Tag Archives: Isaiah

Lean Downstream

IMG_1966Our guest preacher has gone rogue and is using a different text!
for Sunday, February 1, 2015

lectionary focus: Isaiah 43:16-21
prop: canoe paddle

Good morning!

This is a canoe paddle. This is used in a canoe on a lake or a river. On a lake, the paddle helps you get the canoe from one place to another. But on a river, the paddle really just helps you steer because the flowing water of the river does most of the work of moving you downstream. And as you go downstream in a river, there are some places where there are lots of rocks and the water piles up in a big, frothy mess. These are called rapids. And they can be kind of tricky to get your canoe to go through. When I was learning to canoe, my husband, Mr. Bill, taught me how to handle the rapids. You lean forward towards the rapid. See if you lean forwards in the canoe you put the weight in the front and the canoe just swooshes through the frothy water easy peasy. If you get scared and lean away from the rapid, you put the weight in the back and water will spill into the canoe and flip it so that you go through the rapid and the rocks in the water and not safe and dry in the canoe. While this leaning forward makes sense, it can actually be hard to do. Our instinct is to lean back, to get away from the scary, big, frothy mess of water. But the way to get through this difficult thing, is to get through this difficult thing. The plan, the adventure, the fun, all happens when we lean forward.

In our Bible story today from the Book of Isaiah, the people of God are not canoeing on a river. But they are facing a big, difficult, scary mess. They have been working hard in a strange land. And they’ve gotten whiney. They want to lean away; they want to turn back. But the Prophet Isaiah reminds the people that even in the dry wilderness, God is there. God is doing a new thing for His people. God is making a way for them to go…but God’s people need to trust Him; God’s people need to lean forward.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in difficult places. We want to turn around. We want to go back. We think that behind us is safety and comfort. But know this: God is with you always. And God is leading you to new and better things each day. God is making a way for you through the difficult things. God has chosen each of you and God is calling each of you to trust Him and to lean forward.

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 the adventures
in our lives.
Help us
to trust You
and to lean forward
that we may go forth
in Your world.
Amen

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

Your Gloom Be Like The Noonday

IMG_2106for Sunday, February 9, 2014
5th Sunday after Epiphany
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year A
Valentine’s Day
lectionary focus: Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)
prop: a Valentine for each child

When I was a kid, one of my chores was to bring in the mail from the mailbox. It was a nice chore, not too hard and a good excuse to get outside and see what was going on. But…none of the mail was ever for me! Yes, there were some catalogs I could look at, but my mom got lots of letters; and I got none. One day I pouted, “I don’t EVER get any letters!” My mom very casually replied, “You have to write letters to get letters.” I decided that I really wanted to receive letters and since I wanted letters, maybe other people did, too. And if I wrote to other people, maybe they would write back to me…and then we’d both get something we liked! Sure enough, I wrote to my grandmother and to my cousin and to a friend who had moved away…and they each wrote me back! So I wrote them back. And I also started writing to others; some never wrote back but told me they loved receiving a letter from me; a few joined my list of pen-pals. For awhile I had 6 different people I was regularly sending and receiving letters with! To get what I wanted…I just had to give it to someone else!

In our Bible story today from Isaiah, the people of God are whining. They are complaining to God that here they are going to church and all of that, but they are not getting anything for themselves. Oops. I think I can kind of hear God sigh and then chuckle. God tells the people that if they want something for themselves, they must give it to someone else. If you take care of others, your light will rise in the darkness and your gloom will be gone!’ To get what they wanted…they just had to give it to someone else who also needed it. Sounds a lot like, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This coming week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. It is always fun to receive Valentines but…I wonder if you see the connection today. To get Valentines, we might need to give them. While we may not receive as many as we give, we will be filled with warm happies knowing that we have made others feel warm and happy. To help you get started, I have a Valentine for each of you. But this is not me giving a Valentine to you…though you are each a special Valentine to me…this Valentine is so you will have one to give to someone else.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I wonder if this works with things other than letters or Valentines?

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 loving me.
Help me
to share with others
that I may then
receive from others.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.
Thanks for all that you share with me!!
Fran

Gathering Advent 2013

AChristmasfor Advent and Christmas Eve 2013
Year A

It is time to gather Advent! This post contains five children’s sermons: one for each Sunday in Advent and one for Christmas Eve (or Day).* My church uses the children’s time to light the Advent Wreath candles. But this year, my Advent/Christmas sermon series goes beyond lighting the candles by having the children also assemble the crèche week by week. We will stage our medium-sized, tabletop, durable yet lovely, crèche in the front of the sanctuary near the Advent candles. We are still discussing the exact details of placement as we want it viewable by all, yet easily accessible by the children.

