Tag Archives: almsgiving

Advent and Christmas 2016

img_2616for Advent and Christmas 2016.
Revised Common Lectionary Year A.
Narrative Lectionary Year 3.

Greetings!

During the past few Advents, we have highlighted tools we use to prepare for the mystery of Christmas: the Creche, the Chrismon Tree, and the Wreath. This year, we will partner with our Missions Ministry and focus on the Advent Calendar. Whereas with a traditional Advent Calendar doors are opened and a treat is received, our Advent Calendar will invite the people to bring an item each week for Missions. We are still processing the details so edits will be made to this post over the next few weeks…and your comments are always welcome!! Do not hesitate to adjust this series to fit your lectionary focus and the needs of your community.

(Editor’s note: My church has switched lectionary! Edgewood Presbyterian is spending this year exploring the Narrative Lectionary. Created in 2010 by Luther Seminary, the Narrative Lectionary is a four-year cycle and uses fewer but bigger chunks of text each week progressing September to May from Creation to the Early Church. For more information, click here. This is why you will notice both RCL and NL texts listed each week…fortunately, they (kinda) line up thematically for Advent.)

The Basic Outline

Christ the King Sunday: November 20
RC Lectionary: Colossians 1:11-20
N Lectionary: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Since we will be asking the people to bring items each week, we will use this Sunday prior to Advent to introduce the series.

Advent 1: November 27
RC Lectionary: Matthew 24:36-44
N Lectionary: Daniel 6:6-27
Focus Word: Peace
Missions Item: Honey for a local food pantry. Alas, due to health code regulations, this must be store-bought, processed honey and not neighbor, artisan honey.

Advent 2: December 4
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13
N Lectionary: Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Focus Word: Hope
Missions Item: Pajamas for First Light Womens Shelter

Advent 3: December 11
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10
N Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-11
Focus Word: Comfort
Missions Item: Socks for Mens Firehouse Shelter

Advent 4: December 18
RC Lectionary: Matthew 1:18-25
N Lectionary: Luke 1:26-49
Focus Word: Greetings
Missions Item: Chocolate kisses and hugs (Like Hershey’s)

Christmas Eve: December 24
RC and N Lectionary: Luke 2:1-14, 15-20
Focus Word: Go Forth
Missions Item: Gas Cards. Often those in need stop by the church asking for assistance; gas cards will be a way to help without handing out cash. Gas cards can also be donated to Children’s Hospital/Ronald McDonald House to assist those supporting sick family members.

And now the sermons…

Christ the King Sunday: November 20
RC Lectionary: Colossians 1:11-20
N Lectionary: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Good morning!

Often times when we gather, we talk about the Church Calendar. We talk about the special seasons and the special days of the Church Year. We have the Season of Lent right before the Season of Easter. And after Pentecost, during the Green Growing Season of summer and fall, we have the special days of Communion Sunday and All Saints. Today on the Church Calendar is called Christ the King Sunday. Today we celebrate the glory of the Lord…and we also look forward to a new Church Year. Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday on the Church Calendar. That means next Sunday begins a new Church Year with the Season of Advent. And Advent is the time when we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Talking about calendars and Advent…well, I’m sure you have heard those two words together. One of the many ways we mark Advent and prepare for Christmas is with an Advent Calendar. There are many different kinds of Advent Calendars: some have pictures, some have stories, and some have candy or toys…but they all count down the days to the mystery of Christmas.

Advent Calendars have been used around the world for just over 100 years. On traditional Advent Calendars, a door is opened each day. Doors are a symbol for welcome and sharing and new opportunity. This year at EPC, we celebrate Christ the King Sunday by opening the door to a new Church Year and a new kind of Advent Calendar. Starting next week, for our Advent Calendar, instead of counting days, we will count weeks. And instead of us getting something, we will give items for Missions. Each week, we will bring an item to the church; gather our items; read the Bible Story; and then the items will be delivered to those in need. We will count down to and prepare for the mystery of Christmas by following Christ’s example of welcome and sharing, by sharing God’s love with our community.

And so what we will bring for next Sunday? For the First Sunday of Advent, we will collect…honey. As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, get a jar of store-bought, processed honey and next week, we will collect them for the Food Pantry at IPC; and we will see how honey is a sweet way to share God’s love.

