Bring a giant Shriver’s balloon and some salt taffy.
I’m very glad to see you today.
So I brought something with me today that is ridiculous. It’s…this! Share the giant balloon that is an eight foot tall salt water taffy. Let’s see how big this is. Compare it to the kids. Show how tall it is. Try not to knock over anything on the altar.
This is…gigantic. And it’s from a candy store in Ocean City New Jersey. Every night during the summer at 8 pm, the store gives out these giant balloons to kids. Kids line up to get them and then spend the rest of the night walking down the boardwalk carrying these HUUGGEEE balloons. It’s fun to see all the kids carrying them, playing with them, and celebrating these giant balloons.
Why do you think this candy company, Shriver’s, gives out these balloons? Accept answers.
I think they give them out for a few reasons. One, because they’re so big, they’re easy to see and they advertise the company. They hope people will see them and come to their store and buy their products. I also think they give them out because they like seeing the joy kids and adults have when they see something so big, so large, and so ridiculous. And they also, I think, represent something we might like to have – a giant piece of candy that’s bigger than us, that we can safely eat, and since this is pretend – we also pretend that we can eat this whole thing in one sitting, and not ruin our teeth, our appetite, our gain too much weight. These ridiculous giant taffy’s invite us to imagine a different kind of world where something ridiculous and fun brings us – and so many kids and adults – joy and fun.
Now, is it easy to carry this balloon around? No. Try it! Imagine trying to carry this around…all the time. It’s hard! You can’t get into the car easily. You can’t get into church easily. And if you carried this back to your pews, it wouldn’t fit very well with you. It feels impossible to have this in our life – because even though it’s fun – it doesn’t feel very practical.
In one of our readings today, from the book attributed to a guy named James, we’re going to start hearing some teachings that sound like they make sense and are good to do – but are sometimes not going to feel practical. We’re going to hear that we should always listen, not to speak until we listen first, and not get too angry too fast. We’re going to be invited to care for widows and orphans – which is God’s way of telling us to notice the people who are hurting, who don’t have much, and who we might not always see and that we should take care of them. James is going to invite us to imagine the world as a place where all people are fed, taken care of, and can become the people God wants them to be. And that’s going to sound great – and holy – and amazing – but…might not seem practical. God’s vision of the world is going to seem like this…giant balloon – fun, amazing, something to hope for, but not practical. Because how can we do all the things God asks us to do? It seems impossible to take care of all people, to listen to everyone, and to just…always love, no matter what. It seems like we sometimes can’t do that.
But James knows something that we sometimes forget. That, since we are Christians, and since we are baptized, and since Jesus is with us all the time – we get to do different and amazing and sometimes ridiculous things. It might seem impossible to take care of everyone – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And we do that by trying to do one thing: to be kind when we don’t want to; to listen to others when we first feel like we want to talk first; to notice the people who don’t have what we have and try to help them; to do one small thing. Because we can all do one small thing to love God, love our family, love our friends, and love our neights. And that one thing, (show the real salt water taffy that you have) while it feels small, can be just as sweet. Pass out salt water taffy to the kids that can have it.
Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.
Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/2/2018.