Noah Jr. & The Ark: An Earth Day Children’s Message


 

(The following is an Earth Day Children’s message delivered on April 22nd at Asbury Church)

I like to consider myself an out of the box type preacher, and sometimes the best way to do that is with props.     Some folks will loudly criticize the use of props in church, believing that you will only remember the prop and not the story.   If you know me, you know how strongly I disagree.  Seldom does a week pass where there isn’t some random object that takes front and center.

With that said, that group of “haters” would most certainly – and without any doubt – have a HUGE issue with the prop I used on Earth day.    Inside a paper bag, was a collection of two dozen Canadian Earth Worms in all their squirming beauty.    In an instant I had all the kids attention; especially the boys.

(Best Quote of the day?   “We have got the coolest pastor EVER!  He brings worms into church and plays street hockey with us after!” Could children’s ministry be that easy????)

With a mound of worms in one hand, I told my own twist on an old Jewish legend that was told to young children to remind them of the importance of taken care of the earth.

It was a story about Noah’s Ark.   We all know that Noah and his wife were on the ark, but there were more than those two on the ark.   Also on the ark were Noah’s sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  They came with their wives.

One particular legend has it that they also had children that came with them on the ark.   Although the Bible isn’t clear on this, our story takes place with the youngest son of Ham,  Noah Jr.  who was named after his grandfather, of course.

As you can imagine building an ark is hard work.  Everyone worked hard in building and preparing the ark, but the kids probably worked the hardest.    There job was to haul the wood, and the supplies.   They were the manual labor while their parents did all the cool stuff, like measuring, sawing, and hammering.    Sadly, their job got even harder when it started raining

It was the kids that cleaned the stalls.  (Can you imagine the incredible amount of animal poop on the ark?)  They were also the ones to make sure that everyone ate what they were supposed to.   They were the ones to make sure the animals were clean.    They were the ones that made sure the wolves didn’t eat the rabbits, and the tigers didn’t make lunch out of the llamas. 

Of all the kids on board the ark, none took this responsibility more seriously than Noah Jr. Noah Jr was a special kid.   He loved animals more than any of the others.   He wanted to grow up and become a zoologist or zookeeper and take care of animals all on his own.    Seeing this, the adults gave Noah Jr. a great deal of responsibility.

On the day that the flood started, Noah Jr. was given the incredible responsibility of making sure all the animals were safely on the ark.   With a clipboard and a pen, he would check off the animals as they arrived.   

  • Llamas – check.  
  • Aardvarks – Check.  
  • Emus – check.

When he was thought he was all set, he took his clipboard to his grandfather and said they were ready. Noah Sr. scanned the list and said “I think you are missing the most important ones” and with a smile handed the clipboard back to the boy. Panicked the boy scrambled back to the cages.

  • Penguins – check.  
  • Sloths – check.  
  • Giraffes – check.

After a while he was convinced that his grandfather was wrong and went back with the clipboard.   “Grandpa, are you sure?” the boy asked respectfully.    “Yes, I am sure.   You are missing the most important pair” Noah told the boy. He immediately went back to his inventory.

  • Hippos- Check.  
  • Duck Billed Platypus – Check. (Playtipi?)
  • Panda Bears – Check.

He just couldn’t for the life of him figure out what he had missed.   He started to worry that his grandfather had finally gone crazy like all the townspeople had claimed.    He watched the rain grow heavier and heavier.   Finally in a panic and tears coming from the stress, he ran back to Noah Sr. and asked for help. Noah Sr., in a kind and loving voice, smiled at the boy.“I am not crazy, you have indeed forgotten the most important of all, but I will tell you for time is getting short.”

And do you know what was forgotten from the ark?

With the squirm firmly in hand, I raised the worms for the congregation to see.   The boy had forgotten the earth worms.  In a panic, the boy dashed down the gangplank of the ark, reached a patch of now wet grass and started digging.    Finally he scooped up some dirt and mud with a handful of worms and dashed back up and into the ark.   When he made in on board the ark was locked, and the worms safely stowed.

After a while, the boy went to his grandfather and asked why those worms were the most important….

Noah smiled, and said simply…  

“I don’t know why they are so important, that is between God and the worms.”

 ******************* 

They used to tell this story to the young children to remind them that like Noah’s grandchildren they had a responsibility.   They were to take care of the earth, and that included not only the big and beautiful animals like Giraffes and Elephants and people, but even the lowliest like the Canadian Earthworm…  

In the end, God has a plan for us all, and even for the worms.   God has plans, even if those incredibly wonderful plans are between them and God only.

With the story of Noah and Noah Jr as a backdrop, I am sure that we all have heard the story of God putting the rainbow in the sky as a promise to never forsake or forget the world again.    Many people – adults included – believe that is a promise between God and humankind, but it’s not. 

The actual words from Genesis are this:   “I will set my rainbow in the sky, as a sign of my promise between ME AND THE EARTH”.

Obviously the world, the earth, and all of creation is important to God.  In the end, if it’s important to God…then it needs to be important to each of us.    There is no better reminder of that for us than the reminder of Earth Day on a Sunday.

For Earth Day and in the days that follow, I pray that each of us find some small thing to do to show God that we are willing to help take care of the earth too.    Maybe you pick up some trash outside.   Maybe you recycle.   Maybe you be really careful about wasting water or electricity.   As you do that talk to your family about ways you could change things or help make a difference.   

Did you know that one soda can will make it from your recycle bin, back to the grocer’s shelf in 90 days?   Better yet, if one can is recycled it saves enough power to run a television for three hours.    The average American family recycles 150 six packs worth of cans each year.    Imagine what we could do if people of faith started to see creation care as an even more important piece of their faith.

Heavenly father, we thank you for all the wonderful gifts and blessings that you have given to each of us.    Among those many gifts, today we celebrate the gift of our world and our planet.    Help us to realize all there is to enjoy around us, and help us to see how everything is precious in your eyes.

On this day set apart for caring for your planet, help us to remember that as Christians we are called to be stewards of all your gifts, and that includes the earth.   Help us to find ways to practice that stewardship not only today but every day…and for all the gifts you have given to us.

We ask that you continue to bless all of your children, young and old, and may each of us continue to grow in the awareness of your presence and your call in our lives.    In your name we pray, Amen.

 (Pic, by Racineur, Flickr.com, 7/7/2007, Creative Common License)

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