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

Dear Christ the King,
Thank You
for the special days and seasons
of the Church Year.
Thank You
for many ways
to share Your love.
We love you.
You love us.
Amen

***

Advent 1: November 27
Keep Calm and Advent On
RC Lectionary: Matthew 24:36-44
N Lectionary: Daniel 6:6-27
Focus Word: Peace
Missions Item: Honey for a local food pantry. Alas, due to health code regulations, this must be store-bought, processed, commercial honey and not neighbor, artisan honey.
Inspiration: In his Advent book Like a Cat Asleep on a Chair, my friend Wayne McLaughlin reflects on “The Clause” by C.K. Williams, “This entity I call my mind, this hive of restlessness…”

Good morning! Happy New Year!

Today we start a new Church Year with the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. Some people use an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas. They open doors on the calendar to see a picture or to read a story or to get a treat. We are using the Advent Calendar idea to count down the four weeks to Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. Today, for the First Week of Advent, we are giving jars of honey to the IPC Food Pantry.

Honey is made by bees. Bees are very busy. Always moving, always working, always buzzing. Sometimes I feel like our world is a great big beehive—all the people are buzzing with activity just like bees. We race through the days doing this, taking care of that. We don’t slow down. We don’t stop. [Narrative Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is about the Prophet Daniel; he’s the one who ends up in the lions’ den. And how does Daniel get through? Daniel stays calm. Daniel stays calm and trusts God.] [RCLectionary: Our Bible Story today from the Gospel of Matthew reminds us to be ready for God, but not worry about God. We are to keep calm and trust God.]

At this time of year, the world seems particularly busy and crazy. But for us at church, Advent is a time to be particularly calm. We are called to pause from the buzzing here and there of the world around us. During Advent, we prepare for the mystery of Christmas calmly, quietly, peacefully.

Bees move quickly. But honey…when we pour honey, it moves sweetly and slowly. Our gift to the Food Pantry gives us a touch of peace while giving others a touch of God’s love through the sweetness of His creation.

Sharing peace is what Advent is all about. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the First Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given our first gift. Next week, for the Second Week of Advent, we ask you to bring pajamas for the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter. And through this Season, remember: Keep calm and Advent on!

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for bees who are quick.
Thank You
for honey which is slow.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 2: December 4
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-13
N Lectionary: Joel 2:12-13, 28-29
Focus Word: Hope
Missions Item: Pajamas for First Light Women’s Shelter

Good morning!

We are in the Season of Advent. Advent is the time we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. Some people use an Advent Calendar to count down the days to Christmas. They open doors on the calendar to see a picture or to read a story or to get a treat. We are using the Advent Calendar idea to count down the four weeks to Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. Last Sunday, for the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry. Today starts the Second Week of Advent, and today we have brought pajamas for the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter.

[Narrative Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is from the Prophet Joel.]
[RC Lectionary: Our Bible Story today is from the Prophet Isaiah.] We hear words of hope for our future. But hope is not a weak word that means ‘we wish.’ Hope is a strong word that means ‘we know.’ During Advent, we renew our hope, renew our knowledge that our future is beautiful and abounding in God’s love.

Pajamas are an odd gift to connect to hope. But let’s think about it. We don’t have to have pajamas; a t-shirt and shorts work just fine. So giving pajamas goes beyond the practical, beyond what is needed; pajamas are special. And giving something special is a way of expressing hope. First Light Women’s Shelter is a place for women who do not have a home. By giving pajamas to the guests at First Light, we are wrapping them in a coat of love, love, love. We are renewing their hope, their knowledge that their future is beautiful and always abounding in God’s love.

Sharing hope and peace is what Advent is all about. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Second Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given our second gift. Next week, for the Third Week of Advent, we ask you to bring socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter. And through this Season, remember: Keep calm, express hope, and Advent on!

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for pajamas
to keep all Your children warm.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 3: December 11
RC Lectionary: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10
N Lectionary: Isaiah 61:1-11
Focus Word: Comfort
Missions Item: Socks for Men’s Firehouse Shelter
Editor’s Note: For this Sunday, an alternate Revised Common Lectionary is the Annunciation which falls on Week 4 in the Narrative Lectionary. This gets a bit tricky, but you may want to switch my sermons around and do Week 4 here and adapt this theme to fit the RCL for Week 4. Confusing, I know!

Good morning!

