I have in my hand this black teddy bear from the Black Bear Café in Madras, not that far from here, which I bought three years ago at the Feast of Tabernacles as a gift for our congregation’s gift swap, and after forgetting to bring it, I kept it as part of my own stuffed animal collection. I imagine all of you are very familiar with teddy bears, right? How many of you have seen the animated movie “Over The Hedge” or seen nature videos about bears in the wild? What is the difference between these two types of bears? At the heart, the difference between the two types of bears is love. Bears in the wild have sharp teeth and claws, and they are known for being very angry and grumpy animals, but teddy bears are furry and fluffy and have no sharp teeth or claws, and they are perfect for hugging. The difference between a dangerous animal that can kill you and a beloved stuffed animal is love, as expressed in the absence of ferocity. Do you all have stuffed animals that you love and care for? What makes a stuffed animal special to you?
The theme of the Preteen camp this year is “Love Bears All Things.” How many of you all have your bibles today? The expression “love bears all things” comes from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 . Who would like to read this passage today? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Thank you for the reading. Do you all think that what is being said here is hard to understand? Love is hard for all of us to understand, but let us look at the stuffed bear we have and it will be a little bit easier to understand. Does your teddy bear get mad at you when you have a bad day? Does your teddy bear brag about how wonderful it is? Does your teddy bear think evil thoughts? Does your teddy bear talk about how bad it is? Does it talk at all? Is your teddy bear selfish? On the other hand, is your teddy bear friendly and cuddly? Is it patient and always there for you whenever you need it? These are ways that teddy bears are stuffed animals of love. I am sure that is true of other stuffed animals besides teddy bears, and they are probably the reason why we have so many stuffed animals in our lives.
But although teddy bears are a good way to show how love works, that is not what the Bible means by bearing all things. How many of you like looking at buildings? Sometimes in front of buildings or on porches there will be posts or columns going from the roof to the floor. How many of you have seen these? [Points out some of them if they are available.] What do you think these things do? What they do is transfer weight from the top of the building, the roof, to the ground. Most of the parts of a building are there for looks, or to keep the rain out, but some parts of the building are there to make sure the building can hold its weight. Without these posts or columns, the roof would fall and we would all be dead. No one would want that to happen, right? In this part of the Bible that we have been talking about, our lives are being compared to buildings, and love is being compared to what holds our lives up. Are there any people who help make life easier for you? Can you think of people who do things for you that you don’t like to do for yourself?
This is not the only place the Bible talks about love bearing things for others like it was a post holding up the ceiling. Let us turn to Galatians 6:1-5 . Who wants to read this passage? It says: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.”
We see a lot of bearing here, don’t we? What does it mean for us? Do you have any ideas why we are to bear the burdens of others so that all of us can bear our own load? Do you all know anything about what a burden is? Here is my backpack. Who wants to try to lift it? This backpack is full of books that I enjoy reading, and my laptop computer, and a music folder, and some other things. See how heavy it is? Would you want to be carrying this all the time? This is a burden. On the other hand, is the Bible that you are carrying or this teddy bear something that is too heavy for you? You know you are carrying something, but it is not something that bothers you or tires you out carrying it. That is what Galatians is calling a load. What these verses are telling us is something very simple and also very practical, something that we can all use in our lives. Have you ever seen people who were struggling with burdens they could not carry in life, people who were really struggling in life? How have you helped them? When you did that, you were helping to carry someone’s burden, so that they could bear their load. Be on the look out for ways that you can help those around you. That is all for today. Thank you for your attention and enthusiasm.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: