Memory Verse: “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forward, do you see it?”
Items for Preparation
- Go to your garage, your basement, or the nearest home improvement superstore, and get a couple of large nails or spikes. Use some tape or super gorilla glue and fix them together into the shape of a cross.
- Print or have ready for display some of the photos from CCN, described below. Be not afraid, though it’s easy to get off on a tangent discussing the shape of cathedrals, or the meaning of the word “cathedral,” which derives from “seat,” or the difference between Anglican churches and Baptist ones. Alas. These fascinating topics must await another children’s sermon. Just like Scarlet said, “tomorrow is another day.”
Read the adult lesson in the Nurturing Faith print edition and find additional material online.
Please visit the website of The Community of the Cross of Nails, at www.coventrycathedral.org.uk/ccn/. CCN was created as an organization for peace in the wake of destruction during WWII of the Cathedral at Coventry, England. (You remember the town Lady Godiva made famous? Yes! We aren’t going to mention her today. Shh. What a relief. Coventry is much more important for something very meaningful.)
Following the bombing by Nazis of the Anglican cathedral, which burned to a shell, the Vicar was inspecting the damage and found in the charred ruins two of the iron spikes that had been part of the centuries-old structure. The bomb had soldered them into the shape of a cross.
The Vicar set the cross in the place where the church altar had been, and from that moment, he and his parish determined to use their suffering and loss as a springboard for the renewal of peace, even across lines of war. Now The Community of the Cross of Nails is over 70 years old, and still is working for peace worldwide. CCN is a great example of what our scripture is teaching us, and it’s good for everybody to know about it too. This is the story we’ll tell to illustrate the new thing God is doing.
[Display your cross so kids can see it. If you have downloaded photos, or have them queued on your tablet to display, give kids a look now.]
Say: I want to tell you another story about the word “reconciliation” we learned last week. Once upon a time, about 70 years ago, there was a beautiful church full of people who loved God, where they gathered for worship just like we have done today. This was a very large church, the Cathedral, which is a fancy word for the main church in the county. It was in the town of Coventry, in the country of England. It was during the time of World War II – do you know about that war? Germans were fighting the Allies, which includes England and our country. German fighter pilots would fly their planes over to England because it was just a hop, skip and a jump from their airfield, so it was easy to get there. The fighter pilots would drop bombs on towns in England, and people there would have to leave their houses and go down in basements and shelters until the bombing stopped.
One night, while no church folks were in the church at all, some of the fighter pilots dropped bombs and they landed on the Cathedral in Coventry. It started a big fire, which burned the church down. Not much was left, just some of the stones around the where the stained glass windows had been. When the church folks got up and came to church, they cried. It made them sad for their church to be destroyed.
Say: But while the minister of the church was looking around to see if he could find anything that was still not broken, he saw something like this: [hold up your cross again.] It was two of the big nails that had been used to build the church, hundreds of years before. When the bomb dropped, the heat from it melted them and made them stick together, in the shape of a cross. A cross is important to Jesus-followers, isn’t it? When the minister saw this, he stopped crying. His heart got courage. He took the cross and put it up on the burned wall of the church, where the altar had been.
Say: The minister and the church folks remembered the words of Isaiah that we read, when God said to Isaiah, “Look, I’m about to do a new thing, look, now it springs forward, can you see it?” The Coventry church people realized God was already doing a new thing in their hearts, even though their cathedral was burned. They decided to be part of the new thing God was doing: peace.
Say: They started to tell people everywhere about the nails that the bomb had made into a cross. They made themselves into a group called The Community of the Cross of Nails, which is still here today. They told people everywhere, even people who had been enemies in Germany, that God was doing a new thing, taking the hurting of war and making it into the mercy of peace. They told people everywhere, and they still tell people today all over the world, that we can decide to be part of God’s new thing too. Even when we are hurting, or when something bad has happened to us, or especially when we are with people who feel like enemies. We can do God’s new thing: be peaceful. Forgive, and make peace.
Prayer: Say these words after I say them.
O God of Peace,
Thank you for the words of Isaiah.
Thank you for the people of Coventry Cathedral,
Who heard your word and followed Jesus.
Let us be part of the new thing you are doing,
And let us be forgivers and peace-makers,
In Jesus’ name, Amen.