We are in the Season of Advent. We are using our Advent Calendar to count the four weeks to the mystery of Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; last Sunday, for the Second Week of Advent, our gifts of  pajamas went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter. Today starts the Third Week of Advent—and today we have socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter.

Let me explain. The Firehouse Shelter helps men who need housing or clothes or food or help with medicine or school or work or the law. Socks may not seem big enough to help, but think of this. Our feet are our friends. Taking care of our feet is important so that we can feel healthy and get around in this world. When our feet hurt, everything hurts; when our feet feel good, it sure helps our heart and mind and the rest of our body feel good.

[Narrative Lectionary: In our Bible Story today, the Prophet Isaiah uses poetry to describe how God loves us by clothing us with salvation and righteousness. Salvation and righteousness are not actual clothes that we wear; Isaiah is being poetic about how God makes us feel safe and comfortable. Our gifts of socks will keep the men’s feet warm and dry and cushioned in comfort. Our small, simple gift of comfort will help the men walk securely in God’s love.]
[RC Lectionary: In our Bible Story today, the Prophet Isaiah looks to the glory of the Lord…describing how the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the lame shall leap like a deer. Isaiah uses poetry to describe how God makes us feel safe and comfortable and strong. Our gifts of socks will keep the men’s feet warm and dry and cushioned in comfort. Our small, simple gift of comfort will help the men walk strongly in God’s love.]

Sharing hope and peace and comfort is what Advent is all about. This is how we count the weeks to Christmas. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Third Week of Advent; we have opened our hearts and given another gift. Next Sunday starts the Fourth and final week of Advent. For next Sunday, we ask you to bring…a bag of Chocolate Kisses and Hugs. And through this Advent Season, remember: keep calm, express hope, share comfort, and Advent on!

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for socks
to bring comfort to all Your children.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
to give comfort
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Advent 4: December 18
RC Lectionary: Matthew 1:18-25
N Lectionary: Luke 1:26-49
Focus Word: Greetings
Missions Item: Chocolate kisses and hugs. (Like Hershey’s)
Editor’s Note: Sorry that the Narrative Lectionary is not matching the Revised Common Lectionary on this day. But for the RCL, Joseph is greeted by an angel in a dream…feel free to adjust this sermon to match that text better.

Good morning!

We are still in the Season of Advent. We are using our Advent Calendar to count the four weeks to the mystery of Christmas. But instead of us opening a door each week to get a treat, we are opening our hearts and giving gifts to those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; for the Second Week of Advent, our gifts of pajamas went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter; then last Sunday, for the Third Week of Advent, our gifts of socks went to the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter. Today starts the Fourth and FINAL Week of Advent, and today we have brought Chocolate Kisses and Hugs for the guests at SafeHouse.

In our Bible Story today, Mary is visited by the Angel Gabriel and learns that she is to be the mother of Jesus. That’s a pretty big job to be given in this world—and immediately Mary says, “Here I am Lord!” While she joyfully accepts this call, Mary realizes that she needs to make plans and prepare, so she travels to her Cousin Elizabeth’s house. There Elizabeth greets Mary with hugs and kisses, and Mary has time to prepare for the new life before her in peace and comfort.

We, too, are a people who like to prepare for what comes next. Advent is the Season when we prepare for the mystery of Christmas. But throughout the year and throughout the world, there are people who need to go some place to make their plans. We have brought these chocolate kisses and hugs for the guests at SafeHouse. SafeHouse is a peaceful, comforting place for women in need to go and make their plans for what is next in their lives. Our chocolate gifts are symbols of our own greetings of hugs and kisses to welcome them as they prepare.

Sharing hope and peace and comfort and greetings is what Advent is all about. This is how we count the weeks to Christmas. This is how we prepare for the mystery of Christmas.

Today starts the Fourth and Final Week in Advent and we have opened our hearts and given another gift. This coming Saturday is Christmas Eve. We will again celebrate the mystery of Christmas! But we will bring one more gift—to finish our journey to Christmas we want you to bring a gas card—those prepaid cards to use at gas stations—so Pastor Joe can help people in need get where they need to be. So for this final week of Advent: keep calm, express hope, share comfort, offer greetings, and Advent on!

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for chocolate
to greet all Your children with hugs and kisses.
Help me
open my heart
to be calm
to express hope
to give comfort
to offer greetings
and to share Your peace.
Amen

Note: Usually at this point, we have a special Advent song. This year we are opting for the organist to match the weeks and play one, two, three, then four verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but very slowly and in a minor key. This will sound familiar but very different and perfect for the Advent mood.

