Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Fourth Sunday in Lent (A), March 26, 2017 - 1 Samuel 16:1-13 and John 9:1-41

1 Samuel 16:1-13

Samuel Anoints David
Wall painting from the Dura Europus Synogogue
Iraq, 3rd C. 

The Name of the Program

How curious we have the names
Of three who did not fit the claim
That one of Jesse's sons would be 
The king, by Yahweh designeed.

Thus Samuel has to turn away
Eliab, who, though he displayed
The stature of some handsome king,
Had not the heart from which grace springs.

Nor Abinadab, nor Shammah
Elicited some grand "Aha!"
From Samuel, nor the other four
Would be where Yahweh's spirit poured.

But by this boy did Yahweh name
His program, which we still proclaim:
You never know, despite your plans,
Where love for you, and all, might land. 

Scott L. Barton

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

+  +  +

John 9:1-41

Rembrandt, Jesus Heals the Blind Man, 
pen and brush drawing, ca. 1655-60, 
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen


John says the man was blind from birth,
Which means they thought he had a dearth
Of goodness, or, perhaps his parents
Were the ones who had been errant -
For otherwise, who can explain
Conditions we find inhumane?

But Jesus isn't into reasons,
Or int'rested in open season
On those calamity befalls;
Instead, his actions always call
Attention to the acts of God
We find so hard to see, and odd.

If anything, let him remind
Us if we miss God's love, we're blind.

Scott L. Barton

As [Jesus] walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight." They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see." Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet." The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." The man answered, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him." Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped him.

Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Third Sunday in Lent, March 19, 2017 - Romans 5:1-11; also Exodus 17:1-7 and John 4:5-42

Christ and the Woman of Samaria 
Probably by a student, and retouched by Rembrandt
Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Romans 5:1-11

The Way Forward

Since we are justified by faith,
We now have peace, through Christ, with God;
Can you believe that someone died
So you might know, though being odd,
You're even loved more than you thought?
I do not "get" we're saved from wrath;
But if some gratitude I learn,
Then that will do - and be my path.

Scott L. Barton

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

+  +  +

Exodus 17:1-7 and John 4:5-42

Three Drinking Limericks
(The limerick form probably comes from County Limerick in Ireland; so I thought of the above style as we're near St. Patrick's Day.)

"Is the LORD now among us, or not?"
Cried the thirsty and quarreling tribe;
Thus when Moses told God,
The response, "Use the rod!"
Meant by striking the rock, they imbibed.

"Woman, give me some water to drink,"
Jesus, to the Samaritan said,
But if drink he received,
We can't tell, or perceive -
What we learn is, she drank in, instead.

Thus we hear that refreshment is giv'n,
When for water or love we might thirst,
When we think it's our job
To prove how we love God,
We're supplied with good news quite reversed.

Scott L. Barton

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?" But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?" So Moses cried out to the Lord, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." The Lord said to Moses, "Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink." Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"


So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water." 

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!" The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?" Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" They left the city and were on their way to him. 

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." 

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done." So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world."

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Second Sunday in Lent (A), March 12, 2017 - Psalm 121 and John 3:1-17

Nicodemus Visiting Jesus
Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1899
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Psalm 121

The Funeral

How many know these words by heart,
With memory of open graves,
And lives, so rudely torn apart,
All looking for some word to save.

Not make it better, or remove
The grief and tears by something said,
Nor some far afterlife to prove
By news of rising from the dead;

But a connection make to those
Who also looked for help above,
And finding mountains lacking, chose
To trust that all was made in love.

For only love can heal the heart,
Can keep you well, can be your shade,
Can keep you, e'en when you depart -
Is even why you dared to pray.

Scott L. Barton

I lift up my eyes to the hills-- 
  from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, 
  who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; 
  he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel 
  will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; 
  the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, 
  nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil; 
  he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep 
  your going out and your coming in 
  from this time on and forevermore.

 +  +  +

John 3:1-17 (see also John 7:45-53 and John 19:38-42)


Nicodemus knew
That Jesus was on to something
With all that talk
About being born from above,
Even though he hadn't a clue
Of the wind's comings and goings.
Thus he went to that meeting
Where the blowhards
Wanted to do Jesus in,
And tried to talk some sense into them.
I wonder where he got such courage,
Going again by night,
The weight of the world on his back,
Or at least a hundred pounds,
To bury his rabbi,
Winded by the law of love?

Scott L. Barton

 John 3:1-17 (with a reference also to Numbers 21:9)


It's not just at a football game
Where you will see the sign
That God so loved the world, God gave
God's son; for now "divine"
Means whatsoe'er is given from
The bottom of the heart;
And when that comes, like wind, unplanned,
You'll find your life can start
Again! You're born as if anew,
Since you've looked up to see
The love which from all poison now
Has set the whole world free.

Scott L. Barton

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

"Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."

Monday, February 27, 2017

Bonus Poem: Surprise Endings

We thought that La La Land had won,
But Moonlight's moment in the sun
Was yet to be! 
Which goes to prove that it behoves
You never to decree
With absolute finality
You know the score, or how things end.
Elections, Super Bowls and Oscars nights
Serve to portend the truth that 'though we might
Think sometimes everything is said and done,
The world has great capacity to stun.

