In Sorrow and in Rejoicing

Open Your Heart

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

As we enter this three-week stretch focusing on Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, we also focus on what I think is one of the key questions of Ordinary Time; namely, how do we live our faith day after day after day?

2 Corinthians 6:2, New International Reader's Version

2 He says,

“When I had mercy on you, I heard you.
On the day I saved you, I helped you.” (Isaiah 49:8)

I tell you, now is the time God has mercy. Now is the day he saves.

New International Reader's Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Stopwatch or cellphone with a timer on it.


What have you done this summer that has been fun? Have you gone to a swimming pool? Have you played outside on a nice warm day? Have you gone to a friend’s birthday party? Does it seem that summer is moving so fast that you don’t have time to do everything you want to do? What other activities have you done this summer? (Allow children to answer.)

Have you ever heard someone say, “Timing is everything”? Timing is important for many of the things we say and do. If you want to say something important to someone, such as “I’m sorry” or “I love you,” you wouldn’t want to wait too long to say it. You wouldn’t want to say, “I’m sorry,” to your mom while she is talking on her phone. No, waiting for a better time or after she ends the call would be better. Raise your hand if you think it would be strange if I wished you “Merry Christmas” today. (Allow children to raise their hands.) It would be very strange to say “Merry Christmas” to people in the summer. It would seem just as weird to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” in September. Those words are meant for certain times of the year.

Certain things happen only at certain times of the year. This summer offers one of those things: the Olympics. In the coming weeks, you will most likely see athletes from many different sports competing. For many, they are trying to beat the Olympic time for being the fastest. In those sports, they are not only competing against one another but also against a stopwatch.

Can you name an Olympic sport that uses a stopwatch? (Allow children to name events.) One of the most popular sports during the summer games is track and field. Those runners are so fast. Do you run fast? (Allow children to respond.) I love to watch the runners line up at the starting blocks. Have you seen them do that? They bend down and put their hands on the ground, and then, as the race begins, they “spring” up and start running. (If you are able, demonstrate a runner’s position as the race begins.) The timer begins, and you can see the seconds moving fast. When the runners cross the finish line, the timer stops immediately. Sometimes the runners are so close that the time, sometimes less than seconds, is what separates the winners from the losers. If a runner didn’t spring off the starting block, he/she would lose seconds off the time, and someone else might beat that runner to the finish line. I wonder what would happen if a runner decided to wait and not spring off the starting block as soon as the race began. What do you think would happen? (Allow children to answer.) That’s right, someone else would win the race. So, in a foot race, timing is everything.

In today’s scripture passage, the apostle Paul says you don’t have to wait for the right moment or a certain time of year to accept and say yes to God’s love. In fact, any and every moment is the right time to do that. When we make ourselves, other people, or things more important than God, we become separated from God. But God offers us the gift of grace through Jesus Christ – all we have to do is receive it. And we can receive God’s grace any time or any place. Grace is the kindness and forgiveness that God gives to people. It cannot be earned. It is truly a gift, offered free to us from God!

God’s grace is something that we can’t earn by doing extra chores around the church. It’s not something that we can save up our money to buy. It’s not something that we gain by being the fastest in a race. No, God’s gift of grace is offered to all God’s children, and that includes you. It’s free for the taking. You don’t have to wait until your next birthday, Christmas, or a certain time of the year. In fact, right now is the perfect time!

I am so glad that God doesn’t have a stopwatch to see who is the fastest. Timing is everything, and Paul reminds us that the time is right and today is the perfect time. So, we should always be ready to “spring” off the starting block to follow Jesus. God’s gift of grace is so awesome that we shouldn’t wait another second. Are you ready? There is no better time than right now.

During our prayer, let’s all place ourselves in the starting position that runners do before the start of a race. (Demonstrate again the positioning of a runner in the starting block. Encourage the children to position themselves similarly.)

On your mark, get set, go!


God, thank you for sending Jesus to show me your love and teach me your ways. Open my heart to receive your wonderful gift of grace, so that I can share it with others. There is no better time than right now! Amen.

In This Series...

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes