Me: Kids, what questions do you have about today’s sermon?
Kid2: What was the R word he kept saying?
Me: Was it “racism” or “reconciliation?” You know what–let me tell you about both. Do you know what “race” is?
Kid3: When you run fast?
Me: Well, you’re not wrong. There is another meaning. Kid 1? What do you think?
Kid1: When you drive fast?
Me: OK, also not wrong. There is another meaning. It is kind of related to what country or part of the world people’s ancestors are from. Our parents, parents, parents, etc., mostly came from England or Germany. This means we are usually called white or Caucasian. Other people may have ancestors from other parts of the world. That is their “nationality.” It can also be their “ethnicity.” “Race” is based on color of skin and ancestry. People are sometimes called “white” or “black” or “Hispanic” based on what part of the world their ancestors came from and the color of their skin. We have some friends who have parents from different races. Oddly, those kids will probably grow up being called black even though only one of their parents is. Isn’t that silly?
So now that you know a little of what race is, “racism” is when you think that someone of a different race is “less than” you because they are of a different race. It is also when you don’t treat someone fairly because they have a different race. Wouldn’t that be horrible?
Me: Our minds do a strange thing. We might want to treat someone worse because they are different from us in some way. But, what are the two greatest commandments?
Kid1: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength!
Me: and the second one is like it…
Kid1: Love your neighbor as yourself!
Me: Who is our neighbor? [silence] Someone asked Jesus this question when he gave those commandments. What was his answer? [silence] He answered with a story…
Kid1: The Good Samaritan!
Me: Yes! It is a story of a Jew who was badly hurt and a Samaritan who helped him. The Samaritan did not look the same, did not believe the same, and probably did not talk the same as the Jew, but who was the neighbor?
Kids: the Samaritan
Me: Right. We think of the neighbor as the person who lives in the next house over, but the neighbor can be someone who does not look like, sound like, or believe like us. We are supposed to love them like we love us! Can we treat people of other races badly and love them like ourselves at the same time?
Kid3: [after some thought] No!
Me: Is there anyone in the world who isn’t in the image of God?
Me: Right, every single person is in God’s image. The letter of James reminds that our tongues might do a strange thing: we praise God, then insult or make fun of people made in the image of God. Does that make sense?
Kid3: Yes [what I said made sense], but that is weird.
Me: Yes it is. Now, let’s talk about the other R word, “reconciliation.” Kid1, can you hear the prefix?
Me: yes, what does that mean?
Me: you got it. Now let’s find the root word. council, like a group of people. To re-council (reconcile), we are bringing people together, again.
We also talked about another word: ministry. It means to serve. Like in the government of other countries, they talk about having a “ministry” in the government, rather than just a “department.” Ministry is a way to serve people.
So, what does it mean to have a “ministry of reconciliation?” It means to serve people and to serve God by bringing people together to Him. Our mission and purpose is to bring people back to God again. Are you excited?