Tag Archives: Acts of the Apostles

Welcome!

joyfor Sunday, June 8, 2014
Day of Pentecost
Year A
lectionary focus: Acts 2:1-21
note: You can certainly adjust this sermon to fit a mission trip your congregation knows; to create a size comparison between the mission area and your local area, check here for country size and here for US state size.

Welcome!

Recently my daughter Cherry went on a medical mission trip to Uganda. Uganda is a country on the continent of Africa. Uganda is about the size of Alabama and most of Mississippi together…so it is a tiny country. Yet Uganda has five times the number of people as we do in the same space! So, Uganda is a tiny country with lots of people! It took Cherry 15 hours by airplane and 6 hours by bus to get where they were going. Some people in Uganda speak English, by many people don’t. The official language is Swahili, but most people don’t speak that either. In fact, in this small area there are forty different languages spoken! That means that talking can be difficult! My daughter’s group had several translators with them. Each translator knew several languages, but each one did not know all forty languages. Sometimes her usual translator would say…I don’t know that language, I’ll go get one of the other translators. Understanding people’s stories took time, but they found a way. Cherry said the communications were another amazing aspect of the trip.

Today on the church calendar is called Pentecost. We get this name from another language, the Greek language: pentecost means fiftieth. We call today Pentecost because it has been fifty days since Easter. Pentecost sounds much prettier and fancier than saying Holy Fiftieth Day!  In our Bible story today, we hear how on this fiftieth day, the disciples received the Holy Spirit. The disciples were all together when a great force came over them. And then each was able to share God’s love in one of the many languages of the people in the community. The disciples were speaking in the languages of the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs! With the Holy Spirit, the disciples were able to speak about God’s great deeds in many different languages!

Nowadays we think there are almost 7000 different languages in the whole world. Sharing information and stories can be difficult with so many languages, but our Bible story today tells us that we should not let differences in language prevent us from sharing God’s love with each other. Everyone is invited to be part of God’s family. All are welcome. Or we could say Bienvenidos! Or Willkommen! Or Merhba! Or as they say in the Rutooro language in Uganda: Oraire ota! (oh-rah-EE-ray OH-tah) Give that one a try; say after me:  Oraire ota!  (Oraire ota!) Welcome! Welcome! We are all welcome to God’s love.

The church is a community of people. Not just the people here, but people everywhere. God calls us and equips us through the Holy Spirit to share with others and build God’s church around the world.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
The world is full of Your people.
Thank You
for helping us
find ways to share
Your love
near and far
with each and all.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

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Being Squirrely

IMG_4202for Sunday, June 1, 2014
7th Sunday of Easter
or Ascension of the Lord Sunday
Year A
lectionary focus: Acts 1:1-14

Welcome!

Do you know about squirrels? They are cute little animals. Can you make a squirrel face? (Make a squirrel face and hold your hands up in front of your heart.) The thing about squirrels though is that some of them are not very smart. Have you ever seen one crossing the street? In front of a car? Now some squirrels will hurry on across and get out of the way. But some squirrels will stop and stand up and just watch the car coming. And when they finally do something, well, it is too late. In my family, we say that when a squirrel is standing in this dangerous situation that he is holding his hands in front of his heart to see if his heart is still beating, to see if he is still alive; and since he is just standing there in front of the oncoming car…well…then…he is usually no longer alive. Those squirrels just stand there watching, doing nothing.

In our Bible story today from the Book of Acts, some of Jesus’s friends get caught just ‘standing there.’ They have been in a situation where they are confused and so they just stand there, like statues, like squirrels in the road. Then two angels come to them and basically say, “Don’t just stand there; do something!” Now I don’t think the disciples were checking to see if their hearts were still beating, but this is what I learn from this story: sometimes even the best of us can get stuck, can get frozen, can just stand there watching. But God calls us to be people of action, to be people who do. Don’t just stand there watching, set forward and help someone. Don’t just stand there watching, step forward and smile at someone. Don’t just stand there watching, step forward and learn from someone. Don’t be a squirrel checking for your heartbeat. God calls us to do His work, to share His love. We are not here just to watch; we are here to do.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for squirrels.
Thank You
for watching over us.
Help me
to do Your work,
to share Your love.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

Sit Here By Me

table

photo by Bill Woodruff

for Sunday, April 28, 2013
5th Sunday of Easter
Year C
lectionary focus: Acts 11:1-18; John 13:31-35

Good Morning!
Happy Easter!

When I was in high school, the tables in the lunchroom were separated: the nerds sat at their tables and the popular people sat at their tables. Fifty years ago in our country, restaurants were separated…white people ate at certain restaurants and black people ate at others. In Bible times, Jews could not eat with Gentiles. Seems like for thousands of years, we’ve been having problems with who can sit together at the table. Whenever different people have tried to share tables, other people freak out.

Our Bible story today reminds us that God’s table is big enough for everyone. Peter has just come back from a trip. Some of his friends are giving him a hard time because he ate with “those” people. (use the air quotes to make the point) But Peter patiently shares that “those” people are their neighbors. I wonder if you remember what Jesus taught about neighbors…Yes, Love your neighbors as yourself. Jesus also said, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

Obviously, love is a lesson the world is still learning every day. And love is a lesson we practice each time we come to the Lord’s table for communion.* Here we see that God welcomes each and all of us: tall or short, young or old, fancy or regular, (use other differences that fit your congregation, like in my area we would say Auburn or Alabama)… God does not let our differences prevent us from sharing His table. Therefore, let us praise God together! And let us remember that whether here at church or at school or anywhere in the world, we can come together with different people because we are all neighbors. God loves us and our neighbors. And just like God loves us, we are to love one another.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for sharing Your table
with me.
Help me
to share tables
with the neighbors I meet
here
there
and everywhere.
Amen

*If your church does not do communion often or the children do not participate, substitute ‘God’s House’ or ‘Church’ in place of ‘His table.’

