Tag Archives: graduation

Rock Hopping

IMG_8185for Sunday, May 18, 2014
5th Sunday of Easter
(Graduation Sunday?)
Year A
lectionary focus: 1 Peter 2:2-10
props: rocks
note: We are recognizing Graduation Sunday on this day hence the inset paragraph; we have all of the Youth gather on the steps with us for this occasion. Use or omit, whichever is appropriate.

Welcome!

When we go with the Youth Group to church camp at Montreat, North Carolina, one of the many fun things we do is go Rock Hopping. There is a creek full of rushing water that comes down from the mountain. The creek water is very cold, even in the hottest part of the summer. And the creek is full of rocks. Some of the rocks are small enough to hold in your hand; others are big enough for several people to sit down and rest; and other rocks are just the size of your foot. And while those rocks come in many sizes, there are really only two kinds of rocks: the rocks that the water rushes over and covers up and the rocks that stick up out of the water and are dry. When we rock hop, we try to walk and jump and climb from dry rock to dry rock without stepping in…or falling in…the icy water. We are trying to stay dry, but of course getting wet is part of the joyful fun of Rock Hopping! As we are hopping down the creek, I can almost hear rocks calling to me: “Step here! Come this way! I’m firm and don’t wiggle! There’s no slippery moss on me!” I know, the rocks don’t talk; they are not alive; but I do think if they were alive and could talk, they would enjoy all of the laughing and screaming and jumping and falling and balancing as much as we do.

I thought about these rocks in Flat Creek when I was reading our Bible story for today. In this story from the Book of 1 Peter, we hear another one of those weird phrases from the Bible: St. Peter calls us to be living stones. Stone is another word for rock. But living? We just agreed that rocks are not living. They are just rocks. We use them for many things: we use them to build buildings and houses and roads and bridges. And we use the rocks in Flat Creek as stepping stones. Those rocks are how we get from one place to the next. Those rocks are what hold us up.

So how can we be living stones?

I like to think that when St. Peter calls us to be living stones, we are being called to live our lives in ways that help people move forward, that we are to help people get from one place to another, and that we are to do that in a fun and entertaining way. We are to be helpful stepping stones that others may firmly and safely and joyfully live their lives.

(If this is Graduation Sunday…)
Today we are celebrating moving forward. School is just about finished for the year. We will all enjoy summer vacation and then start back to new grades and maybe even new schools. Tamara will be starting a new grade and a new school. Tamara is graduating from high school and next August will go off to Warren Wilson College. Tamara used to sit on the chancel steps like y’all do each week; then Tamara got old enough to be in Youth Group; and Tamara has rock hopped at Montreat like a master. As she moves forward to a new adventure, we here at Edgewood Church will continue to be her stepping stone, firmly and joyfully lifting her up and supporting her throughout her life. And as we do this for Tamara, we here at Edgewood Church will support each and every one of you, too. There is nothing that separate you from the love of God…or from from the love of us.

Today I brought each of you a little river rock. Keep this and remember that you are called to live your life helping others. You are called to be a living stone.

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 fun games
like Rock Hopping.
Thank You
for calling me
to be a living stone.
Help me
to help others
live their lives
safely and joyfully.
Amen

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

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Jesus is Here. Jesus Loves Us. It Will All Be Okay.

shepherdfor Sunday, May 11, 2014
4th Sunday of Easter
Good Shepherd Sunday
Graduation Sunday
Year A
lectionary focus: Psalm 23

Welcome!

Here is a story that Pastor Catherine told recently:
One day Pastor Catherine was at the grocery store. There she saw a mother with her baby daughter. The baby daughter was not happy; she was in the seat of the grocery cart crying at the top of her lungs. The mother was trying to shop as quickly as possible but the baby just kept crying and crying and crying. The mother was speaking very softly and saying beautiful words of comfort. “It’s okay Susie. I’m sorry you are so upset. It was not a good idea to stop at the store now, but in a few minutes this will be finished and then you can go home and have your favorite lunch and I’ll tuck you into bed for a nice nap. Don’t cry, Susie. I love you. I am here. It will all be okay.” And the mother just kept saying these soothing words over and over while the baby kept crying. When Pastor Catherine was leaving the grocery store, she saw the mother loading the groceries into the car and putting her baby into the carseat. Pastor Catherine went over to the young mother and said, “Excuse me, I just want to say what a good job you are doing. You were speaking so lovingly while your daughter was so upset. You are a great mother to Susie.” The young mother stopped and looked kind of puzzled and then said, “Oh. My daughter is Janet. I am Susie. I was saying the words I know Jesus would say to comfort me.”

