Showing posts with label Youth Sermon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Youth Sermon. Show all posts

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Simplify the Law

21 Pentecost, Cycle A Proper 25, October 29,2017
Deuteronomy 34: 1-12 Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 Matthew 22:34-46

Lectionary Link

Youth Dialogue Sermon

Caroline:  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  You may be seated.
Catherine, what are you doing with those big thick books?

Catherine:  They are books of all the laws.

Caroline:  That's a lot of laws.  But why are you carrying them around and why are you looking at your cell phone?

Catherine:  Well, these books list just some of the laws in our country and I don't want to break any laws, anywhere.  How do I know that I won't break a jay walking law in New Jersey, if I have go there?  And I keep looking at my phone to see if my lawyer has called to see if I'm breaking any laws.

Alex:  Well, don't you think that you are obsessing a bit too much about all the rules?

Catherine:  Well, I may be obsessing but that still doesn't mean that I won't break a law.  I just have to be prepared.

Caroline:  There must be a better way to put yourself at ease over the fear of breaking a law.

Catherine:  What do you mean?

Alex: I think she means that not all laws are created equal?

Caroline:  I don't think that is what I meant, but what do you mean that "all laws are not created equal?"

Alex:  I mean that some laws are more important than others.  For example, here's a no brainer:  Is it more important not to kill another person or pick up after your dog in the city park?

Caroline:  I see what you mean.  Of course, it is more important not to kill than to remove that natural dog fertilizer from the city park lawn.  But how does that help Catherine's worry about the laws.

Catherine: Yeah, how can this help me?  I just can't walk around being uninformed about the laws and rules of society.

Alex:  Well, the main worry in life should be about keeping the most important rules.

Caroline:  You mean like the 10 Commandments?

Alex:  Exactly, Catherine, do you know the 10 Commandments.

Catherine:  Yes, I know the Big 10.  And I have mostly kept them, short of a few little "white" lies and borrowing some things from my sister secretly.  And I've probably "coveted" a few times in wanting too much of what I do not have.

Caroline:  So, it was you who borrowed my iPad!  I'm glad you finally confessed!

Catherine:  Okay, but give me some legal help please!

Caroline:  I think Jesus gave some wonderful legal advice.

Alex:  How did he do that?

Caroline:  He wanted to teach people how to think legally and morally so they would know what to do.

Catherine:  How did he do that?

Alex:  Well, he reduced the Big 10 to the Big 3.  And everyone can remember 3 things easier than 10 or the many other rules in life.

Catherine:  And what is the Big 3?

Caroline:  One: Love God.  Two: Love your neighbor.  Three: Love yourself.

Alex:  If we judge everything that we do by loving God, loving our neighbor and loving our self, then we will only want to do what is right by God, by our neighbor and by our self.

Catherine: Okay, but what about all the thousands and thousands of rules?  Are they important?

Caroline:  They are important but important in a different way than how the Big laws are important.

Alex:  Yes, the Torah had 613 rules about some of the small details of life.  There were so many rules that you needed to have rabbis as religious lawyers around to tell you how to keep all the rules.

Caroline:  In the time of Jesus, some of the minor rules were treated as more important than some of the big rules.

Catherine: Like what?

Alex:  Like when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath and the religious leaders said that healing was work and so Jesus should not be doing the work of healing on the Sabbath.

Caroline:  And that is really petty.  If you lift your hand to wash your face or put a piece of bread into your mouth on the Sabbath, isn't that working too?

Catherine:  I can really see how petty things could get.

Alex:  Jesus was more concerned about our motives in our hearts.  He was more concerned about learning how to think legally.

Catherine:  Do you mean that he has given us the Holy Spirit who is like the Law of God inside of us?  And we can consult the Holy Spirit to inform our conscience about doing right and wrong?

Caroline: Bingo.  You've got it.  Now ditch the books sister!

Catherine: Phew!  What a relief.  Jesus has taught me to be a moral and a legal thinker.  Hmmm.  If I do this will it mean that I am loving God, loving my neighbor and loving myself?  If I can answer "yes" do these, then I should be safe in choosing what to do.