***

Christmas Eve: December 24
RC and N Lectionary: Luke 2:1-14, 15-20
Focus Word: Go Forth
Missions Item: Gas Cards. Often those in need stop by the church asking for assistance; gas cards will be a way to help without handing out cash. Gas cards can also be donated to Children’s Hospital/Ronald McDonald House to assist those supporting sick family members.

Merry Christmas!!

Yes, Christmas is here! We have counted the Four Weeks to the mystery of Christmas, opening our hearts each week with gifts for those in need. For the First Week of Advent, our gifts of honey went to the IPC Food Pantry; for the Second Week, our pajama gifts went to the guests at First Light Women’s Shelter; then socks for the guests at the Men’s Firehouse Shelter on the Third Week; and last Sunday, chocolate kisses and hugs for the guests at SafeHouse. Tonight, Christmas Eve, you have brought gas cards.

As we hear our Bible Stories tonight about the birth of Jesus, I think it is funny for us to bring gas cards. Mary and Joseph travel by donkey; the shepherds use their feet; and later the wisemen will ride camels. None of them are stopping at gas stations. But throughout these stories, the people of God are traveling. They are going forth, answering God’s call.

The people of God are stilled called to go forth, and we are the people of God. Cars are one way that we go forth. Pastor Joe will keep our gifts of gas cards to share with those in need to help them go forth.

But as the Season of Advent moves to Christmas, do not think we are finished. With the mystery of Christmas, we are called to keep our hearts open—to go forth throughout the year finding other ways to continue keeping calm, expressing hope, giving comfort, and offering greetings. There is always more work to do for God and with Jesus, we have plenty to share.

Sharing is not just what Advent is all about. Sharing is what everything is all about. We have prepared for the mystery of Christmas by doing that which is the mystery of Christmas. Sharing. Always sharing.

For God so loved the world…
and we answer God’s call by going forth with open hearts and sharing. Keep calm, express hope, give comfort, offer greetings, and go forth.

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

Dear Lord,
Merry Christmas!
You are here!
We are here!
We are ready!
Our hearts are open!
We will go forth
and share Your love!
Amen
Amen

As the children return from the Steps, the organist will play 5 verses of The Twelve Days of Christmas…but this time regular tempo, regular key.

***

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
Peace of Christ with you all as you go forth and share!

(Especially share with me any typos, mistakes, whatevers that you see!)

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

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Lenten Series: They Are Holy (Almsgiving)

IMG_3986_edited-1for Sunday, April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday
Passion Sunday
Year A
lectionary focus: Matthew 21:1-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66
note: This is part of our Lenten Series on Almsgiving. Today we are collecting toiletries for our local shelter; for our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, it would be cool to collect winter coats connecting to the laying of garments before Christ’s donkey.

Welcome! Thank you for your Almsgiving! Yes, here, we are gathering all of the toiletries into this basket. I see shampoo and soap and hairbrushes and toothpaste. So many items to help our friends feel clean and comfortable.

We call our church God’s house. We take care of God’s house by keeping it clean. We put back the hymnals and Bibles in the pew racks. We pick up our bulletins. During the week, we dust and vacuum. We change the flowers and the candles. We replace the burned out lightbulbs and put out new prayer cards. We repair anything that breaks. By making God’s house clean and neat, we keep it a comfortable and welcoming…and Holy place to be.

And since Jesus lives in our hearts, we also keep our bodies clean. My friend Margaret Atwood says, “In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” I agree! But I also agree that after smelling like dirt, it feels really good to get clean. To bathe and shampoo my hair and put on lotion and fresh, clean clothes. Ah. Nice. Getting myself clean and neat makes me feel comfortable and healthy…and Holy.

Today is called Palm Sunday. Today we begin the last week leading us to the Mystery and Joy of Easter. Our Bible stories this week take us from riding in a parade, to carrying the cross, to finding the empty tomb. We go from happy, to sad, to joyful. So many important things happen this week that we call it Holy Week. And as our hearts and minds go through all of the emotions of Holy Week, we ask: What can we do to help others? Our Almsgiving this Lenten Season has shared bread and water and socks and eyeglasses and even treats for animals. Today we have brought toiletries. Yes, it is a funny word, but these are items that help our bodies feel clean and comfortable and ready to go forth into the world. We share these items with others who are having a hard time so that they will feel clean, that they will enjoy comfort, and that they will know we see Christ in them, we see them as Holy. Thank you for your Almsgiving. Thank you for doing this Holy work of sharing God’s love.

