Pastor David invited the children forward and asked them to gather around the stairs to the altar. As they settled into place, he stepped back to the podium and carefully lifted a fairly large, and obviously heavy, stone and set it down in front of them. “This is a stepping stone,” he said. “Have any of you seen stones like this before?” Most of the heads nodded and a few kids shouted out answers…“yes, in my mom’s garden”…“in the woods near my house”…and similar.
“That’s great,” Pastor David said as he stepped up onto the stone. “Stepping stones like this can be really helpful. Sometimes we’ll find them in streams so we can walk across without getting wet. Sometimes they’ll be on trails to help us step over an obstacle. Or we may just stand on them to reach something that’s too high for us. In other words, stepping stones can be a blessing to us in many ways.”
“However,” he continued as he stepped back down, “this same stepping stone can also be a stumbling block. Just think…if we put this stone in the middle of a dark trail at night…or in the middle of a running track…or even on a bike path…then this same stone that was so helpful in other places could cause someone to stumble and fall. It could even hurt someone.”
“You know, in some ways each of us is like this stepping stone. We have the opportunity to be helpful to one another…to help people through hard times…to be kind to those that need a friend. In other words, we have the opportunity to be a tremendous blessing to those around us. But we also can be hurtful. When we don’t speak kindly to each other. When we tease people who are different than us. When we do things that make others unhappy. When we do these things, then we’ve become a stumbling block instead of the stepping stone God wants us to be.”
“But here’s the good news…it’s up to us. We get to choose whether we’ll be a stepping stone—a blessing to those around us—or a stumbling block. Let’s all go out this week and choose to be a stepping stone.”