Today is a day of many celebrations. Today we are still celebrating Easter…because the mystery and joy of Easter are too big to celebrate on just one Sunday; and I’m sure you know that we are celebrating Mother’s Day because you already have been making your mother feel special; and we are celebrating our friends who are graduating from high school and going forth into the world in a new way. And in addition to celebrating Easter and Mother’s Day and Graduation Day, our Bible story today is the 23rd Psalm, the Lord is My Shepherd, so the church calls today Good Shepherd Sunday.

Now most of us may not know any actual shepherds, but we know that sheep need a shepherd. Sheep trust the shepherd to care for them. Sheep trust the shepherd to stay with them and lead them. Through good weather and bad weather. Through good pastures and not so good pastures. Through safety and danger. Wherever they are, whatever they are doing, sheep trust their shepherd to continue always to care for them and be with them.

Pastor Catherine’s funny story about the mother in the grocery store reminds us that each of us trusts Jesus to comfort us. Like sheep trusting the shepherd to care for them, we too trust Jesus to care for each of us. No matter who we are, or where we are, or what we are doing, Jesus is with us. As mommies and daddies and children, as family and friends, as students and workers, as God’s Easter people, we trust Jesus will always be with us in good moments and bad, in the excitement of special days and the slowness of boring days, in the times of comfort and in the times of fear. The Lord is our shepherd. Jesus is here. Jesus loves us. It will all be okay. And we go forth trusting Jesus to continue to be with us, to lead us, to comfort us now and always. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.

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 celebrations.
Thank You
for Your love.
Thank You
for always being with me.
Amen

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

Not Sitting Around

IMG_4646for Sunday, June 9, 2013
Third Sunday after Pentecost
Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 5
Year C
lectionary focus: 1 Kings 17:8-24; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17
Note: If you haven’t done a Graduation Sunday, these texts can certainly lend themselves to the Go Forth with God theme.
Inspiration: A thought provoking idea from Rob Moss…

Good Morning!

It is June! It is Summer! It is Vacation! Time for traveling! When I was a kid, we traveled a lot, sometimes far away and sometimes down the street. My mom would always remind us before each trip, before each outing, before  each going out the front door: we needed to learn something, to have fun, to be safe, and to remember that we were representing the family and should behave ourselves.

In our Bible stories today, we hear about a lot of traveling. God sends the Prophet Elijah on a trip; St. Paul shares news from his travels; and Jesus goes to the small town of Nain. All of these are traveling stories. But actually, there are very few people in the Bible who just ‘sit around.’ God likes for us to travel. God wants us to get out in the world, to see other places, to learn about God’s people. But our travels are not just about learning things and having fun. Whenever we go on a trip or an outing or out the front door, we have an opportunity to represent God and to share His love. Yes, this is our church, but by going out, we connect with our neighbors and build God’s community beyond the walls of our church. This is one of the ways we make the world a more beautiful place.

Today’s Bible stories remind us that God’s people do not sit around. While Jesus never traveled very far from His birthplace in Bethlehem, He did not just sit and wait for people to come to Him. Jesus went out into the world–to their tables to eat, to their houses to visit, and to the seashore and countryside to share stories. As we each travel this summer, let us remember to learn something, to have fun, to be safe, and most importantly, to represent God and to share His love wherever we go.