Alex:  I'm glad that Jesus simplified the law for us, but it doesn't make it any easier.

Caroline:  Why do you say that?

Alex:  Well trying to love is never finished and we can always get better at doing loving things.

Catherine:  I agree.  Loving God, our neighbor and ourselves is a lifelong adventure and we never get finished.

Caroline:  Well, I've got some good news and some bad news for everyone today.

Alex:  What's the bad news?

Caroline:  You have 613 rules to learn from the Old Testament and you probably are breaking many of them?

Catherine:  What's the good news?

Alex:  The good news is that the Big 10 and the even bigger Big 3 help us sort out the most important laws.

Caroline:  But even better, Jesus promises to change our lives from within so that we can always be at work loving God, loving our neighbors and loving ourselves.

Catherine:  That's probably a good place to stop.  The law is not God's gift to us to make us petty and worried about doing wrong.  God law is an invitation for all us to become better lovers of God, our neighbors and yes, ourselves.  Can you say, Amen?

Everyone:  Amen.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Darlin', Everyone Loves Pearls, Including Jesus

8 Pentecost, Cycle A Proper 12, July 30, 2017
1 Kings 3:5-12 Psalm 119:129-136
Romans 8:26-39   Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Youth Dialogue Sermon:

Caroline:  Catherine, I think Jesus must have liked jewelry.

Catherine:  And why would you say that?

Caroline:  Well, he told a parable about a person who searched for and found the perfect pearl.

Catherine:  (spinning her pearls)  Well, dawlin', everybody loves pearls so why wouldn't Jesus love them too?  But you could also say that Jesus loved fishing, horticulture, baking and writing.  He told stories about lots of things that were known in the lives of his listeners.

Caroline:  I guess you're right.  Jesus did not speak like a professor in a philosophy class, he learned to speak street language.  He learned to put wisdom into ordinary speech.

Catherine: Jesus wanted everyone to be wise.  King Solomon asked God to give him wisdom to be a good king for his people.  We are told that Solomon was the wisest person in his time.

Caroline:  But didn't he have over 1000 wives and ladies in his court?

Catherine: Yes he did and perhaps he was wise because his "think tank" had 1000 women giving him wise advice.

Caroline:  What wisdom was Jesus trying to teach people?

Catherine:  Jesus taught mainly about the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven.  Since we are not a monarchy, we might say that Jesus taught about the nation of God, or the realm of God.

Caroline: Jesus taught that people could understand that they lived in the nation of God.

Catherine:  In the time Jesus,  people lived in the nation of Israel but the nation of Israel was controlled by the Roman Empire.  Everyone was living in the kingdom of the Caesar.

Caroline:  Jesus said that we could discover a kingdom and a nation greater and better than the kingdom of Caesar.

Catherine: The kingdom of the Caesar seemed obvious.  There were soldiers everywhere.  There were many signs of the kingdom of the Caesar.  What were the signs of the kingdom of heaven?

Caroline:  Jesus said that a person needed to have special seeing to understand the kingdom of heaven.

Catherine:  Yes, the kingdom of heaven is subtle.  It catches you by surprise.  It becomes known when lots of small faithful deeds accumulate to become something great.  It's like the tiny mustard seed; it goes in the ground and before you know it is a large tree supporting birds.

Caroline:  This is a very wise insight.  Character is only formed through many small deeds.  This means we need to be faithful in the every day deeds of life because we are forming our character.  The character of the kingdom of heaven becomes known when people practice love and justice.

Catherine: Yeast is but a dab of cultured flour, but a small dab of yeast will make dough rise in but a few hours.  The kingdom of Caesar came to the world with armies forcing people to obey;  the kingdom of heaven works in the small deeds of kindness and love that slowly take over.

Caroline: But let us now get to the perfect pearl.  What did Jesus mean by this?

Catherine: All of us are in search of the perfect pearl in life?

Caroline: What do you mean?

Catherine:  I mean that we are seeking to find the most important things to believe in this life.  And when we find what is most important we sacrifice other things in our lives to devote ourselves to what is most perfect.

