THEME: Which is the greatest commandment?
OBJECTS: A football, soccer ball, or basketball. (Choose a sports item that is very popular in your area.)
SCRIPTURE: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:36-39
How many of you like to play sports? What sport do you enjoy playing the most? Football? Soccer? Basketball? Maybe you are like I was when I was your age -- my favorite sport was always whatever season we happened to be in at the time. Well, since we are right in the middle of football season, today I am going to teach you something about football. You will want to pay careful attention, because what I am going to teach you is the very most important part of the game of football.
Do you think I might be planning to teach you about blocking, or tackling? No, those things are important, but what I want to teach you is even more important. I am going to teach you what to do after you score. Sooner or later, you are going to score, and when you do, you need to know how to celebrate!
Some players do a special dance. Others may jump up in the air giving "high fives" to their teammates. No matter how you celebrate, there is one thing that every good celebration must include. You must run around with your finger up in the air so that everyone will know that you are number one! Your team may be behind by a score of 40-7, but you are number one!
Do you know what I think? I think that is the biggest problem in our world today. We all think we are number one and the most important thing in life is our own happiness. Very few of us give much thought to the happiness of other people.
One day Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest. He said that the most important thing was to love God with all your heart. He then added that the next most important thing was to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jesus didn't tell us to love ourselves, he knew that we would do that without being told. But he knew that the only way we could love others as we love ourselves was when our greatest love was for God. When we love God more than we love ourselves, then we will be able to love others as much as we love ourselves.
Dear Father, help us to love you with all our hearts and help us to love others as we love ourselves. Amen.