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 love.
Help me
to share Your love
in all my travels
far away
and down the street.
Amen

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

Let Me Tell You Again…

for Sunday, May 5, 2013
6th Sunday of Easter
Graduation Sunday
Year C
lectionary focus: John 14:23-29
(Note: Again this year, May is a full month: the 12th is Mother’s Day; the 19th is Pentecost; and the 26th is Trinity Sunday. Where do we fit Graduation Sunday? I like to recognize the graduates by having them come down for children’s time. As they take this big step into the adult world, graduates love remembering and doing those things they did as young children–and the younger children love seeing the big kids and knowing soon they will be big, too.)

graduation

Good Morning!
Happy Easter!

Yes, we are still celebrating the joy and mystery of Easter! And now we are in the month of May…and when it is May, that means summer is just around the corner. And for some people this will be an extra special summer. Some of the people in our church family are graduating from high school and moving on to the next part of their lives. They may be getting a “real” job or going off to college. As they near their graduation, I asked them to join us on the steps today…one more time.

Now wherever our graduates are going…to a job or school…it will be a new experience. And sometimes, new experiences can be kind of scary. We worry if we will do things right, or if we will have friends, or if something unimaginable will happen!

But the good news is this: We are Easter people. This means that no matter what, no matter where we go or what we do, God is with us. Yes, even after the Easter Season is over, we will still celebrate Easter. In our Bible story today, Jesus tells us: do not let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid. He is with us. God is our Home wherever we are. God is our Light wherever we are. So whether we are doing the same old thing as last week, or if we are going out into the world to do something new, God is with us.

You know, I see these graduates smiling and nodding their heads. They’ve heard these words before. And I bet you younger kids know already that we grownups like to repeat the important things. Seems like every day we tell you all to use your manners, wash your hands, eat your vegetables, put your clothes in the dirty clothes hamper, buckle your seatbelt, go to sleep, do your homework, and that we love you. You hear these words over and over, so it is also right that one more time you hear: God loves you. This is the Easter message that is so joyous, that is so continuous, that is written on our hearts, and that we can never hear too many times.

Today we tell our graduates to go out into the world in peace (and come back to us) and to know that they are always loved by God and by us.

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 being with me
now
and always.
Amen

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

And Come Back

for Sunday, May 6, 2012
5th Sunday of Easter
Graduation Sunday
lectionary focus: Acts 8:26-40
note: Why this Sunday to honor graduates? It is either this Sunday with the eunuch’s desire to learn, or May 20th with the John 17:6-19 text “as I have sent them into the world.” May 13th is Mother’s Day and then May 27th is Pentecost. If you choose not to discuss graduation this Sunday, you can key in on the need to be life-long learners.

Good morning! Today we would like any of you who are graduating this spring from high school or college to come join us on the chancel steps. It wasn’t so long ago that you were down here every Sunday, and it won’t be too long before our current regulars are marching to Pomp and Circumstance.

First:
Congratulations on your big achievement!

Second:
You never finish going to school.

We have a saying in our culture: Learn something new every day. This is not just for children and students but for grown-ups and grandparents, too. Exercising our brains is just as important as exercising our bodies. We should never stop learning. And this is not a new idea. Throughout the Bible we see the children of God learning. In our Bible story today, we see a smart, important grown-up–an official of the Queen’s court–learning something new. And he is excited about it; he is eager to learn; he rejoices in learning! You may have finished one school, but we hope that you have not finished learning.

And third:
Let me tell you a story.

You know how at the end of the service, Pastor Sid gives us the blessing and the charge? He always starts with, “Go out into the world in peace.” Well, once upon a time, I was sitting on the back pew with my friend Mr. Ron and when Pastor Sid said, “Go out into the world in peace,” before he could say the next part, Mr. Ron quietly said, “And come back.” So to those of us on the back pews it sounded like this, “Go out into the world in peace…and come back.” Well, we all kinda giggled. But then I got to thinking about it. Mr. Ron was right.
Many of you are going out far away into the world..and that is a good thing…and you will go with God…but it is important that you come back to your church. It is important that you come back to us, your church family. We love you, we are here to support you, we want to keep learning about you, and you can always come back to us, to church, to God.

So Graduates, go out into the world in peace and come back!

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 our graduates.
Help us all
to go out into the world in peace
and help us all
to come back.
Amen

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