Caroline:  Everyone needs to find the pearl in life?

Catherine: And what do you think the pearl in life is?

Caroline:  It is knowing that God created us and loves and has made us children of God who live in God's family, nation and kingdom.

Catherine: But how can we know that we are living in God's kingdom?  There are lots of bad things happening in our world.

Caroline:  Well, Jesus also told a fishing story.  When a fish net is pulled in, the fishers have to sort out what is in the net.  They have to decide what to keep and what to throw back.   The kingdom of heaven is like sorting the catch in the fish net.  We are people with freedom who must choose good values.  This means that we are always sorting through the things that we want to stay in our lives and the things that we have to discard because they are harmful.  To live as citizens in God's kingdom, we always need to be sorting out our values.

Catherine:  Always sorting out our values; this is very good advice.

Caroline:  Why did you say that Jesus told a story about writing?

Catherine:  Well, the scribes in the time of Jesus were people who were literate.  Not everyone read and so the scribes were the educated persons who could read and write.  They studied.  They read the great books were available.  The great books for the scribes were the books of what we call the Old Testament.  The scribes read the very old words of the Bible, but they also wrote new words.  They would try to understand the meaning of the old words of the Bible in their new time.  So they would write new words for people to understand what the Bible means in their lives.

Caroline:  Well, I think this is good place to finish.

Catherine:  Why is it a good place to finish?

Caroline:  Well, we today are scribes.  We read the words of the Bible.  They are very old words that have been with us for a long time.  But we take these words and we write, preach, teach and use them to inspire us to understand that even though God's kingdom is very old, it is still new and fresh.  God's kingdom can still be understood as new in our lives.

Catherine:  So all of us today are called to be wise scribes for the kingdom of heaven, even if we have bad handwriting.

Catherine:  Yes, may God help us discover how old and new the kingdom of heaven is.  And let us commit ourselves to helping everyone know that they live in God's kingdom, as citizens and children of God.  Amen.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Peek a Boo!

3 Easter A         April 30, 2017   
Acts 2:14a,36-47   Ps. 116:10-17
1 Peter 1:17-23    Luke 24:13-35              
Lectionary Link

Catherine:  Can anyone guess about the most popular toy of all time?

Alex:  A Star Wars’ light saber.

Catherine: Wrong!

Caroline: Barbie Dolls.

Catherine:  Wrong!

Alex: Okay, what is the most popular toy of all time?

Catherine:  It’s the stick.  Kids from the beginning of time have been playing with sticks.  With the imagination, a stick can become anything that a child wants.

Alex:  Well, I thought you sticking to the modern era.  I did not know you were going to go to pre-historic times.

Catherine:  Here’s another trivia quiz:  What is the most popular game of all times?

Caroline:  Tag…playing tag.

Catherine: No.

Alex: Ring around the rosy.

Catherine: No.

Caroline: I would say Super Mario Brothers, but that is too modern for your quiz.

Catherine: Yes, much too modern.  People have not had Play Stations and X-Boxes for very long in human history.  So………drum roll…….the most popular game of all time is the game, “Peek-a-boo.”

Alex: Okay, Peek a boo it is.  But what does this have to do we our sermon today?

Catherine: I’m glad you asked.  Peek a boo is a universal game.  All parents teach their children this game.

Caroline:  Why do you think it is such a common game to play?

Catherine:  I think it is parental psychological conditioning of their children?

Alex:  What do you mean by that Doctor Freud? 

Catherine:  Parents need to teach their baby that baby will be safe and loved even when they don’t see mommy and daddy.  Parents need to teach babies how to adjust and not be upset when they cannot see or touch mom and dad.  So, when they cover their face or baby’s face and then suddenly uncover their face and cry Peek a boo, they are training their baby.

Caroline: So, a baby is getting used to not seeing mom or dad but they can always anticipate that mom and dad will be seen again soon.

Alex:  And mom and dad can get some sleep at night while their baby sleeps in another room.

Catherine:  So there is great wisdom in this popular game of  Peek a boo.

