Tag Archives: John

We See His Love

windowtreefor Sunday, April 27, 2014
2nd Sunday of Easter
Year A
lectionary focus: John 20:19-31

Welcome!

The other day I was working at my computer. I stopped to think for a few minutes and found myself staring out the window. I can see a big tree from there. Its leaves are new and just unfolded. As I watched, it looked like the tree was dancing! The branches were swaying slightly and the leaves were wiggling, popping up and down and all around. Now, we know that the tree was not dancing. We know that the branches and leaves were being moved by the wind. And yet, we can see the tree and leaves, but we cannot see the wind. We know the wind is there by seeing what the wind does.

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter. Alleluia! (Alleluia!) The mystery and joy of Easter are so great that we cannot celebrate it all in just one Sunday. In our Bible story today, Jesus is risen from the dead and has been visiting with the disciples. But one disciple was not there: Thomas. We don’t know exactly why he wasn’t there, but we do hear that  when the disciples told Thomas about seeing Jesus, Thomas had some trouble believing. The mystery and joy of Easter was too great for him. He wanted to see Jesus, too. He wanted to touch Him. The Bible story goes on that Thomas does get to see Jesus. Jesus is not angry or disappointed that Thomas hesitated to believe the others; Jesus simply reaches out to Thomas, saying, “Do not doubt but believe.” I have felt like Thomas. How nice it would be to see Jesus walk into my house. How nice to touch Him and hear His voice.

But when I think about the wind, I know I don’t have to see Jesus to believe. Just as I know the wind is there by seeing what the wind does, I look around for what Jesus does. All of the things around us: smiling people, flowers, the blue sky, sunshine, rain, friends, doughnuts, family, ways for us to help others, singing, a phone call, a good book, learning, laughing, loving; all of these things show us that we don’t need to see Jesus. We see His world. We see His love. We see Jesus by seeing what His love does. Jesus simply reaches out to us through all that is around us, saying, “Believe.”

Our Lord, our God. He is with us. He is in us. His love is our world. Let us continue to rejoice in the mystery and joy of Easter.

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
that we see Your love
all around us.
Help us
to help others
see Your love
all around them.
Amen

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

We Are His Flowers

easter14for Sunday, April 20, 2014
Resurrection of the Lord
Easter Day
Year A
lectionary focus: John 20:1-18

Happy Easter! Alleluia! (Alleluia!) Look at all of the flowers! We have filled so many vases! The flowers make the sanctuary look lovely, and after our service, we will deliver them to members of our church family who are sick and ill and cannot be here today. Thank you for sharing with them in this way.

The flowers you have brought come from many places. Some of you got them at the store, some from the farmers’ market, some from your yard, some from your gardens. But each of them came from God’s earth. Flowers are part of plants. Flowers have the important job of making seeds; the seeds are how the plant makes more plants. And each year, each plant makes more flowers to make more seeds. Flowers are part of the beautiful cycle of God’s green earth. Flowers are God’s beautiful creations. And flowers make people smile.

Today is Easter Sunday. Alleluia! (Alleluia!) The Easter story begins with Jesus’s friends being sad. Jesus has died on the cross. The women are going to the cemetery to finish the funeral service. When they get there, something seems very wrong. The stone door has been moved and the tomb is empty. Jesus’s friends think someone has taken the body of Jesus. There is much confusion. Mary stands there in the cemetery, crying and frustrated. She sees a man. Mary thinks He must be the gardener…

Now we know that a gardener’s job is make sure the plants have what they need to grow and bloom and be beautiful. Gardeners work hard to make sure the plants are well cared for. Our Bible story today does not describe the cemetery, so I don’t know if the first Easter was abloom with so many flowers like our sanctuary today. But when Mary thinks that Man is just the gardener, she is wrong…but she is right. That Man, of course, is Jesus, alive, risen from the dead. That Man is not the gardener of the cemetery; that Man is Jesus, the gardener of the whole world, and we are His flowers. Jesus cares for us, making sure we have what we need to grow and bloom and be beautiful. You are each God’s beautiful creation. And Jesus is the Gardener who cares for us.

During the past few weeks as we have prepared for the mystery and joy of Easter, we  have practiced Almsgiving. We have shared items with those in need that they may know God’s love. Today is Easter. Alleluia! (Alleluia!) Today is why we are here every Sunday. Today Jesus overcame all of the sorrow and cruelty and trouble of the world so that we live beautiful, everlasting lives. Today we begin the Seven Sundays of Easter…because Easter is too big to celebrate for just one Sunday. Today we are overcome by the mystery and joy of Easter. And today we reach out again with almsgiving; we share these flowers here in these vases, but we also pledge to continue sharing ourselves. Mary was right. Jesus is the Gardener of the whole world. We are His beautiful flowers, here to share His love and make others smile.

