We are doing a topical sermon series on Hope for the New Year, and this Sunday the hope is Paying it Forward. And if you are over twenty, chances are your memories went straight to that movie several years ago with the same title. However, I have to do a children’s message to a group of people who had not even been born when that movie was made. And how do you talk about hope, to folks who may not understand, but embody hope?
I am going with three simple rules. John Wesley wrote them down, apparently much like he obsessively wrote everything down, and Rueben Job made them famous in a tiny book of the same name. Because these are rules that can operationalize hope, and I can have fun with the children as they learn them.
1. Stay in love with God. Wesley and Job use a bit more intellectual and flowery language, but that is the bottom line. Invest yourself to placing yourself in positions and situations where you know God is foremost.
2. Do no harm This will be fun with kids, but in the end, we can’t do things that hurt or harm others. Even a 2 year old can understand this concept.
3. Do all the good that you can. And yes for you Wesleyan purists, I know the order is backwards, but the point of the message is to get them to Pay it forward. And do all the good that you can gets them there. For John Wesley, and I am fairly certain God, it is not enough to not hurt people, but to bring light and goodness to them. So it is not about simply avoiding bad things, but engaging in good things.
And that is how a place becomes thin.