Caroline:  Okay but when are going to get to the sermon?

Alex: Yeah….what does Peek a boo have to do with the Gospel?

Catherine:  Hold on…..we’re building up to a grand finish.  The meaning is hidden now but soon will jump out at you and say, Peek a boo.

Caroline:  I think I could guess at one of the meanings.  If God is our heavenly parent and if Jesus disappeared from the lives of his friends when he died on the Cross; perhaps his friends were frightened about losing the presence of Jesus in their lives forever.

Alex:  So the two men who were walking on the Emmaus Road were sad about the death and disappearance of Jesus when he died.  They were worried about not ever seeing Jesus again.

Catherine:  And Jesus came and walked with the disciples but they did not recognize him.

Caroline:  Why didn’t they recognize him.

Catherine:  He was incognito.  It is like the Risen Christ had super abilities…. stealth abilities.  He could switch his appearance off or on because of his super Resurrection body.

Alex:  The disciples who walked with Jesus and did not know it was him, said that their hearts burned with excitement.

Caroline: Why?

Alex: The hidden but Risen Christ explained to the disciples about the suffering Messiah who was written about in the Prophets.

Catherine:  Yes, the disciples who were so sad about the death of Jesus on the cross were comforted to find out about why the Messiah had to die.  But I don’t think they were ready for the big surprise.

Caroline:  And what was the big surprise?

Catherine: There was a Peek a boo surprise.

Alex:  Yes, there was.  When they sat down at the roadside Inn to eat a meal together.  While they were eating bread together, the Risen Christ suddenly became recognized. Poof!

Catherine:  “Peek a Boo!  I Am the Risen Christ!  And I am with you.”

Caroline: What a shocking surprise.  And then the Risen Christ with his super Resurrection Stealth Body, just disappeared.

Alex:  Wow!  What is the meaning of this story?

Caroline:  Well, I think that even though we can’t see God and we can’t see and touch Jesus, it does not mean that God and Jesus aren’t with us.

Alex:  So how do we know that Christ is with us?

Catherine: By Word and Sacrament.  We know that Christ is present by reading God’s Word.  And we know that Jesus left his presence with us in the bread and the wine of Holy Eucharist.

Caroline:  Yes, the church has stayed alive and well for over two thousand years because we have read the words of the Bible and have continue to have the knowledge of God and Christ through reading the Bible.

Alex:  Yes, and the church has gathered for two thousand years to celebrate again and again the Last Super, the Holy Eucharist.  Why?

Caroline: Because Jesus commanded his disciples to do this.  And for two thousand years, we have obeyed Jesus and even though we don’t see Jesus, we believe that he is present to us in the bread and wine when we gather together.

Catherine: So, I need to issue an alert to everyone today.

Alex:  What kind of alert?

Catherine:  A Peek a boo, alert.

Caroline:  What do you mean?

Catherine:  Well, when people come to communion today and receive the bread and the wine, they need to be on the alert.  From the cover of the bread and wine, the Risen Christ may be jumping out and saying,

All three: Peek a boo.  I see you.  I love you.  I am with you always.

Catherine:  Amen.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bee Attitude?

4 Epiphany A      January 29, 2017              Youth Sunday Dialogue Sermon

Micah 6:1-8       Ps. 37:1-18   1 Cor. 1:18-31    Matt. 5:1-12

Alex:         In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.  You may be seated.    Today we’ve read a speech that is more famous than Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

Rylie:        What’s that?

Alex:         t’s the Sermon on the Mount delivered by Jesus Christ.  It is also called the Beatitudes.  Do you know what Beatitude means?

Caroline:  I do.  A Bee Attitude is how a bee behaves.  For example, collecting pollen is a Bee Attitude.  And buzzing is a Bee Attitude.  And making honey is a Bee Attitude.  And stinging people is also a Bee Attitude.

Rylie:        Caroline, that does sound correct, and it does make for an interesting pun.  But beatitude means something else.

Caroline:  Like what?

Alex:         I think the word comes from the Latin word “Beatus”  BEE  AT US. 

