May 1, 2016
Rev. Tina Walker-Morin
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC
(the sermon below was interactive with both youth and adult participation)
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you O God our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Could the children join me up front? I need your help this morning with my sermon. Can you all help me? Great! I have two stuff dog animals. Now when you hear me call for this animal can you stand up and wave it around? Awesome and when you hear me call for this dog, can you stand up and wave it around? Perfect.
So let me tell you a story. A group of Cherokee children one day gathered around their grandfather. They were filled with excitement and curiosity. That day there had been a quite tumultuous conflict between two adults and their grandfather was called to mediate. The children were eager to hear what he has to say about it.
One of the children pops the question that puzzles him. “Grandfather, why do people fight?” “Well,” the old man replies, “we all have two dogs inside us, you see. They are in our chest. And these dogs are constantly fighting each other”. The eyes of the children have grown big by now. “In our chests too, grandfather?” asks another child. “And in your chest too?” asks a third one. He nods, “yes, in my chest too”. He surely has their attention now. Grandfather continues. “The first dog (who today is the orange dog) is filled with fear, anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The second dog (our yellow dog) is filled with peace, love, hope, courage, humility, compassion, and faith. They battle constantly”. Then he stops. It’s the child that asked the initial question that can’t handle the tension anymore. “But grandfather, which dog wins?” The old Cherokee simply replies, “the one that we feed”.
Now remember that story while we review our scripture from today which is about a man named Saul, who later is called Paul. Let’s listen and watch again this story about Saul.
Tracy: Once upon a time there was a man named Saul. He was a mean man who wanted to hurt the disciples of Jesus. One day as he was walking towards Damascus a bright light from Heaven flashed all around him. He fell to the ground and hear a voice saying…
Bill: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
Tracy: Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?”
Bill: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Tracy: Everyone who was with Saul were speechless and when Saul stood up he could see nothing! So they led him by hand for three days. During that time Saul could not see and neither ate nor drank.
Meanwhile Ananias had a vision in which he heard…
Tracy: Ananias answered “Here I am Lord.”
Bill: “Ananias, get up and go to Saul, he has seen a vision and you are to go and lay your hands on his eyes so that he can see again.”
Tracy: But Ananias was scared and did not want to go because he had heard about Saul and how mean he was. But the Lord said,
Bill: “Ananias go! For Saul is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
Tracy: So Ananias went to find Saul. He told Saul that the “Lord has sent me to give you back your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit”. So he touched Saul on his eyes and he could see again. Saul immediately got up and was baptized.
Wow, Saul sounds like a pretty scary guy. Prior to this scripture he supported the murder of Stephen and he was going around throwing people in prison who followed Jesus (Acts 8). Does this sound like a person God would use to help spread the word of Jesus?
No, I agree.
But you know what? God does! God meets, calls, and transforms Saul.
What happens to Saul in our scripture? That is right, he loses his sight but then God gives it back to him. Then what does Saul do immediately after regaining his sight? Correct, he is baptized!
The scriptures go on to tell us how Saul began teaching and “became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah” (Acts 9:22). Saul became a true believer and follower of Christ.
Now I would like to read you another story. Have you kids read the Hungry Caterpillar? It is one of my favorites.
So what in the world does the hungry caterpillar have to do with Saul?
That is right they both transformed!
What day did the caterpillar transform?
Now Saul needed help from God and Anaiais to transform.
If we believe in _____(Jesus and God) and allow others to help us then we too can be ____(changed) and become even more beautiful inside and out doing good.
There are times in our lives we meet people who are like Saul. They hurt us and make life very difficult for us and sometimes we are the person that hurt others, or we feel a struggle in our chests about the right thing to do, like the two dogs from Cherokee Chief’s story. At times we think our enemies will never change. As we learn about Saul in this lesson we will see that neither we nor any other person is too difficult for God to change. Through faith in Jesus Christ any life can be transformed.
God is transforming people and things all around us we just have to be open to God and open to seeing God working through others. May we all have the hunger of the caterpillar for God and allow God to work through us for good. Amen.
 - See more at: http://basicgoodness.com/2011/the-black-wolf-and-the-white-wolf/#sthash.vBnmy84T.dpuf