Every couple months or so for my children’s sermon I do something using a bag of M&M’s to illustrate my point. I collectively call these “a sermon in a sack” and not only the kids but the entire congregation looks forward to these since there is always a dish of M&M’s waiting as people leave after church and kids of all ages are encouraged to take some as they leave.
The last time I did a sermon in a sack, the prospects of M&Ms led one adult to join the five children and teenagers as they took their seats in the front pew. Once everyone was in place, I opened the plastic shopping bag I was holding and one by one invited the participants to take a peek inside, starting with the adult.
The bag was empty but most played along making appropriate noises of surprise and anticipation. Not so with the young man sitting on the end who was the last to look. His response upon seeing that the bag was empty was, “Humph,” that was rich with tones of disappointment.
By then the jig was up and I confessed that the sack was indeed empty. I let that confession sink in for a moment and then directed everyone’s attention to the small table at the back of the sanctuary. There in plain sight was a candy dish filled with the missing M&M’s.
I informed the congregation that the candy dish had been sitting there all morning and then asked how many had helped themselves to some candy on the way in. Three brave souls raised their hands. I congratulated the three and assured everyone else that M&M’s would be available on the way out after church.
The point I was making is that God’s blessings are like those M&M’s. They are enjoyed by most and many people look forward to then, and some even count on them. In fact we set aside time in every service to specifically ask for them. It is called prayer.
Many times when people pray they are just going through the motions with no real expectation of them being answered. Day in and day out we miss God’s blessings because we are not expecting them, not looking for them and reluctant to accept them.
John 4:1-15 contains the story of a Samaritan woman who goes to the town well to get some water one afternoon. She came in the heat of the day to avoid the snide comments and dirty looks of the righteous. She came looking for water but encountered a stranger there at the well. She could have quickly filled her bucket and fled back to the comfort of her home.
Instead, like the three who enjoyed the M&M’s on their way into church, she seized the opportunity to receive God’s blessing. She left that encounter not with a bucket full of ordinary water but rather with her heart filled with the living water of salvation.
The good news is that God’s blessings are abundant and freely given, all we have to do is open our eyes and hearts and be willing to see them and receive them.
John R. Fowler is the Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prosper.