Caroline:  And was does that mean?

Alex:         Beatus means “Blessed.”

Rylie:        That’s it!   All of the beatitudes begin with the words “Blessed.”  So that is why this speech of Jesus is called the Beatitudes.

Caroline:  Now that we’ve got that settled.  Can we talk about some of the meanings of the beatitudes?  Some of the meanings are kind of hard to understand.

Alex:         What do you mean?

Caroline: Well like, “Blessed are you when people persecute you and when they speak falsely about you.”  How can that be happiness or good luck?  How can we say that we would be lucky if someone lied about us and how could we say that we are blessed and happy?

Rylie:        I think that Jesus was teaching his followers about what he valued in life.  Jesus valued telling the truth.  He said that anyone who lied would be living in a cursed state.  So it is much better to be the one who lives in truth and who is lied about than the one who tells lies to hurt other people.

Caroline:  So we are happy and blessed if we get to be the people who tell the truth; the people who tell lies are cursed and they hurt other people when they lie.

Alex:         It can really be hard to stand up for the truth sometimes.  And it is really hurtful when people lie and hurt the reputations of other people.  But Jesus said, if you want to follow him you must be willing to stand up for what is true no matter what people say about you.

Rylie:        What about the so called lucky conditions of life in beatitudes?  Like blessed are the meek, blessed are those who mourn?  Why would being meek or mourning be good at all?

Caroline:  Meek means to be humbly patient. This is the opposite of being proudly impatient.  People who are proudly impatient are people who trample all over the feelings and rights of other people. People who act that way are living a cursed life. The people who are humbly patient are those who have the Spirit within them giving them self-control. But how do humbly patient people inherit the earth? It appears that proudly impatient people just go ahead and take as much as they want.

Rylie:        Inheriting the earth means we get something free from our parents. And people who know God as their heavenly parent know that God has given them the blessing of the created world. This does not mean having lots of money and big houses. It means God has given us the world as a gift for us to enjoy. It is much better to have the gift of enjoying the world than just to own property. But why do you think mourning is a blessed condition of life?

Alex:         I think that mourning can be a blessed condition of life not because we always like to feel sad and cry. What Jesus probably means is that people who have mourned in their lives will know how to comfort and be with people who are sad. It is the gift of empathy. Empathy is knowing how other people feel and so you know how to comfort them. When you know how to comfort other people you can also know comfort for yourself and you can be thankful that you learned how to mourn.

Rylie:        That is a different kind of mourning than being a cry baby. Not that I would ever call anyone that!  But what is good about being poor in spirit? Isn’t is better to be wealthy and rich in Spirit.

Caroline:  I think what that means is that God’s Holy Spirit is the wealthiest Spirit of all. And if we think our own little spirits are the greatest and wealthiest then we will not make room for God’s Holy Spirit. So we have to learn how poor our spirits are to find out how much we need to ask the Holy Spirit to be strong and rich at the center of our lives.  When we discover the Holy Spirit within us, then we truly know that we are living in the kingdom of heaven.

Alex:         Quiz time!  How can you and I know for certain that we are children of God?

Rylie:        If we are peacemakers then we will know that we are children of God?

Caroline:   I think that is why we pass the peace every Sunday in church.  We practice the greeting of peace so that we take this as the way that we’re supposed to live with all people.  I know that my mom and dad are happy with me as their child when I live at peace with my dear sister.  So God is really happy with his children when they also live at peace with each other and when they help to bring peace to everyone.  But there is something important needed to make peace happen.

Alex:         What is that?

Caroline:  Since we are not perfect people and we have to live together, we need to practice forgiveness.

Rylie:        Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy.”  Everyone who is not perfect needs mercy.  And the best thing that an imperfect person can do is to have mercy.

Alex:         And it just so happens that people who have mercy also receive mercy.  When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Caroline:  Yes, we should treat other people the way that we want to be treated.  So if we want mercy for ourselves, we need to practice forgiveness.  Well, this preaching makes me hungry.  I hope we have some good snacks in coffee hour.