Next week we will begin Easter with great jubilation. We will rejoice in the Lord. We want you to bring flowers. Your flowers will fill the sanctuary with nature’s beauty…and then after church, we will share the flowers with those in our church family who are suffering from illness or conditions that keep them from coming to church. Since they cannot be here, we will take some of here to them.

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

Dear Lord,
We enter Holy Week
thinking of others.
Bless our gifts for them
that they may feel clean,
that they may enjoy comfort,
that they may know we see them as Holy.
Amen

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

Lenten Series: Calling for You (Almsgiving)

harveyfor Sunday, April 6, 2014
5th Sunday in Lent
Year A
lectionary focus: John 11:1-45
note: This is part of our Lenten Series on Almsgiving. As another option to the Humane Society, we looked for an organization that supports Guide Animals, but could not find a local one that needed our assistance.

Welcome! Lots of dog food and cat food and pet treats! Thank you! Thank you! Our basket is so heavy!

During Lent our Almsgiving has focused on helping people. We’ve given bread and socks and eyeglasses and money to help provide clean water. Today our almsgiving goes to help animals. Like people, sometimes animals need help. Dogs and cats may have to go to an animal shelter and wait for a new family to give them a home. A few weeks ago my friend Jill and her family adopted a puppy. Now their home is busy with Harvey; walking him and feeding him and playing with him. We say that they are training him, but most of the time it is the puppy training the family how to care for him. Jill said that it was hard at the animal shelter to decide which puppy to adopt; they wanted to take them all! But their home could not handle 35 puppies and 13 cats. They chose Harvey and now their home is alive with puppy.

In our Bible Story today, one of Jesus’s best friends, Lazarus, is dying. Everyone is sad and has gathered together. Everyone, except Jesus. Jesus takes so long to arrive that in fact, Lazarus dies before He gets there. Lazarus’s sisters are hurt and upset. Jesus says to them, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Then Jesus does a great miracle: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus comes out of the tomb, comes back to life, because Jesus calls him to live. This miracle is amazing and one we would all like to see. The thing is, every day, Jesus calls each of us to live. Every day, Jesus calls us to come out into the world, and we answer this miraculous call to life by caring for each other.

Today our caring extends to the animals of God’s world. Some people may think it odd we are helping animals. But when God created the world, God made us responsible for taking care of each other and of all creation. Like people, sometimes animals need our help. We can’t adopt all of the dogs and cats, but our gifts today support the shelters that help the animals until they find their new best friends. We are answering Jesus’s call to live by helping God’s creation…the people creations and the animal creations. Thank you for sharing in God’s miracle of life.

Next Sunday is called Palm Sunday and we begin what is called Holy Week…the week leading us to Easter Sunday. Next week, we ask that you bring what we call toiletries. No, not a toilet like in the bathroom, but toiletries, items we use in the bathroom to make our bodies clean: soap and shampoo and toothpaste and brushes and lotions. Come and see how these gifts help share God’s love and make others feel welcomed.

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 Your people.
Thank You
for Your animals.
Blessing our gifts
as we answer Your call
to live
to love
to share in the miracle of life.
Amen

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

Lenten Series: Your Going Out, Your Coming In, Your Socks (Almsgiving)

bootsandsocksfor Sunday, March 16, 2014
2nd Sunday in Lent
Year A
lectionary focus: Psalm 121
note 1: This is part of our Lenten Series on Almsgiving. I originally thought I would use the lectionary from John for this sermon, but changed my mind to use the Psalm.
note 2: Have a basket to collect the socks.
note 3: Have cups (we are going to use red plastic cups) to pass out for next week’s almsgiving: collecting coins in cups for Living Waters of the World.

Look at all of the socks you have brought! Our basket is so full! Thank you! Thank you!

When we think of Bible stories, we don’t often think of socks. I think that most of the people back then wore sandals without socks. But in today’s story, we read from the book of Psalms. In verse one, we hear, “I lift up my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come?” I think you know the answer to the Psalmist’s question. In verse eight, we hear, “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.” In this Psalm and throughout the Bible, we hear how God guides our feet, always here to help us, always here to love us, always here to walk with us.