Scott L. Barton

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The First Sunday in Lent (A), March 5, 2017 - Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11


Marc Chagall: Adam and Eve
Musée du Message Biblique Marc-Chagall
Nice, France

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7

What's Really Original Here

The LORD God governs by the seat of his pants
In this passage, or so it seems.
He creates the man, and then
Has the idea to put him in the garden.

Why didn't he create him in the garden in the first place, and save a step?

He commands the man that he may eat of every tree.
Oh, wait, he thinks. Maybe not.
Scratch that idea of eating from the tree 
Of the knowledge of good and evil. 

So why did he start out with "every," anyway, so he had to backtrack?

God comes up with the brilliant punishment 
Of death, not just someday, but on that day,
The day when the man might eat from the tree
That's now forbidden.

What kind of God issues idle threats, anyway, unless he's just making it up?

The text doesn't absolve God from responsibility, either:
He's the one who made a crafty wild animal.
Plus (before the invention of Dr. Doolittle),
One who talks! And is understood!

Why create a talking, crafty animal in the first place? 

Apparently, God is protective of his place in the scheme of things.
At least (if the serpent knows the score)
God would prefer the man not be like him,
Which means, knowing good and evil.

Okay, the obvious, now: So why make that tree in the first place?

Now, before she has the knowledge of good and evil,
The woman sees that the fruit is good for food. 
And was a delight to the eyes,
And was to be desired to make one wise.

Does she have any say in the matter? Whence delight? And who is the subject of that last passive phrase - unless it's God?

Apparently, the man, not quite as quick-witted, didn't see the things the woman did.
He was with her, but maybe he was wondering
How all of a sudden he got to be this woman's husband,
Without benefit of clergy, and all.

And how could he be a husband (and she a wife?) if they didn't know a good thing when they saw it yet?

They eat the fruit, and their eyes are opened.
And all of a sudden they get the concept of nakedness!
And sewing! And metaphor!
(I mean, presumably, nobody had woven loincloth yet!)

There are way too many questions here.

Why do we have to do backflips to make sense of this tale? 
Why spoil it with something nowhere to be found in the text?
Why not call it original relationship?  Because, really. 
Isn't that what this new, astonishing God wants with you and me, a little give and take?

A little, well... love?

Scott L. Barton

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Matthew 4:1-11

When the Spirit Drove Jesus to Have His Retreat

When the Spirit drove Jesus to have his retreat,
It was hardly a route that you'd call Easy Street,
For the things that he saw when he got there were spare,
Such as no food in sight for a forty day prayer!
Then Old Satan arrived with a tempting repast:
"Turn these stones into bread - or have you been miscast?"
Deuteronomy, then, was what Jesus recalled,
When the writer tells Israel their daily haul
Of the manna was given so they'd always know,
(And not only in places and times long ago)
That it's not just by bread that we find we're restored,
But by every word from the mouth of the Lord;
Next, the devil took Jesus way up to the top
Of the temple, where there, it's as if they talked shop!
Yes, the devil quotes scripture, in this case, a Psalm,
To which Jesus responds, with a certain aplomb,
- Deuteronomy still on his mind - that a test
Of the Lord surely misses the point that we're blessed
By the places we've been with the Lord as our guide,
Giving all that we need, since by love, God provides!
Then the tempter took Jesus to see from up high
All the kingdoms below, and then added his lie
About having it all, if for him, he'd declare;
But again, Deuteronomy calls us to swear
Our allegiance to God, and the Lord only serve,
Since for freedom, by grace, have our lives been preserved;
Now the devil was bested, and angels arrived
And they waited on he whom our spirits revive;
Thus we see here in Jesus the road that he took,
Which he did on his own, but he did by the book.

Scott L. Barton
(Written with Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) also in mind, born 3/2/1904, who often wrote in rhyming anapestic tetrameter. Think Yertle the Turtle, tempted to get way up high!)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written,

'One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. '"

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

'He will command his angels concerning you,'
and 'On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"

Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Transfiguration Sunday, February 26, 2017 - Matthew 21:1-9 (10-21). A hymn for worship.

Raphael: The Transfiguration
Crucified Lord Who Rose So We Might Live 
Scott L. Barton (2014)              John Bacchus Dykes (1861)

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
After six days, you took them up the mountainside,
There a new defining, in your face all shining,
You, our new Moses, ever here abide.

We have come before you, seeking to adore you,
In this sanctuary, our songs to you we raise,
Your word still astounds us, grace for all surrounds us,
Our love for you, and all, our greatest praise.

There is no delaying, for we hear you saying,
"Follow where I go,-and cure the sick and heal the lame;
Folk of every label, welcome to my table,
Fear not, by faith, my love to all proclaim."

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Now we go returning, out to the world you give;
Traveling together, through all kinds of weather,
Crucified Lord, who rose so we might live!

Scott L. Barton

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Bonus Poem for the kids for this Sunday, based on the Matthew text

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,
Makes the whole world blind,
A better weapon you can use
Is always keep in mind
That you are still a child of God
No matter what your pain,
And so's the other person, too,
Although I can't explain
Just why that's true! But God loves more
Than you or I can guess,
And when we all can learn that fact,
Is when we'll all be blest.

Scott L. Barton

Print the picture on the front of little cards, with the poem on the back.  Put your name and/or the church's name at the end. Talk about how hard it is when someone hurts you not to want to hurt them back in the same way.  Read them the poem and finish by giving every child a card.

Have fun!