Rylie:        Hold it Caroline.  Jesus said you should hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Caroline:  I’m sorry but my growling stomach tells me that hunger is not a metaphor. It’s how I really feel.

Alex:         That’s the point Jesus is trying to make.  He is saying that we should have a longing and a desire to do what is right.  And if we do what is right, then we will be filled.  We will be satisfied and contented.  But I think one of the hardest sayings of Jesus is when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Rylie:        Doesn’t it say in other places in the Bible that no one can see God?  Isn’t this like saying if we were birds then we would be able to fly; but since we’re not birds, we will never be able to fly?

Caroline:  It might mean that when we learn to have the correct motives in life that we will begin to see how God is involved in our lives.  The Holy Spirit is working to create in us a clean heart and as our heart become pure, then we can better understand what God is doing in our lives and in our world.

Alex:         So we’re never going to be perfect, but we can always become “more perfect” today than we were yesterday.

Rylie:        As we find the good and right reason for doing everything then we will understand or see God more clearly.

Caroline:  Well, these beatitudes are not for the bees, they are for us.  And they are some very difficult habits of living for us to succeed at.

Alex:         Yes, Jesus set a very high standard for us, but this is good because it is better to have very high standards and fail than to have very low standards and not achieve much.

Rylie:        People of St. John’s, Jesus invites us and the entire world to learn to live by the beatitudes.

Caroline:  We are lucky, happy and blessed people if we are learning to adjust our lives to the beatitudes.

Alex:         Let us thank Jesus today for the high standards that he gives to us.  It means that we need God’s mercy and help as we try to follow the high standards that have been given to us.

Rylie:        Jesus gave us the beatitudes.  And now all I’ve got to say is, “Let’s get to work and follow Jesus towards the beatitudes.”  Amen.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Close Encounter with Jesus of the Best Kind