For the past many weeks, Pastor Catherine has had a hard time walking with her broken foot. Yes, her “boot” is really cool looking, much like an astronaut’s boot. And her scooter is even cooler, more like a toy than a tool. But Catherine has confessed to me that we don’t really think much about our feet until they hurt or they don’t work right. She is not able to go running or hiking or even to walk the dog! And you’ve seen how she has a hard time on the chancel steps. Catherine is getting a good lesson in an old saying, “Your feet are your friends.”

In my family, we like to do lots of walking and so to remind the people in our family that we love them, we like to give socks as presents. When we give each other really nice, comfy, sturdy, good socks, we are saying, “Hey, I want your feet to feel good. I want your feet to be strong and healthy so that you can walk well and do the things God calls you to do.”

Today you have brought socks: nice, comfy, sturdy, good socks. And this afternoon, Mr. Bill and I will take these socks to the First Light Shelter. The guests are at the Shelter because they need help; they are having a hard time in their lives. Through your gift, they will know that you want their feet to feel good; they will know that you want them to walk boldly and strongly and comfortably; they will know that God loves them because you have shared with them. Your almsgiving this week will help meet their need in a loving way. Thank you for sharing God’s love this way.

To prepare for next week’s almsgiving, I am going to give each of you a cup today. Our Bible story next week is about water. Now I’m not asking you to bring your cup back full of water…that would be silly…but I am asking that you bring your cup back full of coins! You will see next week how your cup of coins can help meet others’ need for water.

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for my feet.
Thank You
for walking with me.
Please bless these socks
as we share them with others
so they will know
our love
and Your love
and they will walk
boldly and strongly and comfortably
with You.
Amen

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

Lenten Series: Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt, and You (Almsgiving)

breadThe first Sunday  of Lent in our Lenten Series focussing on the Discipline of Almsgiving.
for Sunday, March 9, 2014
First Sunday in Lent
Year A
lectionary focus: Matthew 4:1-11
note: Have a big basket on the chancel steps to collect the loaves of bread brought by the children for today’s almsgiving. (You might also want to have some extra loaves to give to those children whose family forgot.)
note 2:  The opening story comes from Sleeping With Bread by Dennis Linn, Shelia F. Linn, and Matthew Linn (1995) (Google eBook)

Welcome! Such beautiful loves of bread!! Please place them here in this basket.

Long ago during World War II, there were children whose homes were destroyed and their families separated by the warfare. Those children were then kept safe in various camps. But because of the war and the destruction and the stress they were living through, many of these children had a hard time sleeping. Someone decided to give each child a piece of bread to hold during the night. The bread in their hands reminded the children that they had eaten that day and that they would have food to eat the next day. The bread reminded them that they were not alone, giving them comfort, making them feel safe, and they could sleep.

In our Bible story today from the Book of Matthew, Jesus has spent some time alone in the wilderness praying and preparing for His ministry. Because He has been out there so long, He is hungry. Satan comes to Him and tempts Him to change the rocks into bread to eat. Jesus is not one to be tricked by the Devil, but Jesus responds in a tricky way. Jesus says that man does not live by bread alone.

Now Jesus is NOT getting ready to explain the different food groups and how to eat a balanced diet. What we hear from Jesus is the reminder that we do not live our lives by ourselves. We are not alone. We live our lives WITH God and WITH each other.

We are now in the Season of Lent. During this Season, we are focussing on the discipline of almsgiving. As we find ways to make sure that others have what they need, we strengthen our relationship with God and each other. Today you brought loaves of bread. Mr. Bill and I will take all of this bread after the service down to the First Light Homeless Shelter. The guests there will enjoy this bread with their dinner tonight. They will be nourished. And in this stressful, lonely, and fearful time in their lives, they will feel comfort and safety. They will have food today and know that they will have something to eat tomorrow. But most importantly, the guests at the shelter will feel your love and God’s love. Through your gift, they will know that they are not alone.

Thank you for bringing these beautiful loaves today! Next week, we will hear the story of Nicodemus going out to meet Jesus…and so we are asking you to bring new socks for your almsgiving on next Sunday. Again, we will email you on Thursday to remind you!

Now 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 Bread.
Thank You
that we are not alone.
Please bless this Bread
as we share it with others
so they will know
our love
and Your love.
Amen

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