From the Pastor's Desk . . .
When I was in elementary school Rock Candy was a big deal. We were so into rock candy one of my teachers decided to show us how to make it. We each took a jar, filled it with water and saturated the water with sugar, dangled a string down the center and let it sit. Each morning we looked at our strings and documented the growing crystals. By Friday our crystals looked almost ready, but we would not get them until the next Monday when they had doubled in size!
Being a lover of candy it was one of my favorite exercises in school. I know the teacher was really trying to get us to learn about crystals and their structure and formation, but for me the message and lesson was very different.
The water we used was clear, and even after boiling the water and adding all of the sugar the water was still clear when we poured it back into the jar. Now tat the water was saturated, if we were to drink it we would have a very different experience than the original tap water would have been. Even though there was no apparent change, EVERYTHING had! When we introduced the new element, the string, we were all very disappointed. NOTHING happened. The teacher told us to be patient, things take time to develop, and sure enough they did.
At the end of the experiment we were given the reward of our candy. As sweet as the reward was, the thing about the experiment that always stayed was the magic that happened when we let nature (God) do its thing. Our role was to get things in motion, do our best to follow the recipe, but also to protect the experiment once it happened. Sometimes we had to guard against inquisitive fingers of other classes and often from our own curiosities, the desire to pull the string before its time or try to add something to make it go faster or make it bigger.
The thing I learned most from this experiment was my role and God’s role. I could “get the ball rolling,” I could keep the experiment safe, I could even watch it to see what was going on, but I could not create the crystal, only God could do that. The same thing is true of all of life. Whether it is the children that we are called to care for, the family that we are part of, or the community that we find ourselves, we each have our place and we all contribute, but the most incredible times are often the ones where we step back and let God do his work.
This Sunday as we celebrate the Children’s Sabbath we have to take time to recognize that we will never be able to control the lives of the children that are around us. We can’t even always keep them safe, but we can do everything in our power to make sure that the world is the best that it can be, and we need to trust that God can and will take care of the rest.
But too often we forget about this role, and like the one kid in my class that knocked over his experiment because he was focused on something else, we let other things pull us away from what is best, and we pass laws or loosen our standards, hurting the children, not letting them grow as they could.
This year the Children’s Sabbath nationally is focusing on two things: Gun Violence and Childhood poverty. These are things that we can control. We can create the environment where all children have enough to eat and can feel safe from the violence of guns. But far too often the politics, greed, and selfish motives get in the way, only to learn later that it is the children who are harmed the most.
Like the crystal, we have a role to play and we must play that role so that God can do His work. We need to think of how we look out for the children in this world and ask ourselves what we might do to make their lives better.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen