The children of the church really do "lead" me sometimes. This Sunday's children's sermon was one of those times. For the children's sermon I had planned to talk about olive branches as a symbol of peace, and to present two olive wood candle sticks, to sit on our communion table with the olive wood nativity that the church displays every year.
I bought the candlesticks at the meeting of the Israel/Palestine network in Chicago in November. They were made in Palestine, and imported by a "fair trade" organization which helps Palestinian craftspeople make a decent wage in that economically wrecked part of the world.
Now here was my surprise "leading" from the children: The candlesticks were wrapped in an Arabic language newspaper. As I unwrapped the package, I commented on how it looked like one of our newspapers, but "can you read any of it?" And they immediately picked up on the beauty of the Arabic letters. They asked how to read it, "Left to right? Is it backwards? Are these letters like our ABC's? Which one is A?" Etc. So we looked at the paper more closely. It was the sports page, and there was a big picture of some people playing soccer. Now, THAT we could understand. And some of the ads had pictures of families, and children. And we could see that this one was about the same age as one of our kids, etc.
The kids picked up on how the people were like us. Even though we didn't know what the words said, it was a newspaper, just like our newspapers. People like our moms and dads probably read this newspaper, clear across the world from us. That piece of newspaper conveyed so much of how related we are. And the children got a feel for the humanity of people about which we often feel nothing, except perhaps fear. It was a beautiful children's sermon. And the children preached it for me. That's what I love about the Holy Spirit.