Post Author: Rev. Alexis D. Vina
The Gospel According to Rev. Lexi D. Vina are fictional tales based on the real lives of young clergy women, weaving in the wisdom of our favorite authors.
OK, so it was a cheesy children’s sermon anyway. Though most children’s sermons—or at least the ones I give—come that way, this was particularly so. But it was Easter—my first ordained Easter!—so amidst all the preparations for Holy Week services, and especially my much-anticipated Easter sermon, I grabbed the first half-decent object lesson I found. At least the adults would like it.
For $2.99 I bought a foam brick at a craft store and stuck candles in.There were regular candles on the left and right, and a trick candle smack dab in the middle. When it came time in the service I marched to the front of the chancel and confidently called, “I would like to invite all the children to join me for the children’s sermon.”
“The Bible says that Jesus is the light of the world,” I told the children, pulling out my brick. “The light shining in the darkness.” I took out a match and lit the middle candle. “But do you know what happened to Jesus on the cross?” The tiny hands of our three budding theologians shot into the air.
“Jesus died on the cross!” shouts Susie smiling.
“That’s right, Susie,” I replied, lighting another match. “Two criminals were hung with Jesus, one on his right, one on his left.” I lit the other candles. “And Jesus died.” I looked out at my unsuspecting audience.“Who would like to blow out the candles?”
My question is met with a sea of hands. Timmy got the nod, leaned forward, and blew with all his strength. “You killed Jesus!” I said, sounding far more accusatory than I intended. For a moment, Timmy looked terrified—but just as all seemed lost—the flame came back!
“Look!” I showed the kids. “Although people killed Jesus, he came back from the dead because nothing can put out the light of Christ.” I believe this was really directed at the adults as the children were no longer paying attention. Instead, they were furiously trying to kill Jesus again. With much enthusiasm, they were blowing at the Jesus candle between spurts of laughter. I put the brick aside and began our prayer. As the teachers walked the children out for Sunday school, the kids were still trying to get at the Jesus candle. I walked back to my seat, licking my thumb and forefinger and calmly snuffing Christ.
The service continued with singing, the prayers of the church, and the offering. I stepped into the pulpit to prepare myself for the first Easter sermon I would deliver in Corinth. I cleared my throat to focus my energy on the words of hope, joy, and everlasting life I needed as much as these people I was learning to love. I launched into the sermon with energy and gusto until something started to smell. It smelled like something I had whiffed a train ride through the Alps as we cruised down the mountain and the brakes worked harder. The smell of something burning… Maybe… Foam burning?
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see it. There, where the Jesus candle had been, a terrible brown and black stain was growing with a hole in the middle. And a thick cloud of smoke was rising from it.
Instinct took over. “Excuse me,” I said to the congregation, then leapt from the pulpit and grabbed the brick. I turned to the closest face I trusted, a sweet mom of one of the kids in the youth group.
“Go put this in water!” I shouted in a whisper. I could see the eyes of the whole congregation on me. “Thank you,” I said awkwardly.
There was an awkward pause where it seemed the congregation or I should recognize what had just happened. I ignored this impulse and continued with the rest of my sermon hoping that joy and everlasting life did come through my words when the burning smell was still penetrating the room. It was obvious that we were all failing at this game of pretending.
People in the back were holding back giggles. Those in the front were trying not to gag. The choir was particularly affected. And when I finally finished my words of joy and everlasting life, the final anthem sounded choked. As I shared Easter blessings with visitors and members in the narthex, someone had the wisdom to air out the church. Of course, this didn’t allow me to escape the comments of the new pastor exposing the choir to carcinogens and attempting to burn down the sanctuary on Easter.
Amidst all of my stress and preparation, trying to find the perfect words to convey the message of Easter, I should have just listened to, trusted, and heeded the advice of my simple children’s sermon: nothing can put out the light of Christ. Well, nothing except the huge bucket of water I found next to my chair in the chancel at the second service.
The Rev. Alexis Daphne Vina is a 30-year-old recently divorced woman serving God in a suburban context. Having recently been called to Corinth, Lexi navigates through the joys and frustrations of ordained young woman.
Some of her stories are based in reality with lots of flair – but most of Lexi's stories are our stories as she tells the stories of various authors doing what God has called us to do.
Image by: Pexels
Used with permission