Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Interruptability - A talk on Discernment

I spent Friday morning (July 19, 2013) with the primary kids at Gilson College. They have two primary school chapels due to the size of their school. The first group is the grade 4-6 kids. The littles are second.
Every time I go to Gilson College I am impressed with the attention they give to the “Value of the Week” as they give out awards to kids who have excelled in that area. This week the value was “Discernment.” 
(Note: I have now done this talk at other schools, as a Pathfinder rally sermon and as a church sermon. It is well received by all. Stories are powerful. Jesus' stories are absolutely powerful!)

Introduction

The first thing I said, when I took the stage, was:
Let’s learn a Bible verse together. It’s a long one, but it’s easy. I’ll teach you how. Listen as I say it once myself:
“MY FRIENDS, love one another.
EVERYONE, who loves is born of God and knows God.
ANYONE, who does not love, does not know God.
Because, GOD IS LOVE!”
1 JOHN 4:7,8 

I explained how the verse could be remembered easily by breaking it up into sub groups and saying the loud (capitalised) bits loudly.

Then we practiced it together a few times. 

With the littles, I abbreviated it:
“MY FRIENDS, love one another.
Because, GOD IS LOVE!”


The Value for the Week

Discernment is a pretty big word for kids! 

I asked the kids, “Who can tell me: What is discernment?” They gave me some great examples (being kind, being helpful, telling the truth, etc) but not a definition. So, I changed the question, “Who can give me a dictionary definition for Discernment?” That got them thinking. After a bit, someone said, “Making good choices.” 

“YES! Very good!” I said with a smile. Then I gave them an example. 
“Is there anything wrong with crossing the road?”
“No!” The kids shouted back.
“Is there a wrong time to cross the road?”
“YES!” They shouted as I mimed getting squashed by a car. Kids love over-acting... I pulled an explosive face and a leaped backward like I’d just caught a car to the gut. 
Over the kids laughter, I asked, “Is there a right time to cross the road?”
“YES!” They shouted. 
I walked to the edge of the stage looking both ways once saying, “STOP! Looking left. Looking right. No cars. Hmmm. I’ll just look again. Looking left. Looking right. And cross the road.” I mimed taking a few steps.
“So, crossing the road is neither good or bad, but choosing the right time to cross with care - that takes Discernment!” 
Lots of nods from the kids. (and of course a few hands go up. Stories to tell? Road crossing escapades to divulge? Too bad!) Time to move on!


Introducing a New Word

Next I asked them if anyone had ever heard the word “Interruptability”. No one had. So I asked them to guess what it might mean. With the big kids, the first guess was hilarious. In a very serious voice, a girl said, “The ability to interrupt people!” 

I laughed. “If that’s the answer, kids are experts! Nope. Try again, turn it the other way around.”

A boy said, “The ability to be interrupted?” 

“Yes!” I said. “That’s it, exactly! Is it easy to have the ability to be interrupted and like it?” 

The kids all shouted no. 

“What would a person who was interruptable be like?” I asked.
And from this question I went into story number one.


Illustration Joke

With the little kids, I did a bit more explaining. “Interrupt” is a big word all by itself, without attaching “ability” to it as well. So, I told them a joke.
“Do you guys know how to tell ‘knock knock’ jokes?”

They did.

“Knock Knock” I said slowly.

“WHO’S THERE?” the entire room full of tiny people shouted. It was an impressive sound!

“ANNOYING” (I said the words slowly) “INTERRUPTING” (spacing them out) “COW.”

“ANNOYING” (they copied my pace) “INTERRUPTING” (kids mimic well) “C—”

I interrupted, putting the mic right to my mouth, “MOOOOO!!!!”

The laughter was precious! They didn’t all get it at the same time. The humour of it rippled through the kids, laugher peeling like thunder. There’s nothing quite as joyous as children laughing.

After quieting them down, I explained that I had just interrupted them and they had enjoyed it, which meant they had shown interruptability. So, it’s not hard. It’s just something you have to decide to do and that takes Discernment.


Story One - Jesus and the Children

Mark 10 starts and finishes with mirror stories. After a few words about divorce Jesus is interrupted by mothers with their children - wanting a blessing. Jesus was the master of interruptability. He defends the right of these mums and bubs and welcomes them to himself. 

Imagine that when you got up this morning, your mum said, “We’re not going to school today. I’ve just found out that Jesus is going to be at the shops down the street at lunchtime. We’re going to go see Jesus!” 

Kids get right into this type of storytelling. They love imagining a story happening to themselves. And that’s the whole point of Jesus’ stories. They happen to normal people like us. We are drawn to Jesus as we are drawn into each story like a child.

I built up the morning at home, filled with chores and helping Mum. 
Finally, Mum says it’s time to go and you walk, hand-in-hand down the footpath to the shops. You know you are supposed to hold Mum’s hand, but you are just so excited you keep running ahead. Mum calls you back. You come back. Hold Mum’s hand. You run ahead. Mum calls you back. You come back. Hold Mum’s hand. You run ahead... 

