria Day long weekend. So many people leave town that weekend to get their first weekend of camping in. Various combinations of the staff also try to take that weekend off. Not in 2018. We. Were. All. Here.
- Canada Day was a Sunday.
- Thanksgiving Sunday was the same Sunday as World Communion. Giving thanks as we have communion with Christians around the world. Cool.
- Remembrance Day is a Sunday.
- Epiphany 2019 falls on a Sunday. Super cool. We'll have to food involved with that service. Have an actual Feast of Epiphany.
Anyway - none of this is what the message was about Sunday. I got myself a little distracted. Here's the somewhat organized chaos of what happened...
With some help, I told this story:
Does this story sound familiar to you? If you're churched at all, it should ring a few bells for you. It's the Mad Libs version of The Good Samaritan. I asked the youth and children to select verbs, nouns, occupations and such at the start of the service and then I told the story.A man was going down from Calgary to Okotoks, when he fell into the hands of two pediatric cardiovascular surgeons. They stripped him of all of his vast amount of money, stoned him, and scurried away, leaving him half comatose. An Avatar happened to be going down the same road, and when she saw the man, she shuffled by on the other side. So too, a Scooby Doo, when he came to the place and saw him, he skedaddled by on the other side. But a Muslim, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he felt sorry for him. He went to him and bandaged his elbow, pouring on water and milk. Then he put the man on his own cow, took him to an pyramid scheme business and took care of him. The next day he took out two purple pieces of monopoly money and gave them to the babysitter. “Look after him.” He said, “and when I return, I will pay you forany extra damages you may have.”
Dave read the scripture reading in French and some folks acted out the story. You remember it right? Some religious people ask Jesus what are the basic laws to follow in God's world. Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbour as you would yourself. At which point, the religious know-it-all tried to trick Jesus and asked, 'But, who is my neighbour?' And Jesus, being way clever, answered with parable rather than a straight-forward, easy to work around answer and told the story of the despised Samaritan being the hero of the injured man. The priest and the Levite were not the heroes. THAT Samaritan was very much the hero.
And then I asked some questions...
· What do you suppose the injured man thought when he saw the priest coming his way? (If you can’t rely on a religious leader to help you, who can you count on?)
· What about the Levite (lay leader respected in religious circles)? (Disappointed, an outcast, not worthy of being helped…)
· Why do you suppose neither of them stopped to help? (Ritual cleanliness, being late, maybe they were being tricked…)
· The injured man was a Jew and Jews HATED Samaritans – they treated them like second class citizens. How do you suppose the injured man felt when the Samaritan walking towards him? (Helpless, vulnerable, expecting to be taunted or harmed further?)
· What did you notice the Samaritan did in this story? He took IMMEDIATE action. He saw someone in need and got involved. He ignored prejudices. He saw a person in serious need and acted. His concern for the injured man was genuine and long-lasting. He made arrangements with the innkeeper to return later to check on the man’s condition and settle his bill.
· How do you think the injured man felt when he realized the full extent of how the Samaritan helped him? (THANKFUL) When you live with gratitude, you look at the world with a different outlook – you are more compassionate, forgiving, helpful, kind.
· What was Jesus trying to say when he made the Samaritan, a hated foreigner, the hero of the story? (Our neighbour can be ANYONE.)
Not very often do we come across such dramatic opportunities to help someone else. My son Simon and I saw a very bad accident last week. We got to be good Samaritans because help was very much needed but there are very few moments in life in which we witness such a dramatic event. I can think of two different ways of loving the world as you would love yourself even when there are no accidents or violent acts to respond to:
Gratitude - Thumbprint Prayer -- Each day look for at least one person, place, or moment that you’re thankful for or that fills you with feelings of thankfulness. When you are with that person, or are in that place, or have had that moment, leave your thumbprint somewhere close by. As you do, say—even under your breath—“Thank you, God!” See how many thumbprint thank yous you can leave in the world.
Helping - Acts of Kindness – write some action you could perform this week on a piece of paper and put it into the offering plate
The youth and the children then collected all the sticky notes with acts of kindness written on them and taped them to the cross. It was awesome.
And that is how our message time went on this Thanksgiving Sunday. You can watch the whole service here.