The Social community is the next section of the United Methodist Social Principles. This section includes the rights of racial and ethnic groups, religious minorities, children, young people, the aging, women, men, immigrants, people with disabilities, and sexual orientation. This section also include principles about population, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, medical experiments, genetic technology, rural life, sustainable agriculture, urban-suburban life, media violence, IT, HIV and Aids, health care, organ transplantation and mental health. SERIOUSLY?! This list is so long and encompass so much. I struggled to write this message because – where do we start? So today’s message centers on the idea of feeling like an outsider, and working to include people. Maybe later I’ll address some of these issues in more depth, but in the mean time here’s a quick lesson/message.
You can read the introduction to the series here:
You can read the first introductory children’s message here:
You can read about our call to care for the natural world here:
You can read about our call to care for families and the nurturing community here:
The Social Community
Today is the day
God embraces all hues of humanity,
delights in diversity and difference,
favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends.
We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection.
In the discussion about feelings you could have “how are you feeling today” faces, or pictures/toys of characters from the movie Inside Out.
The Shel Silverstein poem can either be performed live and dramatized, or it could be cued on a video to be shown, or you could read from a book. I think that it would be appropriate to change the gender of the old man or the little boy depending on who is available to read.
Main Ideas (From “What Every Child Should Experience.”)
- My family celebrates me just as I am
- My family demonstrates God’s love through their actions.
- Worshiping with the congregation … helps me feel like I belong.
- Church is a safe and loving place
- My family and I do good for others
- I can participate in activities that show care and appreciation for others and creation.
- My family helps me to consider and recognize the rights of others and understand what that means in the way we live as a family.
We’ve been looking at this list of how to love the world that our church has, called “Our Social Principles.” We talked earlier about how we are made in the image of God, which means that all of us, have a job to do, which is to show the world what God is like. And God is love, so we show the world that God is love. We’ve talked about how part of our job as a church is to take care of the natural world, and another part of our job is to make sure that everyone has some kind of community and family to be a part of.
Another part of our job is to look out for who is being treated differently because they are different somehow.
I have a question:
Have you ever felt different from everybody else?
I brought some friends with me today that are one way to think about feelings, disgust, anger, fear, sadness and joy. When you felt left out, what did that feel like?
Some people feel afraid when they feel different, some feel sad, some feel disgust, some feel angry. You probably feel more than one of those feelings at the same time when you feel left out right?
I think that just about everybody has felt left out at some point. Maybe they feel different because they’re a kid and everyone else is a grown up. Or they’re a girl and everyone else is a boy. Or their family speaks one language at home and everyone else’s family feels speaks a different language at home. Or their skin is a different color, or they have a body that needs a wheel chair to get around and everyone else uses their feet.
One of my favorite poems is called, “The Little Boy and the Old Man,” by Shel Silverstein and it’s in this book, called A Light In The Attic
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the little old man.
Jesus was someone who looked out for people who were feeling left out. Zacchaeus was too short and had a job that nobody liked, Jesus went and had lunch at his house. There was a woman who no one liked from another culture, Jesus asked her for a drink of water and talked to her. There were people with diseases that no one liked because they were afraid of being around people with diseases. Jesus touched them and loved them. There were kids who people didn’t think were important enough to talk to Jesus just because they were kids. Jesus welcomed them and talked to them and told people that they need to be more like kids and not let anything get in the way of kids coming to him. Jesus loves people who feel like they are on the outside or who feel like they are left out.
One of the ways that we become more like God is to look out for the people who are on the outside, or who are being left out and love them. One of the ways that we show God’s love to the world is to look out for those people who are feeling left out and welcome them in.
There’s a letter in the Bible called, Romans, and it’s a letter about how we can love God and people better, and one of the things that this letter says is, “Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord!” (Romans 12:10-11 CEB)
Because God loves us when we feel left out, our job as Christians is to love other people when they feel left out, and to work for a world where no one gets left out.
Using in Worship
You could certainly use this children’s message on Human Relations Sunday (MLK Jr. weekend) but I think that it is so core to the Christian message that we could include it anytime in the year. Maybe when the sermon is about Zacchaeus, The Woman at the Well, One of Jesus’ healings or any other story that has to do with Jesus included the lost and the least? It would fit well within a Children’s Defense Fund Children’s Sabbath, or a Children’s Sunday.