Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

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.

God Is So Big…

trinityfor Sunday, May 26, 2013
Trinity Sunday
1st Sunday after Pentecost
Year C
lectionary focus: John 16:12-16
Note: I like Carolyn Brown’s approach that Trinity Sunday is God Sunday: “The call is not to explain God but to celebrate God’s mysterious, more than we can ever explain presence.”

Good morning!

A long, long time ago there lived a man named Socrates. He was a teacher and a speaker. He said so many smart things that people thought him to be very wise and perhaps, to be the smartest person to have lived. But Socrates said that the one thing he did know, was that he knew nothing. What Socrates meant was that he was so smart, he knew he did not know everything there is to know. Socrates knew that there would always be something else he could learn.

In our Bible story today, Jesus tells the disciples that they don’t know everything and that is okay. Jesus points out that they cannot just know it all right then, that learning takes time. While Jesus has shared many things with the disciples, there is more for them to learn. There will always be something else they can learn.

On the church calendar, today is called Trinity Sunday. Today we celebrate that we don’t know everything; we celebrate the big mystery of God and His love for us. God is so big that today we use His full, long name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is so amazing that today we remind ourselves that none of us can ever fully, totally know all there is to know about God. Sometimes it seems like we grownups know all there is to know. But we don’t…especially about God. As God’s children, we all wonder about God and people and the world. And this wonder is good. The Bible also tells us that being amazed by God is the beginning of wisdom. Knowing that we don’t know it all is a part of our faith; yet continuing to learn is part of our practice…whether we are 7 years old or 47 years old or 77 years old. There will always be something else we can learn.

And so today, we rejoice in the bigness of God. And we celebrate that there will always be something else we can learn about God and our place in His world.

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

Dear Lord,
Today we rejoice
that You are so big.
Today we rejoice
that there is always
something else we can learn.
Thank You
for being so big
that You have enough love
for us all.
Amen

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

Happy Birthday!

fireworkfor Sunday, May 19, 2013
Pentecost
Year C
lectionary focus: Acts 2:1-21

Good morning!

Today we come to the end of the Easter Season. Today is called Pentecost. Today we celebrate the birthday of the church. But we are not celebrating the birthday of this church. Our church, Edgewood Presbyterian Church, is 101 years old this year and we do make a big deal of celebrating how long EPC has been here…but today we celebrate the birthday of the world church. For almost two thousand years, people have been coming together in congregations all over the world to follow Jesus’s commandment to love God and to love one another. Today we celebrate that we are not Christians alone. We are Christians together. We are a family with Christians all over the world.

Our Bible story today begins with the disciples at Easter. They have seen Jesus risen from the dead and then watched Him ascend to Heaven. They are still struggling with the Easter mystery. And suddenly the disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit. They are overwhelmed with the Easter joy…they know that Jesus, though in Heaven, is still with them always.

And the Bible story goes on…Jesus is not just for them; they are not just a few lucky people. Jesus is for everyone in the whole world: the people then and the people now.  Jesus is still with each of us. And Jesus still loves each of us. We are all blessed people. We are all part of God’s family.

At my house, when someone has a birthday, we usually have two parties: one with our friends and one with our family. Today, we celebrate the birthday of the church with just one party, one party celebrated all over the world…because as Christians, our friends are our family. And as Christians, we are all God’s children…brothers and sisters from one church building to the next all around the world.

So today we say, Happy Birthday to the church! And with churches all over the world, we celebrate that we are all one family…that we are all God’s children.

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 Your world church.
Help us
say Happy Birthday
with our family
all over the world.
Amen

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

Something So Common

glassfor Sunday, January 13, 2013
The Baptism of the Lord
1st Sunday after Epiphany
lectionary focus: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
prop: a clear glass of water

Good morning!

This is a glass of water. Just an ordinary glass of plain, boring water. Water is one of those common things that is important. Plants and animals and people need water to live. We drink it; we cook and wash with it; we make electricity using it; we swim and play in it. Water is found everywhere: in our homes, our schools, our yards, our parks, the sky, even in the Bible.

In our Bible story today, John the Baptist is in the River Jordan, teaching and preaching about Jesus. John is preparing the people for when Jesus begins His ministry. John baptizes them, welcoming them into God’s family. But John tells the people: “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming…He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit…”

In our church, like John, we welcome people into God’s family and baptize them with water. (Briefly explain the steps of baptism in your congregation.) But Jesus has come. And so now in baptism, the water is a symbol that we are touched by the Holy Spirit and that we are claimed by God. Yep, with just plain, old, boring water, we are marked as God’s own.

I like that we use something so common for something so special. God is cool that way.

So the next time you wash your hands, or drink a glass of water, or get wet in the rain or snow….remember you are part of God’s family. You are touched by the Holy Spirit. You are loved.

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 using plain, old water
to touch us
and claim us
as part of Your family.
Amen

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.