…We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind… – The United Methodist Church, “Social Creed,” accessed October 5, 2016 

cannon_ball_nd
Photo credit Wikipedia Cannonball River,

 

Materials Visuals Needed

  • A Gym Bag with running things like: running shoes; water bottle or camel back; hat or headband; sunglasses; and gym shorts
  • A Map showing the route from Standing Rock to Washington DCstanding-rock-to-dc
  • A Story Book Bible with “Water Stories” bookmarked.

Main Ideas (Taken from “What Every Child Should Experience” and “UMC Social Principles: The Natural World.” ) 

  • All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation.
  • I am a child of God, who loves me
  • The Bible is a special book
  • God cares for all of creation
  • God wants me to care for creation.
  • I like caring for nature.
  • I can participate in activities that show care and appreciation for others and creation
  • The Bible helps me to know how God wants me to live
  • I can participate in servant ministry in the community and continue to understand how my actions impact those around me
  • • I begin to identify and express attitudes, ideas, and feelings about social injustice

The Message:

Does anyone here like to run or know someone who likes to run?

[answers]

If you are going to go for a run, what are some things that you need to have with you?

[Shoes, water bottle, clothes to run in, maybe a hat or sun glasses, or a headband.]

Of all of these supplies which one does our body need the most?

[answers]

WATER, right, if we need to we can run barefoot, if we need to we can run with regular clothes on, or without sunglasses, or without a hat.

But we can’t even LIVE much less run if we don’t have healthy water.

The Dakota language, spoken by Native American people in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota has a saying that is really important to them, “Mni Wiconi,” water is life.

And we know that is true about our physical bodies, but it’s true about the earth and it’s true about our spiritual bodies too.  Can anyone think about a story in the Bible about water?

[Open the story Bible to show kids the pictures as they name a story, some stories you may want to have pre-marked]

  • Genesis 1- separating the waters
  • Noah
  • All the stories at wells
  • Jonah
  • Jesus’ baptism
  • Water into wine
  • Jesus calming the storm
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Nile into blood
  • Streams of living water
  • Blood and water flowing out of Jesus.

Last week, we talked about how we are children of God, and made in the image of God, and given work to do by God to show God’s love to the world.  We talked about the list of ways that we can show God’s love to the world that our church leaders have come up with, we call them the “Social Principles.”

The first thing on the list is the Natural World.  We show God’s love by how we take care of the natural world, and part of that is water.

Remember when you first came up here and we talked about running?  I have a story about some kids and youth and young adults who went for a very long run in order to show love for the natural world.

[Map]

A group of young people who live in a place called Standing Rock Reservation found out that there was a problem coming to their community.  They learned that an oil company wanted to build a pipeline near where they lived and that this pipeline would cross the river where they get all of their water.

These young people knew that they had a job to do.  They knew that they had to ask for help.  They knew that Water is Life, Mni Wiconi.  So they wrote letters to people in the government in Washington DC.  They wrote and asked for help in keeping their water clean, because they knew that if there was a hole or a leak in the pipeline, their water would be ruined, and water is life.

These kids knew too, that people in the Government get lots of letters from lots of different people every day, so they knew that they had to do something more than just writing and mailing the letters with a stamp.  So guess what they did?! They put on their running shoes, and as a group of kids, and youth and young adults they ran. They ran and they ran and they ran.

They ran 2,000 miles.  All the way from North Dakota to Washington DC.

Sometimes accidentally, and sometimes on purpose, adults in the church can make it feel like you have to be big to show God’s love to the world.  And as an adult in the church I want to say that I’m sorry and that’s not true.  The kids from Standing Rock ran to Washington DC and they showed adults that it’s important for us to take care of God’s creation, because water is life.

One of the Bishops, or leaders, in our church (In Minnesota and the Dakotas, “our Bishop,”) Bishop Bruce Ough, went to visit people who were praying and protesting and hoping to help keep the water around Standing Rock clean.  He wrote a letter to our church and said, “All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect….” In other words, God has made the natural world, and God has made us to show his love to the world.  So we get to take care of the natural world with love, care and respect.

Because we are loved by God, because we are made in God’s image, because we are growing to become more and more like God, we can take care of the natural world, not just the water but the animals, plants, soil, air, the whole natural world.  And the good news is, if we take care of the natural world, we will have a natural world left to take care of us.

Using in Worship:

  • This would be a great children’s message to use on a Baptism Sunday to connect the sacrament of baptism to God’s work in water throughout history and the promises made at our baptism.
  • This would also be a good message to use in worship the weekend of a big race in your community.  For example in my previous context, the second weekend in October in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, children are aware of the Twin Cities Marathon (the route blocks traffic to church for many on Sunday morning).

  • If you missed the overview about this series you can check it out here:
  • Yesterday I shared the introductory message.
  • If you want to learn more about the social principles around “The Natural World,” you can check out this page from Discipleship Ministries.
  • Bishop Ough’s Full Letter in support of the No DAPL protestors is available here.
  • For the letters the Standing Rock Youth delivered to DC and pictures of the kids go to RezpectOurWater.