Tag Archives: Jesus

Accepting the Yoke

for Sunday, July 6, 2014
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
4th Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 9
Year A
lectionary focus: Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

yoke

Yoking With Friends

props: a yoke or photo of yoke from Caroline Brown (scroll to the Gospel text); a belay device or photo of belay device from the internet (try Wikipedia); a baseball glove; an airplane yoke or photo of airplane yoke (see below); or whatever modern tool you choose.

note: Three years ago, I accepted the yoke of creating this website. It has been a great adventure, keeping me close to the Trinity and bringing me close to new friends around the world. (Who is the Malta friend?) For this post, I couldn’t decide which one story to share, so there are three…but I encourage you to find your own yoke. I love how Jesus speaks to each and all of us through so many different pictures. He is always saying He is with us, He loves us.

Welcome!

Today’s word is Yoke. Everybody say Yoke. (Yoke) It is a funny sounding word. Kind of sounds like that yellowy-orangey thing inside an egg…but that is called a yolk. Yoke also sounds like a funny way to say joke…yoke, yoke, yoke…like I’m laughing weirdly. But actually a yoke is a tool. Here is a picture of one kind of yoke. (Show Caroline Brown’s yoke.) Though this is a common tool in some parts of the world, we don’t really use these too much anymore around here. We usually see them in pictures before there were cars or trucks or tractors…tractors being the clue. Without trucks and tractors to haul large loads and do heavy work, people use strong animals like oxen and horses. And if one ox or horse is good, two are better. A yoke is used to connect the two animals together to double their work effort. This part goes around their necks and this bar keeps the two animals shoulder to shoulder. Then whatever is behind the animals and connected to the harness can be pulled by both animals at the same time. Yes, it is still work for the animals, but as we know, two working together makes any job easier.

In our Bible story today, Jesus calls all of us who are tired from working hard and carrying heavy burdens, and He offers us His yoke. It sounds funny. And no, Jesus is not offering us a real harness to carry or pull heavy objects. Jesus speaks in pictures. The people in the times of Jesus knew the purpose of a yoke; those people valued yokes; and they recognized the yoke as a symbol for strength and efficiency and community. With the picture of a yoke in their minds, the people understood that Jesus was offering to help them; Jesus was promising to be with them; Jesus was ready to work beside them.

photo by J. Stewart

The belay device is actually on the other end…no one ever photographs the belayer. photo by J. Stewart

(OPTION ONE) I’ve been thinking about what modern day tool Jesus might have picked to help us picture this truth today. And since it’s summertime, of course, I started thinking of summer activities that I enjoy…like rock climbing. When doing a really big climb, people use ropes and harnesses and this tool called a belay device. Your friend stays on the ground with the belay device attached to their harness, the rope runs through the belay, up through the climbing bolts in the rocks, and to the harness on your body. The friend on the ground is called the belayer. The belayer controls the amount of slack in the rope, so if you fall, you don’t fall very far…because the belay device helps lock the rope. The belayer and the climber have to talk a lot. When the climber is ready, she calls, “On belay!” And the belayer responds, “Belay on!” The belayer gives extra rope when the climber is moving, but if the climber needs a rest, the belayer locks off the rope with the belay device…so the climber stays safe.

I wonder if today Jesus could say, “Come to Me, all of you who are tired, and I will give you rest. Belay on and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My belay is easy, and my climb is awesome.”

With that picture of a belay device in my mind, I understand that Jesus is wants to spot my climb; that He is promising to hold my rope; that Jesus is connected to me for life. And I think my answer is, “Yes, Jesus, on belay!”

Jesus calls us in many ways to share our lives with Him. Jesus promises to be with us. Jesus loves us.

Will you pray with me?*

 

IMG_4651(OPTION TWO) I’ve been thinking about what modern day tool Jesus might have picked to help us picture this truth today. And since it’s summertime, of course, I started thinking of baseball. I wonder if a baseball glove might be a good symbol. A baseball glove protects our hand when catching a ball. We can certainly use a ball stand and practice hitting a baseball by ourselves and we can catch a ball that we throw into the air, but baseball works best with a friend. Whether throwing or catching, you need someone else to do the other. Baseball is better together.

So I can imagine today Jesus offering us His baseball glove: “Come to Me, all of you who are tired, and I will give you rest. Take My baseball glove and learn from Me. For My throw is easy, and My game is awesome. Want to catch?”

With that picture of a baseball glove in my mind, I understand that Jesus is offering to work with me; that He is promising to be with me; that Jesus is on my team. And my answer is, “Yes, Jesus, I would love to catch with You.”

Jesus calls us in many ways to share our lives with Him. Jesus promises to be with us. Jesus loves us.

