Children's Homily for December 18, 2022, Advent 4, Year A: Ask God (Emily Hyberg, Seminarian)
Okay, I want you to raise your hand if you’ve ever been mad at a friend.
I see most of our hands are raised.
Okay, I want you to raise both hands if a friend has ever been mad at you.
About the same, okay.
What usually happens when our friends are mad at us? What do we do when we are mad at our friends? (Wait)
Sometimes we tell them we’re mad at them, Right?
Sometimes we ignore them.
Sometimes we tell them we can’t be friends with them anymore.
You all are doing great, just one more question, have you ever gotten in trouble because someone thought you did something bad, but you actually had permission?
Now, I want you to keep all of those answers in mind as I tell you a story.
One time when I was a kid, my grandmother told me I could move a small vase around in a special dollhouse that she had built, and so I did. But my grandfather didn’t know that, and he got mad at me for moving something he thought I wasn’t supposed to touch.
It felt SO unfair. I was SO mad. And I was SO sad.
I was so mad and so sad I couldn’t explain that actually I was allowed to touch the vase.
So I had to sit in a time-out.
Fortunately, my grandmother saw what happened, and she told my grandfather that he had gotten it wrong—that he didn’t know the whole story. My grandfather listened, so he came and apologized to me.
Well, something kind of like that happened in today’s Gospel story, right? Joseph and Mary are supposed to get married, but before they can do that, Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant with baby Jesus. And at that time and in the culture that Joseph and Mary come from, it was really, really bad for a woman to be pregnant before she was married. So, Joseph is ready to tell Mary that they can’t be friends anymore.
But here’s the thing. Mary hadn’t done anything wrong. Joseph made a mistake. He didn’t know the whole story.
But, God saw that Joseph had gotten it wrong, and so God sent an angel to tell him, “Hey! You don’t know the whole story! God has a plan for Mary and you and the baby Jesus, and it’s a big deal. It’s a story that’s been around for a long time. So you have to make this right.”
And Joseph does something really important. Do you know what Joseph does?
That’s right, he listens. He listens, and he changes his mind and his heart so that what he does is closer to what God has planned for him. We have a special fancy word in the church for when we change our minds and hearts. Does anyone know what that is? (Any parents that can help out?)
That’s right; it’s called repenting—when we change our lives so that it's more like what God wants for us.
So, today’s story about Joseph tells us something really important about what to do when we’re having trouble, like when a friend is mad at us or we’re mad at a friend. We can tell God about it because we know God will listen. And we can listen too. We can see what God might tell us. Sometimes, like Joseph, God might let us know that we’re the ones that got it wrong.
Does anyone remember what it’s called when we talk to God?
That’s right! Praying. We can pray when we’re in trouble. And we can listen to what God tells us in our hearts. And if it turns out that we’re the ones that got it wrong. If maybe we realize that we don’t know the whole story. We can be like Joseph again. We can change our hearts and our minds, and our lives, so they’re more like what God has planned for all of us.
If we’re mad at a friend, maybe we can forgive them. If we’ve told someone we can’t be friends anymore; we can try and be friends again. If a friend is mad at us for something we did, we can say we’re sorry, and if someone is mad at us for something we didn’t do, we can try to explain. And no matter what, God will help us because we told God all about it. Right?
Do we agree? And what do we say in church when we all agree?