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Roller skating and the kingdom of God

Pastoral Messages | January 24, 2019

On Sunday, I met up with 120 of my closest friends from church for no other reason than to put on wheeled shoes and wiggle around on a slick surface. That’s right, we went roller skating.

It’s good to switch things up like this. To see the people you normally greet in church with brief handshakes and reserved smiles, now gliding around an illuminated roller rink, lip-syncing Britney Spears.

For me, this is a glimpse of the kingdom of God. Entertain a few of my observations as I build my case.

While still at church, a confident fifth-grader reported to some of her classmates that today she would be going roller skating. I confirmed, “Hey, me too!” and then added, when she said her grandma wasn’t interested in skating, “well, I’ll skate with you.” She was elated (and so was Grandma!).

When we got to the skate park, first, I flopped around the floor and the skating rink with my four year old son, whose skates, I believe weighed more than him. He was frustrated but continued to laugh it off and every time I asked, “wanna quit?” He smiled and said no.

Then, I rolled around with my 2-year-old, whose balance and chill attitude astonished me. I watched her as she braved the rink surrounded by whirling teenagers; giants who towered over her.

But when my kids went home for the naps, that’s when I fulfilled my promise. I skated with my enthusiastic fifth-grade friend for the remaining two hours. Her aptitude on the rink surprised me because she, like Joe, didn’t want to leave; but wasn’t quite ready to release the wall yet. When I grabbed her hand to lead her around the rink, she gripped it tightly. It was only later, when we danced with a man in a chicken suit – sang happy birthday, did the hokey pokey – clapped and flapped to the famous “chicken dance” – that I began to see her loosen up.

At one point, a younger girl, maybe no older than my son, came up alongside me at the rink. “Hi Pastor Kendra!” she said and she grabbed my hand. I did not recognize her, but she knew me, and away we went.

Later when I took a break to rest my weary feet and find some water, I noticed several kids (and adults!) taking a “Skittles break.” Another mom informed me, jokingly, that Skittles were invented to tackle low blood sugar – maybe so!

After my break I glided over toward the rink and that’s when I saw what I wish now I would have captured digitally: Colleague Ann McGlynn, surrounded by refugee children. One on her lap and half a dozen flocked around her, many with ring pops in their mouths. Then Lori Byerly stopped by and pointed out a couple of these kids on the rink, learning to skate.

In the Beatitudes, the intro to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” We can thirst for righteousness in prayer and our hunger can be satisfied for God when we gather in church for fellowship, word, song, meal. But how about – on the rink? Maybe God’s kingdom looks like wobbly legs or unsure feet in retro skates; maybe God’s children can pass the peace during a Skittles break and maybe, just maybe, God is laughing right along with us when we clap and flap to the chicken dance.

-Kendra Thompson, pastor of children and family life

One comment on “Roller skating and the kingdom of God”

  • Linda Creighton

    January 24, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    From grandma, thank you for helping my granddaughter not only learn and grow her confidence in skating, but also in Christ! She has a thirst that only the people at St. Paul can help teach her. I am eternally grateful to the entire staff of Pastors and support staff for all the love of God and generosity shown to myself and my family. Not to mention the memories!! Thanks again, I just can’t do that!

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Malachi 3:1-4

The Coming Messenger 3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[a] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Return to Nazareth 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.