Here is my outline–which you can certainly adjust to fit your children, crèche, and worship style:
1st Sunday, December 1: The Candle of Home/The Stable: Psalm 122:1-9; Isaiah 2:1-5
2nd Sunday, December 8: The Candle of Community/The Cattle: Isaiah 11:1-10
3rd Sunday, December 15: The Candle of Joy/The figure of Mary: Luke 1:47-55
4th Sunday, December 22: The Candle of Faith/The figure of Joseph: Matthew 1:18-25
Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24 or Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25: The Christ Candle/The Angels, the Shepherds, the sheep, and the figure of Jesus: Luke 2:1-20 or John 1:1-14

The full sermons are below. I am still fine tuning them, but as time is getting close, I wanted to go ahead and post. Please forgive typos (or better yet, let me know!) and check back each week to see if I’ve done any improvement editing.

In addition to using these sermons, you can modify this handout Gathering Advent for your members to use at home as they gather Advent. It is a Word document; honestly, I’m not sure how it will open on your computer! If you have problems please email me (chancelsteps  @ gmail dot com). Once you open it, add your Church’s name, and share with your congregation; feel free to edit as needed but please retain my web address at the bottom of the pages as the source. Also note, the two added verses for Away in a Manger…courtesy of my friends Jill Stewart, Lynn Dorough, and Susan Windham. (They are blessed with poetic talents!)

So, from here, seek out an appropriate crèche and invite your church children to gather Advent and prepare for the great mystery of Christmas.

May you gather home, community, joy, and faith this Advent Season,
Frances

*You can find two other Advent/Christmas sermon series in this blog: traditional here and different here.

*************************

Astable1st Sunday, December 1, 2013
The Candle of Home
The Stable
lectionary focus: Psalm 122:1-9; Isaiah 2:1-5

Welcome to Advent!

Today we start the Season of Advent. During this time, we spend four weeks preparing ourselves for the great mystery of Christmas. Each of the four Sundays during Advent we will light another candle on the wreath. And this year, as the candles help us move closer to Christmas, we will also add to our crèche, which is the church word for manger scene.

Our Bible story today calls us to think about the House of the Lord. Usually those words make us think about the church. But during Advent, we think about where Jesus was born. He was not born in a hospital or a fancy castle or even a house. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. A stable is a barn; it’s where animals sleep. A stable is not where people stay. But this is the message: Jesus is at home everywhere. Certainly, if He can be at home in a lowly stable, then He can be at home here in our church; He can be at home in our houses; He can be at home in the Shelter downtown; and He can be at home in our hearts.

Today we will begin our crèche by placing the stable. As you each get to hold it and pass it around, notice how simple it looks and how strong it feels. And now Zachary will place it on our table.

Today we also light the First Candle in our Advent Wreath. People have different names for the different candles. We will call this First Candle, the Candle of Home. With our stable and our candle, we remember that Jesus is at home everywhere, and we are at home in the love of Jesus. While Zachary now lights the First Candle, the Candle of Home, will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We place the stable
and light this candle
on the First Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare our hearts
as loving homes
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing the first verse of Away in a Manger.
(Away in a manger, No crib for His bed. The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay. The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.)

May you be at Home in this Advent Season.

*

Aanimals2nd Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Candle of Community
The Cattle
lectionary focus: Isaiah 11:1-10

Welcome to the Second Sunday in Advent!

Last Sunday, we lit the First Candle, the Candle of Home. We also placed the stable, Jesus’s first home, in our crèche. We thought about the House of the Lord and how Jesus is at home everywhere…and we are home with the love of Jesus.

Our Bible story today is an Old Testament prophecy describing the Advent of the Lord. We hear that when He comes, the wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard with the goat, and the young cows and the lions and the bears and the snakes will all be friends and eat together. Nowwwww, we know lots of these animals aren’t really friends. Most often, if they eat together…it’s because one is eating the other. But again, this is the message: with Jesus, all kinds of people can be friends. People who act differently and think differently and look differently can sit and eat together at Jesus’s Holy table. Jesus invites us to live together in this one world, invites us to live together in a peaceful Community.

Last Sunday, we placed the stable. And what would be a stable without animals? As you each get to hold and pass around the cows and sheep and goats, think about all the different kinds of people that make up the community of our church, the community of our neighborhoods, the community of our world. And now Miles and Theo will place the animals in the stable.