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

Praying Without Words

For Sunday, May 27, 2012
The Day of Pentecost
lectionary focus: Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27

Good Morning!

We are each doing something right now…without really realizing it. We are breathing. But there are different kinds of breathing. Everyone take in a deep breath. Now let it out fast. That particular kind of breath is called a sigh. Do it again. Breathe in. Breathe out. Usually we sigh when we are tired or sad or not feeling well. But sometimes we sigh when we are happy and comfortable and feeling very well. Sighing is a way of breathing that also speaks our thoughts and feelings without saying words.

Today is Pentecost and we celebrate the Holy Spirit. In our Bible story, we hear how the Holy Spirit came into the world like a rushing wind and the disciples were filled with words of wisdom to preach and pray. But sometimes, for us, we don’t know the right words to say. This is when the Holy Spirit upholds us. As the Bible says, the Holy Spirit helps us speak with sighs too deep for words. When we are so sad we don’t know how to pray to God, the Holy Spirit helps us sigh. When we are so happy we don’t know how to thank God, the Holy Spirit helps us sigh. And God understands all the unspoken words that fill our sighs and showers us with His love. Sighing is a way of praying that speaks our thoughts and feelings without saying words.

So the next time, you are not sure what to say, pray with a Holy Spirit sigh and God will know what you mean and what you need.

Will you say a prayer with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it back.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You for words.
Thank You for prayers.
Thank You for prayers without words.
And with a big, happy sigh
(sigh)
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

He Is With Us Always

for Sunday, May 20, 2012
7th Sunday of Easter
Ascension Sunday
lectionary focus: John 17:6-19 and Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11
note: The lectionary for the Ascension falls on Thursday, but many churches will choose to focus on the Ascension during the Sunday service. Following that approach, I have crafted this sermon to lead into next week’s celebration of Pentecost. As I noted earlier, this week’s sermon can also be used to celebrate graduates in your congregation. Adapt this sermon for graduates (their turn certainly is now) or meld this sermon’s lectionary with And Come Back.

Good Morning! Alleluia!

I have an older sister. When I was your age, my sister, being older, always got to go off and do things, and I, being younger, was left behind because I was too young. I can’t tell you how many times I sat on the steps at my house watching my sister go to this party or that movie or whatever. My mom would sit beside me and tell me that it is always hardest to be left behind and that my turn would come.

In our Bible story today, we start the transition from Easter to Pentecost. On the glorious day of Ascension, Jesus who has risen from the dead now goes to Heaven to reign in God’s Kingdom. And again, the disciples are confused: What? First, they thought they had lost their friend Jesus when He died on the cross. Then He came back. Now He is leaving them again?

No. This is the indescribable joy–Jesus is in Heaven, but Jesus has not left us behind. Jesus is with us always.

Before going to Heaven, Jesus called each of His disciples to go forth and share God’s love. They were not left behind–they were sent out. And so it is with us. Jesus calls each and all of us to go forth and share God’s love. You are not too young; you have not been left behind; your turn is now.

Today is called Ascension Sunday because we celebrate Jesus rising into Heaven. Therefore let us also rise to Christ’s call and go share God’s love.

Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it back.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for calling me
even though I am young.
Thank You
for being with me
even though I am young.
Help me
to share Your love
with all those around me
even the young,
even the old.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.

To Be Invited

May 13, 2012
6th Sunday of Easter
Mother’s Day
lectionary focus: Acts 10:44-48
note: Who knew there was such history to Mother’s Day?

Good morning.
Alleluia!
In our Bible stories today, we hear about the early church, about the disciples going forth into the world to teach about Jesus and to share God’s love. In the Book of Acts, after Peter has baptized a group of people, the story says then they invited him to stay for several days.

I started thinking about this word invited. To invite is to ask someone to join you, to welcome someone into your group. In this story, the people were so thankful to Peter that they wanted him to feel welcome and special; they wanted to show God’s love back to Peter so they invited him to stay.

And in our lives, we, too, make invitations. Some are simple invitations…we just ask or make a phone call; some are fancy invitations that we write and put in the mail. We invite people to come play at our house, or to have dinner with us, or to come to our birthday party. I can remember my mother helping me with the invitations to my first spend-the-night party; she helped me to write everything perfectly and then she helped me to make sure each of my guests felt welcome and special.

Here in our church, we, too, invite people. We scoot over, inviting others to sit with us; we invite people to pray with us, to share the Peace of Christ; to come to the table; to join our church family. And when we invite others, we make them feel welcome and special and show God’s love to them.

Mother's Day 1991 complete with mother/daughter dresses!

But what about today? Today is Mother’s Day. All around the world, children are inviting their mom to have a special day with flowers, cards, a fancy meal, playing games. Moms are great; they do so much for us; we are so thankful for them. Let each of us show God’s love and our love for our mom: invite her to your Mother’s Day Celebration and make her feel welcome and special.

Now I invite you to pray with me. (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it back.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for inviting us
to be Your children.
Thank You
for my mom.
Help me show Your love
and invite my mom
so she feels
welcome and special.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.