In telling this part I make a show of running forward, stopping (shoulders slumped), taking a few steps in reverse, holding my hand up higher than my head (taking Mum’s hand) and then running, stopping, reversing, hand up high, running, stopping reversing, hand up high, etc. Kids love it. They laugh because they see themselves in it. That’s how I believe Jesus would have told stories to kids — with his whole being!

Finally you get to the shops. The place is packed. Everybody is here to see Jesus. Then you hear a man say, “Sorry ladies, Jesus is busy with important people. He doesn’t have time to kiss babies.” 
You look up at Mum. She’s got tears in her eyes. But she keeps pushing into the crowd. “At least we can see Jesus from a distance,” Mum says. There are so many people. So many other kids with their mums. You hear another man tell another group of women to go away. 
Your lip starts to stick out. 

I make a real play out of my lip having a mind of it’s own. Trying to cry. 

“It’s not fair,” you think. And your lip comes out further. It starts to shake. Then it pops out all the way. Your lip is not happy and he’s called the sniffles to come join him. It’s time to cry! 

I mime the beginning of a fit - lip out, shaking, eyes tearing up, nose sniffling, taking ragged breaths. 

Then you hear another voice, loud and demanding. “Let the children come see me! I love kids!” Kids start rushing through the gaps, squeezing through knees and rushing to Jesus. Mum squeezes your hand and says, “Go! Go see Jesus!” You push to the front and Jesus picks you up and sits you on his knee.
“What can I do for you, little one?” Jesus asks.
“I just want a hug,” you say. And he hugs you with such a big warm hug. It’s perfect!

As Jesus hugs you, he looks over your head at the onlooking adults. "Don't ever stop one of these little ones from running to me!" Jesus says this, almost like he's angry. He looks down at your face for a moment and then back at the crowd. "In fact, no one can get into the Kingdom of God unless they run to me, like a child. So, run to me. Let other's run to me! And the Kingdom will be alive in you!"

Jesus give you one final squeeze and sends you back to your mum. 

I then explain there was a day just like this story in the Bible. 

Heaps of people wanted to see Jesus. His disciples told the kids and mums to go away. And Jesus heard it. So, Jesus did the three things that interruptability makes you do.

STOP. LISTEN. HELP. 
I get the kids to say these three things with me.
STOP. LISTEN. HELP. 

Jesus shouted, “STOP!” And he invited the children to come.
Then he LISTENED to the kids.
Then he did what he could to HELP them. He blessed them. He prayed for them. He hugged them. 


Story Two - Blind Bartimaeus

The final story in Mark 10 is also about Jesus’ Interruptability. 

There is a blind man named Bartimaeus sitting on the side of the road just inside the gates of Jericho. He’s been sitting there every day for years. He knows the sounds of people. One person sounds like “plop plop” (mime footsteps). A small group is a bit noisier. And a crowd is a loud very busy sort of sound. 
Today, the crowd is big. REALLY BIG. And Bartimaeus knows something big is happening. 
“What’s going on?” Bartimaeus shouts. (I say this loudly in the mic)
Nobody answers. 
“What’s going on?” Bartimaeus shouts again, louder.
“Be quiet!” Someone shouts back.
“What’s going on?” Bartimaeus shouts again, even louder.
“Be quiet!” The crown shouts back. The Bible actually says the people actually shouted at Bartimaeus! He must have been making a lot of noise for the crowd to respond at full volume. Usually people ignore the blind, disabled — different — people. But they shouted at Bartimaeus and told him to be quiet.
But he didn’t listen. He kept asking what was going on.
Finally someone said, “Jesus is coming.”

Suddenly Bartimaeus’ shout changed, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
He continued shouting this as the crowd moved past him.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
“Be quiet!”
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
“Be quiet!”
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
“Be quiet!!!!” 
“JESUS!! SON!! OF!! DAVID !!” (the kids love this escalating back-n-forth shouting match!)
Finally Jesus hears Bartimaeus.
“STOP!” Jesus commands.
Everyone goes quiet.
Except Bartimaeus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus heard Bartimaeus that time! Jesus walked through the crowd to the blind man.
“What do you want?” Jesus asked and then LISTENED.
Bartimaeus answered without pausing for a breath, “I want to see!”
The Jesus HELPED. “Go. Your faith has made you well.”
Bartimaeus stood up and followed Jesus.


Conclusion

To have interruptability is to be like Jesus.

Jesus had plans. He was busy. He was on a mission.
But Jesus always had time to STOP, LISTEN and HELP.
Jesus was a master of interruptibility.

Imagine how would your day be different if you practiced interruptability.
Someone falls on the playground. STOP. LISTEN. HELP.
Someone forgets their lunch. STOP. LISTEN. HELP.
Someone is crying. STOP. LISTEN. HELP.

Be Interruptable. 
Be like Jesus!

Join with me in saying 1 John 4:7,8
“MY FRIENDS, love one another.
EVERYONE, who loves is born of God and knows God.
ANYONE, who does not love, does not know God.
Because, GOD IS LOVE!”

Let’s pray:
Dear Jesus,
Help us to be like you.
Help us to love each other. 
Help us to have interruptability.
Help us to STOP, LISTEN and HELP.
Amen