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Our Laser Beam Lives

Children's sermon
Object: 
some sort of silly-looking glasses, like 3-D (optional)

First Thoughts: In this passage Jesus creates a new standard, a new ethic, for us to live by. It's not enough for us simply to do no physical harm in the world; we must also do no verbal or spiritual harm either. This means that not only must we refrain from doing physical violence; we must refrain from even thinking harmful thoughts or speaking harmful words. This is because the energy we put into our harmful thoughts changes our own lives and the lives of others. We are weighed down, crippled, and actually harmed by thoughts of fear and anger. Our suffering creates a spiritual field around us and contributes to the suffering of everyone we meet -- particularly those to whom our anxiety is directed. We are called to be diligent in our self-reflection, to really examine our innermost thoughts and feelings, and to bring them to God for healing. We do this not only to improve our own spiritual health but as an act of peace to the whole world. Spend a few moments reflecting on your own emotional and spiritual state right now. Do you notice fear or anxiety around a particular relationship or experience? Do you feel angry or resentful around a certain memory? The first part is to just notice the wound is there. Next, bring it to God. If you need help in healing, ask a friend to support you in your prayer. Above all, treat your need for healing as a top priority. Know that even in your intention for healing you are increasing an experience of peace for yourself and for the world.

Teaching On Your Own: (puts on silly glasses) Hey everybody, aren't these cool looking glasses? These are my laser beam glasses. Do you know what laser beams are? They are so cool. Even though you can't see them they can still do amazing things -- like cut through metal. Do you think my glasses could do that? No! (takes them off) These are just pretend laser beam glasses. Real ones would be too dangerous. But you know what? Each of us sort of does have built-in laser beams.

We all know that the Bible says we're not supposed to hurt someone, right? Well, Jesus tells us in the scripture passage today that not only are we not supposed to hurt people; we're not even supposed to say mean things or think mean thoughts about people. Why do you think it matters what we think or say about people if we keep it to ourselves? Those words and thoughts are like the laser beams in my glasses. Laser beams might be invisible but they can still do some major damage. It is like cutting through metal or cutting through someone's heart. Jesus wanted us to realize that we're all connected to each other in our hearts. So even though we don't hit someone with our hands, we can still hurt them with our thoughts and words. This means we can be just as dangerous as laser beams. Thankfully, God can teach us how to use our thoughts and words to help people instead of hurt them. It's important for us to realize that unlike these silly glasses, we really can't take our laser beams off. All we can do is learn how to use them in a good way. It's a big responsibility, isn't it? I'm glad we have people around -- like the church -- who can help us! How about you?

Teaching As A Team:
(Leader 2 has on the silly glasses)
Leader 1: Hey (name). Those are strange looking glasses.
Leader 2: These are my laser beam glasses. Laser beams are so cool. Even though you can't see them they can still do amazing things -- like cut through metal.
Leader 1: Can your glasses do that?
Leader 2: No. (takes them off) These are just pretend laser beam glasses. Real ones would be too dangerous.
Leader 1: I think you're probably right. But you know what? Each of us sort of does have built-in laser beams.
Leader 2: What do you mean?
Leader 1: We all know that the Bible says we're not supposed to hurt someone, right?
Leader 2: Yeah.
Leader 1: Well, Jesus tells in the scripture passage today that not only are we not supposed to hurt people; we're not even supposed to say mean things or think mean thoughts about people.
Leader 2: But why does it matter what we say or think if we keep it to ourselves?
Leader 1: Because those words and thoughts are like the laser beams. Laser beams might be invisible but they can still do some major damage.
Leader 2: Like cutting through metal?
Leader 1: Or cutting through someone's heart. Jesus wanted us to realize that we're all connected to each other in our hearts. So even though we don't hit someone with our hands, we can still hurt them with our thoughts and words.
Leader 2: I guess we really can be dangerous, just like laser beams.
Leader 1: Thankfully, God can teach us how to use our thoughts and words to help people instead of hurt them. It's important for us to realize that unlike your glasses, we really can't take our laser beams off. All we can do is learn how to use them in a good way.
Leader 2: That's a big responsibility. I'm glad I have people around -- like the church -- who can help me!
Leader 1: Me too.

Closing Prayer: God, thank you for helping us to use our laser beam lives to heal rather than hurt. Thank you for this church where we can help each other grow with loving thoughts and kind words. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: To reinforce this message in a home or classroom environment, talk a bit more about negative words or thoughts. Ask the children to provide examples of when they've said mean things about someone else. (Make sure you ask them not to use any names!) Then ask them to talk about times when they've been really angry at somebody and -- even if they didn't say anything -- in their minds they were thinking mean thoughts. We probably think that this is better than actually hitting someone, but Jesus says it's really the same thing. We are just as hurtful when we think angry thoughts or say angry words as when we actually hit someone.

To illustrate this point, try playing a game with the children. Have them sit in a circle and one by one invite each child to share a mean thought and a kind thought. When they say the mean thought, lob a beanbag at them (gently, of course). When they share the kind thought, blow bubbles over them. Give every child as many opportunities as they want. Point out that when the negative thing was said, it resulted in a blow, which is something that affects us and the people around us. When the kind thing was said, it results in a blessing, like a delightful showering of bubbles.

For a craft idea, give each child a sheet of white paper and invite them to write kind words and thoughts on it. Then mix more bubble solution with food coloring. (You can do several jars with different colors, if you want.) When the children have finished writing their words, blow the colored bubbles allowing them to catch the bubbles on their paper. When the bubbles pop they will create beautiful patterns on the paper. Remind the children that our kind words and thoughts make the world a more beautiful place. Close with a prayer.

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