24  Pentecost, Cp26, October 30, 2016
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 Psalm 119:137-144
2 Thessalonians 1:1-5 (6-10) 11-12 Luke 19:1-10
Catherine:In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.  You may be seated.
  Caroline, I get it that it is Halloween tomorrow, but really an ET mask?   That really is 1980's and you weren’t even born then.  Are you trying to be really retro?
Caroline: Well, Andrew, is going to a party with me and he is the UFOologist.  So he told me that he would wear thick horned rim glasses and be the scientific Geek studying extra terrestrial life.
Andrew: That's right, I am a UFOologist, strictly scientific though.
Catherine: Scientific?  What do you mean?
Andrew: I deal with just the facts.  I follow the classification system for contact with alien life.
Caroline: What is the classification system?
Andrew: There is what is called Close Encounters of the First Kind and it goes all the way to Close Encounter of Eighth Kind.
Caroline: Well, then the Movie Alien ET must have been the closest encounter of all.
Catherine: What is a close encounter of the first, second and third kind?
Andrew: First kind is a visual sighting of a UFO, an unidentified flying object...a flying saucer.  The second encounter in when animals respond or when interference occurs in radio or radar signals.  The third in when a live alien is seen.  The fourth is when a human being is abducted or kidnapped by an alien.
Caroline: Wow, all of this sounds really spooky, but scientific.
Catherine: I understand it is Halloween and so we have the ET costume and the UFO-talk, but we are giving a sermon so how can we change ET and a UFOologist  into a sermon?
Andrew: I'm glad you ask.  Today we read about the levels of encounters that the man Zacchaeus had with Jesus.
Caroline: So how would you classify  the kinds of close encounters which Zacchaeus had with Jesus?
Andrew: Well, at first Zacchaeus had a close encounter of the curious kind.
Catherine: What do you mean?
Andrew: Well, Jesus was a popular prophet and teacher who gaining many followers.  And Zacchaeus was curious about the attention which Jesus was getting.
Caroline: Why do you think Zacchaeus was curious about Jesus?
Catherine: Well, he was a tax collector.  The Roman armies controlled nation of Israel.  The Roman administration collected taxes from the Jews.  But they used Jews to collect the taxes from their own people.  Zacchaeus had to collect money from his fellow countrymen.
Caroline: So Zacchaeus was not very popular with the Jews?
Catherine: No, because tax collectors overcharged in order to make a profit.  They hung out with non-Jewish people and so they were regarded to be sinners who did not follow all the Jewish laws of purity.
Andrew: So if Zacchaeus was hated by religious people, he probably thought that he did not ever have a chance to be a faithful person who was accepted for believing in God.
Caroline: He was curious about Jesus because Jesus seemed to make friendship with all kinds of people, people who were just like him.  People who were regarded to be lost sinners by the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Catherine: So if being curious about Jesus is a close encounter of the first kind for Zacchaeus, what would be a close encounter of the second kind?
Caroline: Well, Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming to his town, the town of Jericho.  So he went out to see him, but he could not see Jesus.  He was short man and so he could not see over the shoulders of the crowd.
Andrew: So, he climbed up a sycamore tree in order to see and hear Jesus.  When he made the effort to see and hear Jesus, he moved to a close encounter of the second kind.  But then he got a big shock.
Catherine: What do you mean?
Andrew: Well, you would really be shocked if an extra-terrestrial, an alien, began to speak with you and call to you.
Caroline: Well, Jesus noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and so he spoke to him and he told him to come down from the tree.  And he told him that he was going to come to his house.
Andrew: So Jesus went to the home of Zacchaeus.  I think this qualifies for a close encounter with Jesus of the third kind, don't you?
Catherine: Yes, it does.  Because if Jesus came to your home for some dinner and some conversation, this would be a very close encounter indeed.
Caroline: Well, I guess the close encounter with Jesus ended with a visit to the home of Zacchaeus.
Andrew: Not so fast, the close encounter become even closer.
Caroline: How so?
Andrew: Jesus got even closer to Zacchaeus.  He got under his skin.  The wonderful Spirit of Jesus went straight into the heart of Zacchaeus.
Catherine: What happened?
Andrew: Zacchaeus got hit in the heart almost like an arrow of Cupid.  He was immediately changed.
Caroline: He sure was.  He had been a greedy and dishonest tax collector and when Jesus got really close to him, he said that he would repay all of the money that he had cheated others out of and even give them more.  So when Zacchaeus had a close encounter with Jesus, it changed his relationship with his money.  Sounds like Father Phil has a good stewardship message there.
Catherine: So when the words and the Spirit of Jesus got inside of Zacchaeus and changed him into an honest and truthful person, could we call this a close encounter with Jesus of the fourth kind?
Andrew: Whether it is a close encounter of the first, second, third or fourth kind, it is a close encounter with Jesus of the best kind.
Caroline:  That's true.  How can we classify our encounters with Jesus today?
Catherine: What would a first encounter be like?
Caroline: Well, we can all know about Jesus.  We can study about him as a famous person in the history of the world.  That is a first encounter with Jesus.
Andrew: But we can go onto the second and third encounters with Jesus.
Catherine: How do we do this?
Caroline: We can read the Bible.  We can go to church.  We can pray.  We can get baptized.  We can make promises to follow the teachings of Jesus.  We can receive the bread and the wine of the Eucharist as an experience of Jesus becoming very close to us.
Andrew: But how can we become like Zacchaeus and have close encounters with Jesus of the best kind?
Caroline: I think the encounter with Jesus of the best kind is when we let the Spirit of Christ get inside of our hearts and begin to change our lives in such a profound way that we begin to love God more and we begin to love our neighbors better.  But will you excuse me now?
Andrew: Why do you need to be excused?
Caroline:  I'm getting a call.  I phoned home and this is perhaps a return call for my ride back home on an Uber space ship.
Catherine: , bye ET.....Jesus did go back to home with his Father in Heaven.  But he did leave us the Holy Spirit.
Caroline: Yes, He did.  And with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we can still have close encounters with Jesus of the best kind.
Andrew: Yes, my friends, I wish for all of us here today an encounter with Jesus of the best kind.  Zacchaeus had his life changed by the best encounter with Jesus.  I hope that all of us can have our lives changed in this way too.  Amen.