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 flowers.
Thank You
for being our Gardener.
Help us
to continue sharing Your love
throughout Easter,
throughout our lives,
in the garden of Your world.
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: On Top of Your Head (Almsgiving)

IMG_3858for Sunday, March 30, 2014
4th Sunday in Lent
Year A
lectionary focus: John 9:1-41
note: This is part of our Lenten Almsgiving Series; you will need a basket to collect the eyeglasses. We will be giving the old prescription lens to our local Lions Club and the new reading glasses to one of our shelters. The opening story will work with eyeglasses or sunglasses.

Welcome! See all of the eyeglasses! Thank you! Thank you! Here put them in this basket. Wow. So many for our almsgiving. Thank you.

Yesterday I went looking for my own glasses. Since I only need them to read and see things up close, I put them down and sometimes forget where they are. I looked beside the bed because I had used them reading the night before. Not there. I looked in my purse. Not there. I looked in the kitchen. Not there. I looked beside the computer. Not there. So I went to my husband and said, “Have you seen my glasses? I can’t find them anywhere!” And Mr. Bill said, “I see them. They are on top of your head.” (You can act this out and end with them on top of your head.)

In our Bible story today, Jesus heals a man who was blind, someone who had never been able to see his whole life. This miracle caused quite a stir. The people argued about how it had happened and when it had happened and who was this Jesus. But the man who had been blind was not confused. He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he praised Jesus.

Seeing with our eyes is important. Through our eyes, we see where we are going and what we are doing and whom we are with. But Jesus did not work just to heal those blind in their eyes. Jesus lived His life that we all are able to see the Kingdom of God with our hearts. Jesus is the light of the world, and through His teachings and blessings and love, we each are able to see with our hearts all of the beauty of God’s world around us. And seeing God’s world, we want to share God’s love with each other.

Today we have collected eyeglasses. As tools, these will help others see with their eyes more clearly; as gifts, these will help others see God’s love with their hearts. Thank you for your almsgiving that we all might see and share God’s Kingdom.

Next Sunday, we will hear a story about a best friend so we are asking you to bring dog food and cat food and pet treats.

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 our eyes that see.
Thank You
for our hearts that see.
Please bless our almsgiving
that others my see Your Kingdom
and know Your love.
Amen

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

Lenten Series: Living Love (Almsgiving)

IMG_6494for Sunday, March 23, 2013
3rd Sunday in Lent
Year A
lectionary focus: John 4:5-42
notes: Have extra cups (and extra cups of coins) ready before the service. We are using Red cups for accent. 

Welcome!

Look at all the Cups of Coins! Everybody rattle your coins in your cups! Such a joyful noise! Now everybody pour your coins into this big basket. What a marvelous sound! It is so loud and tinkly. (Collect all of the coins into one big basket; you might want to have an older youth collect the now empty cups to keep them from being a distraction.) But these Cups of Coins don’t sound anything like water, do they?

Our Bible Story today sounds like it is about water. In the Gospel of John, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well, the place where the people get their water since they don’t have sinks with faucets. Every day the people have to go to the well to get water that they use for drinking and cooking. Every day. Back and Forth. Jesus points out to the woman that everyone who drinks the water from the well will be thirsty again. Then Jesus tells her that He has Living Water, water that becomes in us a spring gushing up to eternal life.

Like our Cups of Coins, this Living Water doesn’t sound like water at all.

Many times in the Bible, stories speak of one thing but mean something else. In this story, Jesus says Living Water, but He is really talking about God’s love. Our bodies need water to live; each day we get thirsty to remind ourselves to drink what our bodies need. But we also need God’s love. And the joy Jesus shares is this, we are never without God’s love. God’s love fills us like a big, old bucket that never empties. God’s love just grows more and more. The more of God’s love that we share, the more of God’s love that we experience. Living Water is really Living Love.

The Cups of Coins that you brought today will be used to share water AND God’s love. There are people around the world who do not have the clean drinking water our bodies need. We will send our Cups of Coins to Living Waters for the World. Through this organization, we will help dig wells in these communities. Through this organization, we will share God’s love. Today your almsgiving gives others what they need: water for living and living water. I like the sound of that. Thank you.

Next Sunday, we ask you to bring eyeglasses: either old prescription glasses that are no longer needed or a pair of new reading glasses that you choose from the store. We will SEE how those connect with our Bible story next week.

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 water to drink.
Thank You
for water to live.
Thank You
for Your love
that never ends.
Bless those
who need drinking water
that we may also show them
Your endless love.
Amen

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

Come and See! Come and Do!

IMG_2515for Sunday, January 19, 2014
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Year A
lectionary focus: John 1:29-42

Hello!

