Friday, October 16, 2009

Sticks & Saints

Sons & Daughters, last week when we discussed prayer, we learned that not all prayer is worship: some of it's just....what? Talking to someone. Yes...who do you talk to? Jesus. Who else? Saints? Yes, who else? My grandma? Yes, I talk to my Grandma, too. When I talk to her in heaven, am I worshiping her? No! No, of course not. I worship only God. Is my Grandmother in Heaven a saint? Yes? Yes, everyone in heaven is a saint. Am I sure Grandma is in Heaven? Well, you hope she is. Yes, I hope so...I believe so. Is St. Peter in Heaven? Yes. St. Paul? Yes. Joan of Arc? Yes. St Francis? Yes. Yes, I bet he's kissing birds and patting squirrels on the head right now (you girls just love Francis, don'tcha...uh-huh). How do we know Francis is in heaven when I'm not sure about my grandma? The Bible says so? Good guess, but no. God says so? Mmm, sort of, yes.

Class, what's this? A stick. Yes...about how long is it? A yard. See how I've put a couple of marks on it, that makes it a....yardstick. Yes. How about this little stick, how long is it? A foot. Yes. It's a footstick, right? No, it's called a ruler! Oh yeah, a ruler....what was the topic? Saints! Oh yeah.

Since we're talking about saints, here's a word for y'all: canonize. When someone becomes an official saint, they are 'canonized.' Let me draw this for ya..... here's Jesus in the clouds in heaven....couple of angels. Let's see, where are saints' bodies usually? In the ground!'s a buried saint's skeleton. Here's the cannon. So when the person becomes a saint we load the skeleton into the cannon and BOOM, shoot the bones into heaven. That's how they are canonized.....yes, what? That's not true, is it? Umm, no. Thank you for thinking. But they do get canonized. (canon & cannon go on the board.)

Canonize comes from a Greek word, kanna, it means 'stick'. We get our word 'cane' from kanna. A straight stick, which like my yard-stick & foot-stick is good for....measuring stuff! Let's see, pretend we're in the Middle Ages, I'm a ropeseller, and you want to buy some rope.

Daughter, how much rope do you want to buy? Well, c'mon, speak up, how much? Uhh...10 feet? OK, 10 feet. But look, I've decided to use my real foot to measure, which is shorter than the foot-stick. Is that OK with you? No! Why not? Cause it's too short! Too short? It's 10 feet! No it isn't, your feet don't count. Well, I think they do. Who are you to say I can't use my own foot? Oh, alright then, let's be fair: I'll use your foot. No, that's worse!

So what's so special about the footstick? It's a ruler, not a footstick. Oh yeah...what's special about the ruler's foot? It has to do with a king's foot. Yes, that may be about the inches? It's how long a king's nose was. Maybe so...anyone else? An inch is as long as part of the King's thumb. Yes, another definition of an inch was 3 kernels of wheat lined up. So, in medieval England could anyone decide for himself how long a foot was? No! Who decided? No guesses? What's this footstick called? A ruler. So...who made the rules in England? The ruler, the King! Yes, so how come the King gets to decide? He's the King! (That's about as far as 6th graders can take this.)

Yes, the King makes the rules because he has authority. But if I wanted to use shorter feet in my rope business, would the King come straighten me out? Daughter, would you just phone up the King and have him come over? Cuz he's busy in London chopping off his wife's head, he can't get here for at least a week. No....I'd tell the police! Yes, or maybe you'd tell the Sheriff, like the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood. The Sheriff has authority to make me use the right measure. Where's his authority come from? The King? Yes. He runs things for the King using the King's rules. The Sheriff can't say I can use a shorter foot. He mostly enforces what the King already decided. And over the centuries, can the different Kings change the foot to whatever they like? No, it has to stay the same all the time. Right. Even Kings don't have authority to do stupid stuff, they have to maintain what's right and true.

So for the measuring stick to work, it needs an Authority to back it up. And the Authority, the Ruler, needs a Representative to enforce his rules. If we make up our own minds about the rules, the rules are useless. Your foot, my foot, the King's foot; if they all count then I can just throw out my stick.

So what was the topic again.....? Saints. Oh yeah. Canonizing saints. Tell me, what's kanna mean in Greek? A cane, a stick. What kind of stick? A measuring stick. Yes. In English a rule, or a person in charge of rules, or something that never changes, can be called a canon....not a cannon. So when we say a saint is canonized, like the tough-guy St. Joan of Arc, we mean he or she measured up...yes, what? Joan of Arc was a girl, not a guy. Yeah? Well, I still think she's a tough-guy Saint. Anyway, once the Church says a saint measured up, that will never change, just like the length of a foot is unchanging. The books in the Bible are like that, too. They're called the Canon of Scripture, because nobody can ever take any books out or put any in.

In the case of measuring up, canonizing saints, who's the King? The Pope! Good guess, but no. Does a King have a boss? No! And does the Pope have a boss? Ummm....God? Be more specific, please. Is Jesus his boss? Yes. So if the Pope's not the King....? Jesus is the King! Yes, good. King of...? Heaven! Yes, how about something on Earth that Jesus founded? "Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I build my....? Church, church! Yes, before Jesus ascended to heaven he set up His Church. Since he wasn't going to be around in a physical, human way after ascending, he needed a Sheriff to mind things...who would that be? The Pope? Yes, and maybe some deputies since the pope can't be everywhere at once. They'd be the.... bishops? Yes. They have authority too.

So when the pope or the bishops use the kanna, the measuring stick, the rule, to keep the Church in order, can they just do whatever they like? Can they say, "This week we're taking 3 books out of the Bible, and adding 2 new ones?" Ha, no! Right, no more than the President can say a foot will only have 10 inches.

When you have the King's authority, or the President's, or Jesus's, you can only use it to do....what?

What's right.

Yes. And in the Church's case, mostly to enforce what's already been permanently decided....(I wave the kanna), what's been..? Canonized!