At our church, Emmanuel Lutheran in Hermitage, it’s not uncommon to see some unusual items up near the altar when we arrive for worship. We know they are probably props for Pastor Enko’s Children’s Message. However, on a recent Sunday the spread was more lavish than usual. There was a six foot table covered with all kinds of fruit, Cokes, candy, Oreos and other snack items children love to eat.
And the surprise wasn’t over. After Pastor invited the twenty or so children up to the altar area he asked, “Who wants to play “Choose, Win or Lose?” After selecting five volunteers he quickly produced several crisp, new Twenty Dollar Bills. “Okay, kids,” he said, “You each get to pick one snack item from the table for your very own.” Eager little hands quickly picked their favorites.
He then asked each to hold up the selected item. Those that had selected a healthy choice, were declared winners and told they would stay in the game. They were then asked if they would rather keep their chosen item or have a $20 bill. All three winners took the money.
Pastor Enko then spoke briefly with the children about the hungry children for whom our church provides a daily noon meal at the Lutheran School in Pont Sonde, Haiti. He told them that Jesus wants us to help others and that the $20 in their possession was theirs to do as they wish. They could use it to buy something for themselves (and nothing would be wrong with that) or give it to Trinity/HOPE to be used to provide meals for those hungry children. The choice was theirs.
One gave it immediately; one agonized but decided to feed the children. However for one it was a real struggle. He vacillated between wanting to give it and wanting to use it for things for himself. Finally, he made his decision: He wanted to bless others more than keep it for himself.
Pastor thanked them, commended their choice and told them they now could have any item on the table. As they quickly gathered up their winnings, I thought about how this demonstration so accurately mirrors our lives and choices at times. We sometimes agonize over focusing on self or helping others. However, those decisions to bless others in Jesus name never fail to be rewarded.
The children were dismissed and marched off to Children’s Church singing, “I’m in the Lord’s Army.” Yes you are, children, yes you are.