While many of our Anglican friends around the world were focused on Ash Wednesday, we shared Valentine's Day with one of our kid's clubs. We didn't have chocolate (which would have melted in plus 35C heat anyway), but we did share Canadian Laura Secord maple candies. Here's a peek at what we shared after singing "Great Big God," "Sandyland," "Say Say," "Open the eyes of my heart," and the request of "Amazing Grace."
So we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with the Riverview kids club. Not only did I share on forgiveness and God giving us a new heart, but they learned about Canada and maple. Here’s a taste of what I shared (yes, that’s an intentional pun):
It’s February 14. Who knows what today is?? It’s Valentine’s Day! So we are all Jesus’ valentine today. He’s the one who really loves us. Does he love us more than our brothers and sisters do? (Yes) Does he love us more than our mothers and fathers do? (Yes) Does he love us more than our ouma and oupas do? (Yes) Does he love us more than our tantes and ooms do?
We know that Jesus loves us. Does he love people even when they do bad things? (Yes)mmHe does love them but he’s not happy with the bad things they are doing. That makes Jesus sad, and he helps us to forgive when other people may hurt us. They might say mean things, but those mean things aren’t who you are. They may say you’re slow or stupid. But, they are just saying bad things. Please don’t believe them. Jesus will deal with people who do bad things.
Sometimes when people say bad things like that, their hearts are like a stone. We call that having a hard heart. (Show a rock).
Do you see how hard that rock is? If you hit that rock with your hand, it would hurt. It also doesn't breathe and it's really heavy. It looks like it doesn't feel anything, but it hurts the rest of you. That’s what a hard heart that can feel like inside you. It can be full of hurt, anger and feeling alone. When you have a hard heart, you can’t feel how other people love you. All you feel is hurt.
Today we’re going to learn that God can heal our hearts with his love. He can change hurt hearts and stone hearts into love hearts. God loves us like this heart (Show a red paper heart).
But let’s pretend that this heart is as big as Worcester - maybe even as big as the province of Western Cape. Have you noticed on the map of our province that it's in the shape of a heart? That's really special. But do you know what's even more special?
God loves so much that he died to take away all the bad things in our hearts – things we do wrong, things we’ve thought, or when we don’t forgive those who hurt us. We can’t STAY angry at people who hurt us. We need to forgive them.
But when we ask God to forgive us of our own bad things, we can ask God for a new heart too.
When we have HIS heart, we can forgive. God helps us. Then he gives you a new heart, full of his love. It’s like he fills your heart with SO MUCH sweetness that you want to dance or sing. So he puts his heart inside you and me. He gives us joy, even if we have a bad day. So he HEALS you by giving you a new heart.
If God’s love could be a flavour, do you think it would it be sweet? It says in the Psalms that God’s words are sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103) Tony and I brought something for you all the way from our country Canada that is sweet. Let me tell you about Canada.
Here is the Canadian flag – it has a maple leaf in the centre of it. (show the Canadian flag) The maple is a tree in Canada that has a special juice, or sap at the end of our winter.
They boil that juice down and make maple syrup. Some people here in South Africa have syrup like that on pancakes. And if you boil the syrup even more, you get maple candy. So we brought some of the maple with us that you can try. Think of the sweetness like God’s love that he wants to pour into your heart. And we found that there is a special tree in heaven. It’s called the tree of life. The last book in the Bible, is the book of Revelation. It talks about that tree. It says the leaves of that tree are for the healing of the nations.
My country, Canada is meant to be a place where nations are healed in God’s love. But you can have that healing right here in South Africa. God’s promise is life. God’s promise is his sweet love and Jesus died for us. We can receive that promise by saying yes to Jesus.
So we have some candy made from those maple trees. We just wanted to share that God’s love is sweet as we give you a special sweet. God had you in his heart even when I chose these candies for you in Canada. Think about that. He loves you. And so do we. He wants to give you hearts like his heart, instead of hearts of stone. Would you like to have God's heart?
Lord Jesus, I thank you for our friends here in this Riverview club. I ask that you surround them with your protection, and fill them with your love. Speak to their hearts and show them in many ways that you love them. They are your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen
(Note: The maple candies were popular, and one of our boys wanted to keep his for show and tell at school. It's pity we didn't have a spare Canadian flag to loan him to go with it).
May Jesus be your Valentine too.
Love, Laurie-Ann (and Tony).
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple are Canadian missionaries and can be reached at email@example.com
48 Hooggelegen, Langerug, Worcester 6850 Western Cape, South Africa
Johan and Marie Fourie, Iris Western Cape Base, PO Box 765, Robertson 6705 Western Cape, South Africa