Will you pray with me?*

photo by B. Stewart

photo by B. Stewart

(OPTION THREE) I’ve been thinking about what modern day tool Jesus might have picked to help us picture this truth today. And I thought of a yoke. Not the ox/horse yoke, but an airplane yoke. You’ve seen how cars have a steering wheel…one steering wheel. In an airplane, there are basically two steering wheels like in this photograph here, but instead of calling them steering wheels, they are called yokes. And they are connected. When one pilot moves his yoke, the yoke of the other pilot moves the same way. In addition to steering, flying a plane involves navigating and monitoring lots of controls…so pilots are flying together by working together.

So I can imagine today Jesus offering us to fly with Him: “Come to Me, all of you who are tired, and I will give you rest. Take My airplane yoke and learn from me. For My yoke is easy, and My flight is awesome. Let’s go fly.”

With that picture of an airplane cockpit in my mind, I understand that Jesus is offering to fly with me through life; that He is promising to navigate my way; that Jesus has the wheel. And my answer is, “Yes, Jesus, let’s fly.”

Jesus calls us in many ways to share our lives with Him. Jesus promises to be with us. Jesus loves us.

Will you pray with me?*

 

*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 being yoked with me.
Thank You
for helping us
live our lives
to Your glory.
Belay on!
or Let’s catch!
or Straight out, cleared for takeoff! (how a pilot responses to the tower)
Amen

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

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Acknowledging Jesus

IMG_3209for Sunday, June 22, 2014
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 7
Year A
lectionary focus: Matthew 10:24-39
note: Over the years, my family has moved three times so we have had three opportunities to ‘shop’ for a new church. We boiled the process down to judging churches by the number of people who greeted us. I keep this in mind each Sunday, trying to greet each visitor. Even though, in our small church where we say ‘Visit us twice and we’ll put you on a committee,’ it can still be difficult to put myself out there.

Welcome!

Last summer I went on vacation to another city with my friend Susan. While we were there we went to church. We had never been to this church; we just saw it near our hotel; looked it up online to find out the worship time; and we went. It was a very nice service; the choir was excellent; and the sermon was good. But no one spoke to us. The usher did smile and give us a bulletin. But after the service, not a single person welcomed us or greeted us or anything! Susan even stopped on the church steps to take a picture and still no one spoke to us! We were quite amazed. There were probably 150 people at the service. We wondered what was wrong. We wondered if maybe we had become invisible!

In our Bible story today from the Book of Matthew, Jesus is instructing the disciples as they prepare to go preach. Jesus tells them that they must acknowledge Him in the world…just as He will acknowledge them before God. People have long wondered how we are to acknowledge Jesus in the world. When we acknowledge something, we say that thing is true…but when we acknowledge someone, we greet them. Since Jesus is a someone, He is reminding us to greet Him in the world, just as He will greet us before God. To greet Jesus, we must see and recognize Him…and I know that each of you knows where we find Jesus. Jesus is in our hearts. So to acknowledge Jesus in the world is to greet HIm in our own heart and in the hearts of each other.

During church, we take a moment to share the Peace of Christ with those around us…sometimes I feel shy speaking to people I don’t know. And after church, there are so many people and I want to get to the doughnuts and maybe those people visiting our church were sitting so far from me. But if we don’t acknowledge Jesus in the people here at church, well then, it will be even harder to do that with the people out in the world!

Now you might think that you are too young to be greeters, that you don’t have to do that, but you are certainly smart enough to see and acknowledge and greet Jesus in other people and you are children of God. I challenge you each Sunday to find at least three people…regular members or someone you’ve not met before…and greet them here at church. Just walk up the them and say, “Hey, Good to see you today.”

And on your way home, you can check with everyone in your family to see how many people they greeted. Then we each will improve the way we acknowledge Jesus in the church…and that will make us better at acknowledging Jesus in the whole world. By greeting Jesus in others, we recognize others and Jesus and ourselves as visible.

Let’s practice. Repeat after me: Good to see you today! (Good to see you today!)

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 acknowledging us.
Help us
to acknowledge You.
Help us
to greet You
in the hearts of our old friends,
our new friends,
ourselves.
It is always good
to see You
in those around us.
Amen

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

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.

The First Church Potluck?

bowlfor Sunday, May 4, 2014
3rd Sunday of Easter
Year A
lectionary focus: Luke 24:13-35
note: Don’t forget Graduation Sunday! Would this be a good Sunday to recognize those moving on to other things?
prop: casserole dish

Happy Easter!

Yes, it is still Easter. The mystery and joy of Easter are too big to celebrate in one Sunday so we continue celebrating the love of our Risen Lord. And to celebrate today, I brought this. (Show casserole dish.) I’m sure you have seen these around your kitchen. This is a casserole dish. It is large enough to hold a big lasagna or chicken spaghetti or some other yummy dish that will taste great and fill a family with love. I wonder if you have also notice that whenever something big happens, people share food. When a family has a baby born, or someone in the family is sick or had an accident, or some friends get back from a long trip, or especially when someone in a family dies, people will cook up lots of food and take it that family. Making dinner for people is a delicious way to share love. The food provides rest and comfort and nourishment and caring. You have probably heard when something big happens, people say, “What food can I bring?”