Today we light the Second Candle in Advent. We call this Candle, the Candle of Community. With our stable and our animals and our two candles, we remember that Jesus is our home and He is the foundation of peace in our communities near, far, and everywhere. While Miles and Theo light the two candles, will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We add the animals to the stable
and light this candle
on the Second Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare with peaceful Community
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing the second verse of Away in a Manger.
(The cattle are lowing; the Baby awakes. But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes. I love Thee, Lord Jesus look down from the sky and stay by my side ‘til morning is nigh.)

May you be in Community this Advent Season.

**

AMary3rd Sunday, December 15, 2013
The Candle of Joy
The figure of Mary
lectionary focus: Luke 1:47-55

Welcome!

Today is the Third Sunday in Advent. On the first Sunday, we lit the Candle of Home and placed the stable in our crèche. Last Sunday, we lit the Candle of Community and placed the animals in the stable. We have talked about Home and Community and how Jesus is at home everywhere and He calls us at to be at home throughout communities around the world.

Our Bible story today is the beautiful song of Mary, Jesus’s mother. When the Angel comes to tell Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus…which honestly is kind of an overwhelming announcement…what a big job!…Mary says, Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord! Mary means, Yes! She is overjoyed to do this big job! And she sings a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. Be sure to listen later in the service when the choir sings this song…and feel the joy that Mary tells…the joy of being with Jesus.

This Sunday, we add the figure of Mary to our crèche. As you each get to hold her and pass her around, look at how the artist that created this figure painted her face to captured her feeling of joy. And now Liza will place the figure of Mary in our crèche.

Today we light the Third Candle in Advent. We call this Candle, the Candle of Joy. We think of Mary’s joy; we think of our joy; we think of the Joy of the Word…the Joy that is coming…the Joy that is Jesus. And now Liza will light the three candles: the Candle of Home, the Candle of Community, and the Candle of Joy. Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We joyfully add Mary
and light this candle
on the Third Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare with Yes!
to prepare with Joy
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing the another verse of Away in a Manger.
(His mother, dear Mary, looks down as He sleeps. Her Yes to the angel, a promise she keeps. She treasures this moment, her heart full of joy. She’s holding God’s Son, her sweet baby boy.)

May you find Joy in this Advent Season.

***

Ajoseph4th Sunday, December 22, 2013
The Candle of Faith
The figure of Joseph
lectionary focus: Matthew 1:18-25

Welcome!

Today is the Fourth Sunday in Advent. Today is the final Sunday in the Season of Advent. We began the Season by lighting the Candle of Home and placing the stable in our crèche. We then added the animals to the stable and lit the Second Candle of Advent, the Candle of Community. Last Sunday, we placed the figure of Mary and lit the Candle of Joy. We have gathered a loving home, a peaceful community, and joy for the world.

This Sunday, our Bible story introduces us to Joseph. Joseph has the important roles of being Mary’s husband and being Jesus’s daddy here on earth. Last week, we noted that when Mary heard the news about being Jesus’s mother, she sang a song of YES! But this week, we hear Joseph honestly admit his fear of having such a big job. But an angel tells him Fear not! that God has chosen him for this job. And so Joseph boldly steps out in faith to take on this awesome responsibility.

We now add the figure of Joseph to our crèche. As you each get to hold him and pass him around, think about his courage, his willingness, his faith to do what God called him to do. And now Kia will place the figure of Joseph in our crèche.

Today we light the Fourth Candle in Advent. We call this Candle, the Candle of Faith. We remember Joseph and his faith; we envision our faith, ready to do what God calls us to do. And now Kia will light the four candles: the Candle of Home, the Candle of Community, the Candle of Joy, and the Candle of Faith. Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We boldly place Joseph
and light this candle
on the Fourth Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
to prepare with Faith
for the coming Christ Child.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us all in singing another verse of Away in a Manger.
(As Joseph considers the problems they face, He surely is frightened and seeking God’s grace. The angel says ‘Fear not, the Child is foretold!’ So faithfully Joseph goes forth strong and bold.)

May you be strengthened with Faith in this Advent Season.

