September 21, 2008

One of the pleasures of my life is preparing the weekly “Time for Children” message for our worship service at Reardan Presbyterian. It challenges me to examine my faith and focus on a single concept that can be taught in 5 minutes. The adults also call it the “Sermon for the Short Attention Span.” Today’s lesson was a good one to share on a political blog, so here is the story of today’s Time for Children.

“Does anybody know what special day we remembered on September 17th?” You never know what kind of an answer you’ll get from the kids, the most popular answer was “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” James shot his hand up and answered correctly “Constitution Day,” commemorating the ratification of the United States Constitution. We shared high fives!

My devotional reading over the summer has been in the Old Testament in I and II Samuel and continuing on into I and II Kings. I described how the Israelites pleaded with God to give them a king, just like all the other countries, and God said “okay, but you’re not going to like it.” I pulled a jeweled crown, usually reserved for a wise man in the Christmas pageant, out of my special blue bag reserved for the day’s object lesson and placed it on James’ head. His face immediately turned into one of giddy greed, as he rubbed his hands together in anticipation of power. I couldn’t have arranged a better reaction for the object lesson! “That’s why God said we would regret asking for a king, see what happened to James as soon as he put on a crown?”

I explained why our Constitution set us apart from all the other countries, we reserved the power for the people and not for a king. Next I read the Preamble to the kids:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.

We talked briefly about what the old fashioned phrases mean to us today. I described for them how the next 44 days there will be lots of advertisements and phone calls and mail about the elections, with lots of different opinions and arguing and accusations, and asked what will happen on Election Day. Got a great answer from one of the kids (I love it when the lesson is Spirit led!): “It will stop.” She was right - all the rhetoric and arguing will stop, and our country will get on with life. Our Constitution gives us confidence that power will be handed over peacefully, as it has been for over 200 years, quite different from the ongoing battles of the Old Testament kings.

The Constitution was written by men who believed we could not have an earthly king, because we already have a heavenly King. Our Constitution is our best attempt at a “more perfect” union, not a perfect union, and it has served us well. We ended by thanking God for our Constitution and the men who wrote it, and for God as our perfect King who offers us a perfect union in His Kingdom.

Worship restores the soul. I’m ready for another week on the campaign trail!