Children’s Message: What to do With the Unexpected

So it’s my tradition after the prayer of the day to bring a message to all of God’s children. And today I want to start with using our imaginations. Lets imagine we’re going to the grocery store. Where’s the first place you usually go? For me, I usually visit the fruits and vegetables – making sure to pick up some strawberries, apples, and other goodies. Where would you go next? I then, depending on the store, either get some milk or go pick up cereal that is full of too much sugar. When I go to the grocery store, I usually go with a list and I usually have the same things on the list every week. I might add a new thing every once in a while – but it’s always the same fruits, cereals, pastas, and snacks I pickup each week. My visits to the grocery store are pretty much the same week-to-week. And when I go from aisle to aisle, I tend to be focused on my shopping. But every once in a while, something unexpected happens – and I run into someone I didn’t think who would be there. 

For example, when I was a kid, I might see my teacher at the grocery store. That always felt really weird to me because teachers were supposed to be at school – not at grocery stores! That’s where I saw them, interacted with them, and that’s where I expected them to be. I didn’t expect to see a teacher in a place other than school. Have you ever run into a teacher outside of school? How did it make you feel? It usually made me feel a bit shy, awkward, and I didn’t always know what to say. Those feelings are perfectly normal. When we run into something unexpected – like seeing our teacher outside of school – we might not know how to react to it. It might make us feel surprised or anxious or excited or confused. And when I get that way, I’ve learned that I don’t have to ignore those feelings. I can, instead, just pause and be in that moment with all those feelings. I can be patient, say hello, and go with the flow to see what happens next. 

Today in our story about Jesus, we’re going to listen to someone do something unexpected to Jesus [John 12:1-8 – Mary’s anointing of Jesus]. Often our stories in church tell about how Jesus kept doing unexpected things – like eating meals with people he shouldn’t, or including people others want to exclude, or by healing those who needed help. But this story is about a friend of Jesus, named Mary, doing something unexpected to him. She is going to offer him a gift that some of Jesus’ disciples said she shouldn’t have. It was unexpected – yet Jesus shows us one way we can live with that unexpected thing. We can pause. We can ponder. We can accept the gift of the unexpected because it might impact us in small ways. We might, for example, remember that teachers are people with their own families, lives, and things they like to do. We can celebrate teachers for being more than just one thing – just like we, as kids and students and beloved children of God – are more than one thing too. And we can do that because, as we’ll see in two weeks at Maundy Thursday worship, this unexpected gift invites Jesus to keep doing unexpected things too. 

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 Fifth Sunday in Lent, 4/3/2022.