A Bruised Reed
Disposable items: diaper, paper plate, paper cup, plastic cutlery, paper tablecloth.
Items needing attention or repair: lamp without a bulb, hairdryer without plug, shirt that needs a button.
You'll also need a garden cane, bamboo whistle, clay lamp or any oil lamp.
Good morning everybody, how are you all today? I know that today when you go into Sunday school youíre going to be finding out about friendship, so I want to talk a wee bit about friendship with you.
Iím sure that all of you have friends. I want you to think about your best friend. What kind of things do you do together?
Now I want you to think about something else. Are you ready? Suppose you have a best friend and that person promises that theyíll always be your friend. They will also say there are special things you will do together, like spending time together, talking about the things that are important to both of you, like football, music and school! Now just supposing that your friend changes his or her mind and stops spending time with you. In fact, they just forget about you altogether and they go off and join another group of people. How would that make you feel? If you could send a message to someone like that what would it be?
(Possible answers Ė a message to say Iím angry, maybe talk about them to other people, maybe you would even ask if you could be friends again.)
Let me show you some things. (Take out the disposable items.)
Ask the boys and girls what it all has in common?
Explain how even though we may use some of them more than once theyíre really made to be used only one time and then discarded. Theyíre made to be thrown away.
(Take out the items needing attention or repair.)
What do these things have in common? (They all need something done to them to make them useful again.)
Sometimes we think thatís how people treat us, like weíre disposable, they can use us and just throw us away when theyíre finished with us. At other times they treat us like these things that needed mending, and they might just not want to take the time to mend our friendship, it might not be worth it to them, and thatís very sad.
Boys and Girls, Iím going to read you something that was written over two and a half thousand years ago. A long time before we were born. It was written even a long time before Jesus was born, and yet, it was written about Him! It was written by a man named Isaiah, and he lived 750 years before Jesus was born. Isaiah lived at a time when Godís people were not very friendly towards God. In fact, they were being very unfriendly to God. So God gave Isaiah a special message to give to his people.
(Remind them of the messages they would have sent to a friend.)
Well, the message that God sent to Isaiah, said to the people, I am going to send someone to you, someone who is very special to me. And even though you are all being so unfriendly to me, he will still care for you, he will do things so that you and I can be friends again.
Isaiah said to the people, ďHe will not break a crushed reed, he will not even put out a weak flame." (See Isaiah 42:3).
Do you suppose that Isaiah was speaking about reeds and flames? Or do you think maybe he used them as illustrations of something else? Yes, thatís right, something else. He used them to illustrate different kinds of people.
In the days when Isaiah lived, reeds were a wee bit like our disposable things, and the weak flame was like the things that need attention.
Reeds were used for all sorts of things. (Flutes, measuring rods, or for carrying stretchers.)
Today, we use them in our gardens to prop up a plant. But, I bet if we asked some of the grown ups what they remember the canes being used for theyíll tell us something quite different! At one time they were used in schools in Scotland to smack children!
But these reeds didnít last very long, and when they got a crack in them the people would just throw them away, the way we throw away paper plates and disposable diapers. (Break the cane over your knee.)
And then the lamp, Isaiah said that Jesus would not put out even a weak flame. (Explain how these lamps worked and the difficulty in getting it to light up again without starting from scratch.) When the oil in the lamp began to go down, the flame would begin to smolder, and it was difficult to bring the flame back by adding oil. The oil would have to be added very carefully to work properly. So often it would be easier to just start again with a fresh wick and oil. Well, sometimes people donít think that itís worth the effort to mend a friendship, so they just give up on it and start new ones. Isaiah was telling the people that Jesus would never give up on them, no matter how bad they had been, no matter how much they had ignored God. Jesus would have time for them. He would do whatever it takes to get their friendship with God back on track. Do you know what Jesus has done so that we could be friends with God? The Bible tells us that He died on the cross for us. The punishment that we deserve, he took on himself. (See Isaiah 53:5).
Isnít it wonderful to think that God always wants to be our friend? No matter how bad weíve been, no matter how much weíve ignored Him, he wants to forgive us and be our friend again. You know boys and girls, thatís why Jesus came into the world, so that we could have a real friendship with God and we would be able to experience Godís blessings in our lives. God wants to give us his blessings, so that we can be really, really happy.
Now just think about it, if God treats us like that, shouldnít we treat one another the same way? Perhaps thereís someone youíve fallen out with, or ignored, or even been nasty to; maybe sometime this week you could go and speak to that person again, and do your best to make up with them.
Copyright 2001 Terry Taylor
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