Children’s Message: God is with us through the consequences

Delivered on June 9, 2024

Bring toothpaste. 

So it’s my tradition after the prayer of the day to bring a message to all of God’s children. And I’d like to do a children’s sermon I’ve done before and it involves…a tube of toothpaste. This is just a regular, everyday, typical tube of toothpaste. And what do we do with toothpaste? Use it to brush our teeth. We squeeze a little out on a toothbrush and then spend 2 minutes brushing our teeth and gums so we’ll have a healthy mouth. These tubes are designed to let us squeeze and get the toothpaste out. So let’s do that. Squirt on a plate. It’s out in the world! The toothpaste tube has done exactly what it wants to do. But I’ve got a question for you. Now that the toothpaste is out of the tube, go ahead and put it back in? 

We can’t. 

And that’s right. We can’t. Once the toothpaste is out in the world, it’s not designed to go back in. The action of squeezing the tube led to the consequence of the toothpaste coming out and not being able to get back in. If we were going to use that toothpaste, great. But if we did it by accident – then we just wasted it. The consequence – the outcome – what happened when something was done – is something we have to live with.

And today’s first reading [Genesis 3:8-15] from our Bible is about that – a consequence. It comes from the very first book of the Bible – the book of Genesis – which is filled with stories wondering why things are the way they are. One of the stories is about how God cares about the world is made, like a hymn, singing it into being. Another story is about the first people – and wondering why we aren’t as kind or loving or helpful or respectful as we should be. In that story, the first people live in a garden that God takes care of. And God tells them they can do anything and eat anything except for the fruits from two trees in the garden. Since they’re people, someone saying “don’t do something” just made them want to do it and a serpent convinces them that they should eat from the tree, claiming that there would be no consequences if they listen to someone else rather than God. So they eat fruit from the tree and the people suddenly discover all about what’s good and bad and everything in between. And once that happens, there’s no going back. Like the toothpaste out of the tube, things are now different and the first people have to live with the consequences. 

We don’t hear much of those consequences in the reading today – and we might want to wonder and spend our energy thinking about why they did that. But rather than focusing so much on the why, I think it’s okay to focus on what God does in this story. God starts the story in the garden. God is there. God is present. God is hanging out with them. And even though Adam and Eve don’t listen to him – God doesn’t give up on them. The consequences are great; their selfishness – and the ways they chose to act like God rather than listening to God – is something we still struggle with today. We want our way and our needs met at the expense of everyone else; we want things our way, right now, and we don’t always listen to people around us. We do this a lot with our actions – but also our words – and we don’t like living with the consequences that come. Those consequences might be something small but they can also be large. And we’ll often get more mad at the consequences rather than the original actions that caused that issue in the first place. God, though, doesn’t let us run away from our consequences. God knows that we make mistakes, we mess up, and that we fail to love others the way they should be loved. God knows that – and doesn’t want us to do that – nor does God sanction us acting as if we are God ourselves. But God doesn’t give up on us. God chooses to be present with us. God chooses to be with us through the consequences with grace and mercy and promise that lets mercy, love, and forgiveness win in the end. So – we should be mindful that our actions and our words are like toothpaste in a tube – once it’s out, it’s out and we should face and live with the consequences that come. And yet those consequences don’t drive God from us. Rather, God chooses to be with us through those consequences – through what we have to live through – so that those who have been affected, those who have been hurt, and even those who did the hurt – can be with the One who, through grace, mercy, attention, time, and guidance – help them discover who God knows they can be. 

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