This weekend we are celebrating the life and work of a man who lived a long time ago; not as long ago as Jesus, but back when your grandparents were young. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher who wanted the world to be a better place where people are kind to each other no matter where they come from or how they look. Dr. King travelled around the country and got people talking and marching and doing work to make changes. Dr. King gave a now-famous speech where he shared his dream of a beautiful world…a beautiful world where different people sit at the table together; where there is freedom and justice for everyone; where the glory of the Lord shall be seen by all together. But his words were not just painting a picture for our minds, he was asking us to come and be a part of the work of sharing God’s love. Though that speech is fifty years old, Dr. King’s words still invite us to be part of the work to make that dream real every day.

In our Bible story today, Jesus is beginning His ministry. People are curious and want to know what is happening, what is He doing, who is He? Jesus give a simple but beautiful answer, “Come and see.” Jesus doesn’t answer with lots of words describing this and that. Jesus invites people to come and see what is happening, to come and be a part of the action, to come and do the work of sharing God’s love. Jesus knows that actions speak louder than words…and so He invites us to be a part of the action, part of the doing. Come and see; come and do!

This weekend, as we celebrate Dr. King and his work, we are reminded that Jesus continues to call us to do God’s work. Sharing God’s love is not just something from long ago in the Bible or even fifty years ago, but something of now, today, tomorrow…every day of your life and beyond. We are invited. Now let’s see how you will  come and make the world a more beautiful place through sharing God’s love.

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 inviting me
to be a part of Your beautiful world.
Help me
to make the dream be real
now
and tomorrow.
Amen

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

Always Room For More

3kingfor Sunday, January 5, 2014
2nd Sunday after Christmas / Epiphany
Year A
lectionary focus: Matthew 2:1-12 or John 1:1-9

Merry Christmas!

Today we meet again around our creche. We spent the Season of Advent lighting candles and gathering the figures of the animals and Mary and Joseph. Then on Christmas, we lit the Christ candle and placed the figures of the shepherds and sheep and angels and the Baby Jesus. We said that our creche was complete. And yet today, we are adding more figures. Whoa! Wait! What? Today we celebrate Epiphany–the day the Wise Men came to honor the Baby Jesus. They did not arrive as quickly as the shepherds because the Wise Men travelled by camel, a very cool, but very slow way to move. Here are their figures. Pass them around and see how they look with their fine robes and sparkly crowns. The celebration of Epiphany so many days after Christmas reminds us that Christmas is never really completed. Christmas is all about the work of making room for others–not just on one day, but every day. There is always room for more.

Yes, soon we will begin packing up the Christmas decorations and putting away the creche, but Christmas goes on and on even without the decorations. Jesus came to change our lives forever by helping us to discover that we have room to include others and to realize that we have plenty of God’s love to share with others. Now Billy and Bobby and Buddy can find room for the three Wise Men beside the creche. And we can keep room in our hearts.

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
that there is more room.
Help me
to do the work of Christmas
and to realize
to discover
and to share
Your love
with others.
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.

Your Mom Prays for You

for Sunday, May 12, 2013
7th Sunday of Easter
Mother’s Day
Year C
lectionary focus: John 17:20-26

(note: If you used my Lenten Series on Prayer, this would be a good time to remind the children that prayer is something we always do, it is a continuous part of how we connect with God and with each other.)

IMG_5126Good Morning!
Today is Mother’s Day. Today we celebrate our moms and thank them for all they do for us. I was talking to your moms and I asked them to share with me what they do for all of you. Your moms do a lot! Your moms go to work; they do chores; they go to the grocery store; they keep track of what is going on and where things are; they plan things; they clean up things; they study; they learn; they teach. Moms do a lot of different things. But one thing that all the moms told me, one thing that each one does every day…every single day, your mom prays for you. Yes, you! Your mom prays every day that no matter what happens–good, sad, or scary–that God will be with you and keep you strong and feeling loved. Your moms do lots of things, but each one of them said she lifts up her children in prayer each day.

In our Bible story today, Jesus prays for his friends. When we listen to His words we hear that He is praying not just for those around Him then, but for everyone–all the people then, since then, now, and in the future. Jesus prays that God’s children will be united as one family and that God’s children will know that they are loved by God. Jesus knows that being family with those around us…at home and church and school…will help us feel God’s love during the good, the sad, and the scary.

Moms are following Jesus’ example when they pray for their children. And we can complete the circle and pray for our moms, too. We can lift up our moms in prayer asking God to be with them, keeping them strong and feeling loved. Today we celebrate Mom and let her know she is special to us. But just as every day she prays for you, you can pray for her every day.

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 my mom.
Be with her
and keep her strong.
Let her know
that You love her
and that I do, too.
Amen

We are not Christians alone.
My mission is to share, inspire, and encourage.
Happy Mother’s Day!

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.