Back in 1986, there was a popular book that came out by American minister Robert Fulgham, called "All I ever really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten."
This was the title of his book and was the first essay based on the poem. If you were around in 1986, I bet you remember this:
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.These are the things I learned:
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
In case it's been a while since you have been in kindergarten, or had children in Kindergarten, the first semester of kindergarten was our teacher writing in her weekly report, we are learning how to be kindergartners. We are learning how to be a community. . In essence they are learning social norms and behaviors to be a safe, learning environment for everyone. — Big stuff— which means they can't get up walk around the room without asking, and they can't shout out answers, and they have to take turns, and share, and be kind, and listen, be considerate, take care of their things and clean up after themselves. It's a lot of work, learning how to be a kindergartner.
You could say that the Israelites in our scripture reading today are in kindergarten. They have been slaves in Eygpt their entire lives. Most of them were probably born into slavery and have now memory of ever being free. Now they are free and in the wilderness under Moses and Aaron's leadership and they don't know who to behave or what to do or what is happening. They are in a totally new environment and they start complaining. I don't like this. I am hungry. I want to go back. Now we know that this isn't rational thinking. Going back to slavery is not a better option than being in the wilderness, but it shouldn't be surprising. It's a normal psychological phenomena, for anyone who grows up in unhealthy environments.
It's very hard to get out of them. People have a hard time moving outside of the of the cycle of violence, poverty and drug abuse. It's easier to go back to abusive situations where there is at least there is a feeling of normalcy, than to leave what you know and break out of the cycle. So when the Israelites say they want to go back, its because that is the only life they have ever know and they don't have anything to rely on, out there in the wilderness.
So, God begins their 40 years in the wilderness by providing two things. Later God will provide more rules, we will call the Ten Commandments, but before He provides the commandments, He gives them two things — food and space to worship. He gives them enough food for everyone, just for the day and a day for worship and Sabbath. It's very simple. It's very essential. It's important to point out that God doesn't provide the manna without some parameters. He says here is bread and here is enough bread so that on the seventh day, you will have extra so on this day you can be fully engaged in worship. Thinking back to our kindergartners, it's like he's saying, I know this isn't home, but you are safe here and you will get a snack, and you will have a routine, and you will get safely home. It's very basic, essential to life. Food and connecting to an all knowing God.
Think for a second about how you live your life. Think about what God provides. Do you take what you need, or more than you need? When you see what is on your plate, do you acknowledge that what you are eating is from God? Are you mindful enough to see that God gives you what you need to get through the day. Second, do you practice a routine of worship and Sabbath? I think just like kindergartners needs a routine of the day, we adults do too, we need the ritual of pausing and reflecting of praying and restarting. And this practice of Sabbath, has been to be done in community. Because kindergartners have to learn how to share and be kind and accept people are who are different from them, and so do we.
And this brings us to the second scripture passage, which is so foreign from 2017, I don't know if we can really embrace what Jesus is saying here. In kindergarten kids are keenly aware of what it fair, and we live in
The story from our lesson for today is about a man who owns a vineyard large enough to employ all the day laborers this particular community could supply. Apparently, the harvest is ready and he's anxious to get the grapes out of the field as quickly as possible. And so he goes to the market at the break of day to hire workers for his field.But then he keeps going back all day long, sending more workers to help with the harvest. So far so good.
But When it comes time to paying the workers for their labor, things begin to get strange. The vineyard owner instructs that the workers be paid beginning with the last to be hired and he pays them all the same thing! Those who worked only
1 hour get a full day's wage, just like those who put in a full 12 hours!
And when one of those who had worked all day complained, the employer simply insists that he has a right to be generous with what belongs to him. The story of the workers in the vineyard insists that in the kingdom God envisions, the realm in which God's justice and peace and freedom defines life for all people, there is nothing to eam.[31
In the strange kingdom Jesus envisions, "the last will be first and the first will be last." In this strange kingdom, those who are deemed godless gain entry ahead of those who are supposedly godly and righteous. In this strange kingdom, little children are the example by which we all must measure ourselves. In this strange kingdom, those who serve are the ones who are viewed as great. It is a strange kingdom indeed! How can this kind of kingdom survive in a world where the first are first and the last are last? What was Jesus thinking in advocating this kind of kingdom as the ideal for those who seek to be the people of God?
The same amount of grace is given to people who have served every day of all people are deserving of the same amount of grace. As Desmond Tutu puts it, "There is nothing we can do to make God love us more" and "there is nothing we can do to make God love us less." It is a strange kingdom indeed where there is nothing to earn.
And furthermore, it is not our job to look over God's shoulder and argue with God and say, "that's not fair, He doesn't deserve it." That would be a very kindergarten thing to do. One may say it is also a sinful thing to do.
A couple of weeks ago, we watched from the safety of our landlocked Indiana homes, the people of Houston being rescued from flooding. Hunicane Harvey impacted the rich and the poor, the young and the old, alike, and we were heartened by the stories of neighbors helping neighbors. It didn't matter where people came from, people were people and that what you do when the waters rise. I think the water is always rising for someone and for that reason, we always enter every relationship with grace.
Writer and pastor Max Lucado, serves a large church in San Antonia Texas. He reflected on three lessons that we can learn from Hurricane Harvey:
As you've listened to evacuees and survivors, have you noticed their words? No one laments a lost plasma television or submerged SUV. No one runs through the streets yelling, "My cordless drill is missing" or "My golf clubs have washed away." If they mourn, it is for people lost. If they rejoice, it is for people found.
....Raging hurricanes and swollen bayous have a way of prying our fingers off the stuff we love. What was once most precious now means little; what we once ignored is now of eternal significance.
Think about what matters to you.
Lesson #2: We really are in this together.
We saw, and are seeing, how humanity can come together and help each other. Lifeboats did not discriminate by color of skin. Rescuers did not ask if the needy were Republican or Democrat. Helicopter rescue wasn't offered only to the rich or educated. People came together to help people.
We don't have to have a Harvey to prompt us to help others, however. Someone in your office could use your assistance. They aren't stranded on a rooftop, but they are likely struggling with a decision. Someone in your neighborhood could. use a friend. They didn't lose their house, but, perhaps they lost their way.
Lesson #3:God does not abandon.
What rescuers are doing for Houstonians, God will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a rope into your sin-swamped life. He will rescue, you simply need to d.o what many stranded people are doing—let him lift you out.
Listen. to the lessons of Harvey. Let the storm remind you of the value of relationships, people and, most of all, the promise of heaven.
These are tumultuous times. Hurricanes, Fires, Earthquakes, and that's just the weather. When I feel like I am on unsteady ground, I go back to the fundamentals. To what we hope to learn as children. To remember that God always provides enough for the day, and you need not hoard more than you need, lest someone else receives nothing. Remember that God gave us the seventh day for worship, rest and restoration. Remember that God is not stingy with grace and to remember that the heart things, regardless of our age we are all children of God. Everyone is worthy of love. And everyone can be a good neighbor.
Fred Rogers once said, "is that if somebody cares about you, it's possible that you'll care about others. 'You are special, and so is your neighbor'__________ that part is essential: that you're not the only special person in the world. The person you happen to be with at the moment is loved, too." Amen.