St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-24-2018

St. Matthew’s Sermon 06-24-2018

Children’s Day

1 Samuel 17, Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32, 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Luke 18:15-25

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen

On such a very special day, when we honor our children here at St. Matthew’s, I feel compelled to deliver an extra special sermon. And an extra special sermon, I am told, should be extra long!

Relax, you should know by now that I do try to deliver a meaningful sermon appropriate to the occasion, But I have never been known as a long-winded preacher and I’m not about to start today, so relax!

Anyway, as I said I changed our Gospel reading just for this occasion and I think it should be obvious why I did. That little part at the very beginning that reads “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” is a commonly heard quote of Jesus’ and, I hope warms your heart as much as it does mine.

Just to think that Jesus has a special place in his heart for children is so assuring, so uplifting, even for grownups. Yet, as often as we hear the words and feel that love, we seldom take time to think about why Jesus feels that way about little children or exactly what he means when he says “…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” So, let’s look at that today.

Think about this; when a baby is born it has very simple needs and only desires to have his or her needs fulfilled. Basically, if the baby is fed, kept warm and clean, and feels contact with other living beings it is a happy baby; there just isn’t much more needed.

As the baby grows, within a few days in fact, he or she will begin to recognize the special people in their life and begin to react to their presence. They make eye contact, and they soon begin to joyfully grin and giggle at their special people.

Add a few more weeks or maybe a month and they begin to reach for their special people to be picked up and cuddled. You may have noticed that babies don’t like to be alone.

As the baby continues to grow they learn to walk and talk and, even though they can begin to take care of their self with things like eating and cleaning up, they still need to rely on their special people to provide the things they cannot acquire on their own, yet they’re content for it to be that way as long as the basics are provided.

But then, somewhere in the process of growing up, they begin to turn their eyes toward things beyond their basic needs and start desiring more than their special people can provide. They might become more demanding, and resent not being able to have all their heart’s desires. Soon, they’ll turn away from the special people of their life believing that they can have it all, and have it all to themselves. They have become adults.

This is why I included the part in our reading about the ruler who, after Jesus blessed the little children, asked “What must I do to inherit eternal life”? You see, he was a child of God; he was familiar with the scripture and the commandments “…from his youth”, but in his adulthood he went on to be concerned with acquiring wealth; as we read, “…for he was a very rich man.”

So what is Jesus telling us when he speaks of little children saying “…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”

Just as our parents gave us life, through his wonderful creation, God is a part of giving us life. And just as our parents want to take care of us when we can’t care for ourselves, so God wants to take care of us!

And, just like a baby is happy with its basic needs being satisfied, being fed, kept warm and clean, and feeling contact with others, so should we be satisfied with, and happy for, God’s loving care for us.

And, just like the interaction between a baby and its parents, God also feels happy when we recognize him as our special person and joyfully react to his presence.

And God wants us to reach out to him when we are in need of comfort and is happy to pick us up and cuddle us just like our parents do.

 And, about the rich man who is also a part of this story: Jesus’ final words to him make it clear that all the possessions we have are worthless in God’s Kingdom; God loves us all the more if, like a child, we are happy, content, and appreciative when our basic needs are fulfilled.

Be happy in God’s loving care!





1 Samuel 17

17:32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
17:33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
17:34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock,
17:35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it.
17:36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.”
17:37 David said, “The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you!”
17:38 Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail.
17:39 David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them.
17:40 Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.
17:41 The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him.
17:42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.
17:43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
17:44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”
17:45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
17:46 This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,
17:47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”
17:48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.
17:49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.


Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32
107:1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble
107:3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
107:23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters;
107:24 they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep.
107:25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
107:26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity;
107:27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end.
107:28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress;
107:29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
107:30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
107:31 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.
107:32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

2 Corinthians 6:1-13
6:1 As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.
6:2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!
6:3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,
6:4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
6:5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;
6:6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love,
6:7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
6:8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;
6:9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see–we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed;
6:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
6:11 We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you.
6:12 There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours.
6:13 In return–I speak as to children–open wide your hearts also.


In honor of our young members I have elected to change our Gospel reading from the assigned lectionary reading so I read from the Gospel of…

Luke 18:15-25

15 People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it.

16 But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.

17 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”

18 A certain ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.

20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.’ ”

21 He replied, “I have kept all these since my youth.”

22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

23 But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich.

24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!

25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”