I’ve been thinking about this question as I’ve been reading the Easter story in the Bible. Did Peter and his wife take dinner to John and his family? Did Mary and Martha and Lazarus host a potluck dinner at their house? And then we have today’s Bible story. In today’s lesson from the Book of Luke, we hear how two of Jesus’s friends are walking to the village of Emmaus. Along the road, they meet Jesus. Only they don’t recognize Him. They walk and talk and share all that they are feeling about Jesus. They are so moved by their conversation with this Man that they invite Him to dinner. And there, at the table, when this Man, when Jesus breaks the bread and blesses it, their eyes are opened, and they recognize Him. When Jesus shares dinner, they feel rest and comfort and nourishment and caring. They feel His love.

I think this is why we share food with others. We know our bodies need food to grow and be strong, but Jesus shows us that we need sharing for our hearts to grow and be strong. Each time we take food to those in need or eat together…breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner…our eyes can be opened, our hearts can be opened, and we can feel the love of Jesus surround 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 feeding us
with food
and with love.
Help us
to share with others
through food and love
that we all might see
Your love
everywhere.
Amen

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

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.

An Opportunity to Share Good News

IMG_3439for Sunday, November 17, 2013
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
26th Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 28
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 21:5-19

Welcome!

All around the world, at some point each day, people seek out the News. Through newspapers, magazines, radios, televisions, computers, and phones, we are able to know what is happening in other places near and far. Sometimes the News is happy, like a prince being born in England or a parade in Boston for a world champion baseball team; sometimes the News is sad or scary like a forest fire in California or business troubles in New York or war in Afghanistan. All of our cool electronic gadgets make getting News easy and fast. But getting News is not a new thing. For thousands of years people have been paying attention to what other people are experiencing or doing or saying or thinking. We are curious people and we curious to know what else is going on…even if the news is sad or scary.

In our Bible story today, Jesus gives us wise words about hearing bad News. Jesus tells us not to get trapped by the troubles in the world, not to get paralyzed by the sad and scary things that people say or do. Jesus advises us that when we hear serious or unpleasant News, we should listen for God calling us and respond by doing what is right to make God’s world a more beautiful place. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, messaging, texting–it is so easy to know what is going on in other places. But we are NOT to be overwhelmed or terrified. Instead we are to hear challenging news as an opportunity to share God’s good news! We can take action and do His work and share His love.

God loves us and is with us each and every day. By knowing this, we can keep informed about what is going on around the world and continue to move forward building God’s Kingdom. We can be glad to use our gadgets, sharing what happens in other people’s lives and sharing God’s love with our family and friends far and near.

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 that gadgets
that give us the News.
Help us
hear the News
as an opportunity
to share the News
of Your love.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.
(and you can share, too, through FB, twitter, etc., etc., etc.)

With Jesus to the Moon and Back

print 09 5for Sunday, July 21, 2013
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
9th Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 11
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 10:38-42
inspiration: “Commoonion.” 

Good Morning!

Forty-four years ago this weekend, in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first people to walk on the moon. This was a big, exciting event, and the whole world watched as Mr. Armstrong took the first step and said the memorable words, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” But something else exciting happened BEFORE they walked on the moon. Since everyone had already put in a full day’s work with this new and technical operation of getting the spaceship on the moon, NASA had scheduled time after the landing for the astronauts to eat and get a goodnight’s sleep before their big walking adventure. But shortly after they landed, astronaut Aldrin took communion on the moon. Mr. Aldrin is an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He had arranged with his home church, Webster Presbyterian Church in Houston, TX, to carry a pinch of bread and a small chalice of wine so that in this remarkable place and in the midst of this amazing work, he could stop and express his gratitude and hope. There on the moon, Mr. Aldrin took time to acknowledge that Jesus was with him.

Our Bible story today reminds us of the importance of recognizing that Jesus is with us. In this Bible story, Jesus is visiting His friends Lazarus and Martha and Mary. Martha is busy being hostess and getting the meal ready…and Mary is just sitting and visiting with Jesus. When Martha gets upset that Mary is not working, Jesus reminds her that welcoming is not just the serving of a meal but also the reception…the being with your friends. Jesus is our friend and He invites us to be present with Him.

So every time you look at the moon, remember that astronaut Aldrin took time there to share that moment with Jesus. And the next time you are in the midst of great work…or great play, you, too, can take a moment to recognize that Jesus is with you and to share your gratitude and hope with Him. You can celebrate the presence of Jesus wherever and whenever and whoever you are.

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.
Help me
to welcome You
and be present with You
wherever
and whenever
I am.
Amen

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