****

Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24, 2013
or Christmas Day, Wednesday, December 25, 2013
The Christ Candle
The Angels, the Shepherds, the sheep, and the figure of Jesus
lectionary focus: Luke 2:1-20 or John 1:1-14

Here we are.
The Season of Advent is over. The Season of Christmas begins tonight.
We have spent the past four weeks lighting candles and assembling our crèche. Finn will now re-light the four blue Advent candles. We started with the Candle of Home and placed our stable. We then lit the Candle of Community and added the animals to our crèche. On the Third Sunday, we joyfully sang with Mary, adding her figure to the crèche and lighting the Candle of Joy. And this past Sunday, we listened as Joseph overcome his fear by faith, and we placed the figure of Joseph boldly beside Mary in the crèche and lit the Candle of Faith. But not all of our candles are lit and our crèche is not complete.

Tonight our Bible story gives us the glorious details of what happened on that night long ago in Bethlehem. Jesus is born!  Mary, still joyful, wraps him in a blanket and lays him in a manger. Just over the hill, shepherds watching their flocks are greeted by angels bringing good news of great joy. The shepherds and the sheep come with haste to meet Baby Jesus. And all are amazed.

We, too, are once again amazed by the story of Jesus. Tonight we fill our crèche with sheep and shepherds and angels and the Baby Jesus. As you each get to hold the figures and pass them around, consider how you fit into the story of Jesus. Over the Advent Season, as we assembled our crèche, we gathered stories of faith and joy and community and home. Our crèche reminds us that we are part of these stories, too. We fit into these stories, too. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. But we always have room in our hearts. Our hearts can be filled with faith and joy and community and home and Jesus. With Jesus there is always room. And now will you each find room for your figure in the crèche?

Finn will now light the Christ Candle. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. Will you pray with me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We fill the crèche.
We light the Christ Candle.
Jesus is born.
There is always room.
Amen

And now Miss Amanda will lead us in singing the final verse of Away in a Manger.
(Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.)

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

Being A Bridge-Builder

milo upfor Sunday, January 20, 2013
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Race Relations Sunday
Year C
lectionary focus: Isaiah 62:1-5
props: three adults to be life-size “puppets” and pantomime the opening story as you tell it

Ta-da! Good Morning and Welcome
to our Puppet Performance of Carpenter Story!
Story by singer/songwriter/storyteller David Wilcox
Starring Miss Diana and Miss Erica and Mr. Tom
Narrated and Directed by Me

“I don’t know how long it had been…”(Okay, normally I write word for word the sermon ‘script,’ but this first part is a story by David Wilcox. I received his permission to link to his story which is found on his East Asheville Hardware album. (Many thanks, David!) Click here for the words to the Carpenter Story…but come back for the stage directions and the rest of my sermon.
Stage Directions: Have two adults play the Neighbors and one the Carpenter. At the beginning, the Carpenter stands offstage; Neighbor One and Neighbor Two stand side-by-side facing the children. As you tell the story and say all of the lines, the Neighbors pantomime the actions…smiling as friends…frowning and turning backs on each other as enemies. Neighbor One steps away from the staging area when the Carpenter enters and encounters Neighbor Two. When Neighbor Two steps offstage to ‘get more wood,’ the Carpenter pantomimes building the fence, but don’t make the motions look too much like building a fence or a bridge–just building motions. When Neighbor Two returns with the ‘wood,’ Neighbor One reenters the staging area with hands outstretched and a big smile. As the Neighbors embrace, the Carpenter slowly walks away down the center aisle of the church. You the Narrator say: The neighbor looks over, and the carpenter is walking away, and the neighbor says, “Hey! Hey, I’ve got some more work for ya…” The adult playing the Carpenter turns and speaks (for the first time) loud enough for all to hear, “You’ll be fine…I’m needed elsewhere.” The Carpenter continues out the church doors and the two Neighbors smile and sit arm-in-arm to hear the rest of the sermon.)

Thank you to our life-size puppets for illustrating our story!

This weekend we celebrate the life of one of God’s followers: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Like the carpenter in the story, Dr. Martin was a bridge-builder. But not of real bridges. We call him a bridge-builder because Dr. Martin brought people together. He answered God’s call to remove the walls of fear that separate people. He answered God’s call to make connections of love and to encourage friendships.

In our Bible story today, Isaiah says, For God’s sake I will not keep silent, and for God’s sake I will not rest, until freedom for all shines around the world. Dr. Martin was not silent. Dr. Martin did not rest. We can be like Dr. Martin. We can be like the carpenter in the story. When we see people separated or groups divided, we can answer God’s call; we can speak out; we can work; we can be bridge-builders.

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 carpenters
like Dr. Martin.
Help me
to be a bridge-builder
to bring people together.
Amen

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