Tag Archives: Lent

Lenten Series: Flour, Water, Yeast, Salt, and You (Almsgiving)

breadThe first Sunday  of Lent in our Lenten Series focussing on the Discipline of Almsgiving.
for Sunday, March 9, 2014
First Sunday in Lent
Year A
lectionary focus: Matthew 4:1-11
note: Have a big basket on the chancel steps to collect the loaves of bread brought by the children for today’s almsgiving. (You might also want to have some extra loaves to give to those children whose family forgot.)
note 2:  The opening story comes from Sleeping With Bread by Dennis Linn, Shelia F. Linn, and Matthew Linn (1995) (Google eBook)

Welcome! Such beautiful loves of bread!! Please place them here in this basket.

Long ago during World War II, there were children whose homes were destroyed and their families separated by the warfare. Those children were then kept safe in various camps. But because of the war and the destruction and the stress they were living through, many of these children had a hard time sleeping. Someone decided to give each child a piece of bread to hold during the night. The bread in their hands reminded the children that they had eaten that day and that they would have food to eat the next day. The bread reminded them that they were not alone, giving them comfort, making them feel safe, and they could sleep.

In our Bible story today from the Book of Matthew, Jesus has spent some time alone in the wilderness praying and preparing for His ministry. Because He has been out there so long, He is hungry. Satan comes to Him and tempts Him to change the rocks into bread to eat. Jesus is not one to be tricked by the Devil, but Jesus responds in a tricky way. Jesus says that man does not live by bread alone.

Now Jesus is NOT getting ready to explain the different food groups and how to eat a balanced diet. What we hear from Jesus is the reminder that we do not live our lives by ourselves. We are not alone. We live our lives WITH God and WITH each other.

We are now in the Season of Lent. During this Season, we are focussing on the discipline of almsgiving. As we find ways to make sure that others have what they need, we strengthen our relationship with God and each other. Today you brought loaves of bread. Mr. Bill and I will take all of this bread after the service down to the First Light Homeless Shelter. The guests there will enjoy this bread with their dinner tonight. They will be nourished. And in this stressful, lonely, and fearful time in their lives, they will feel comfort and safety. They will have food today and know that they will have something to eat tomorrow. But most importantly, the guests at the shelter will feel your love and God’s love. Through your gift, they will know that they are not alone.

Thank you for bringing these beautiful loaves today! Next week, we will hear the story of Nicodemus going out to meet Jesus…and so we are asking you to bring new socks for your almsgiving on next Sunday. Again, we will email you on Thursday to remind you!

Now 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 Bread.
Thank You
that we are not alone.
Please bless this Bread
as we share it with others
so they will know
our love
and Your love.
Amen

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

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Lenten Series 2013 There’s a Prayer for That…The Lord Needs It

IMG_8005for Sunday, March 24, 2013
Palm Sunday
Passion Sunday
Year C
lectionary focus: Luke 19:28-40
Note: If you have not been using our Lenten Series, you can easily modify the references to make this a stand-alone sermon.

Good Morning!
Today is Palm Sunday!

Today we celebrate Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem. We wave palm branches as they did long ago in ancient times as a sign of home and safety. But my favorite part of the parade, my favorite part of the story is the “colt.” Jesus riding the young horse reminds me of Mary riding the donkey in the story of Jesus’ birth. In all the other stories, Jesus walks or is in a boat–but today He rides a colt. And when He sends the disciples to a friend’s to get the colt, He tells them that if anyone asks why they are getting the colt, “Tell them the Lord needs it.”

We are almost to the end of the Season of Lent. Now we enter Holy Week as we prepare for the Joy and Mystery of Easter next Sunday. During the Sundays of Lent, we have been discussing prayer as a way to be close to God. Prayer is how we talk to God. We talk to God about things that make us happy, things that scare us, things we need, and things our friends need…but prayer is not a list of things we want; prayer is not directions we give to God. And today’s story of Jesus riding the colt reminds us of this. No matter what happens, no matter why we pray, God has a plan. Just as God had a plan and a need for the young horse, God has a plan and needs each of us. And whenever we pray, we tell God that we know this. Jesus taught us to pray to God saying, “Thy will be done.” This means we will do what God needs us to do. We pray and share our thoughts and feelings but we also express our faith that God has a plan for us, a purpose for us, and we trust God.

Holy Week is difficult as we remember the end of Jesus’s life on earth. We start by waving palm branches and then we walk through the dark stories of the Passion and the Crucifixion. But through all of this, we know that God has a plan. And next Sunday, we will rejoice that God’s plan as seen in the death and resurrection of Jesus includes loving each of us now and always.

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

Dear Lord,
Today we remember the parade
and we wave palm branches
and we think about the colt.
Help us
to continue to pray
sharing our thoughts and feelings
with You.
We have faith
in Your plan
for us.
Amen

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

Lenten Series There’s a Prayer for That…Costly Perfume

coffeefor Sunday, March 17, 2013
5th Sunday in Lent
lectionary focus: John 12:1-8
prop: your Church bulletin

Good morning!

Long ago in another church, I was at a planning meeting for organizing the worship service.  My friend Susan said that she was in charge of the “Pop” and asked who else wanted to help with the “Pop” and if there was anyone that needed to be included in the “Pop.” I had no idea what she was talking about! I wondered What is the “Pop”? Did we have a “Pop” in the service? Maybe it was a Who? Was it somebody’s dad? So I asked, “What are you talking about?” Susan explained that those letters P O P stood for Prayers of the People…the part of the church service where we pray for other people.

Oh! Different churches call this prayer in the service by different names. Some call it Prayers of the People…or POP; some call it Concerns of the People; some call it the Prayers for Intercession; our church calls it (insert your church’s pray name) and it comes right here in the service (show it’s place in the bulletin). But whatever it is called, every church has a time in the service to lift up prayers for others. Each Sunday we ask God to help those around us near and far.

We are now in the Season of Lent. This is the time we prepare for the Mystery and Joy of Easter. One way we prepare and work on being closer to God is through prayer. We pray to God giving Him thanks for all He gives us; we pray when we are scared asking for comfort; we pray for forgiveness to keep us clean on the inside; we pray for God to help us. But when we pray, we do not pray just for ourselves.

In our Bible story today, Jesus’s friend Mary helps Jesus…and some of the others think she is wasting her help. They say she should be helping someone who really needs help. But Jesus points out that everyone needs help. And of course, He’s right. We all need help. And we are here to help each other. One way to help is to pray for each other. When we lift up our family, our friends, even people we have never met, we are building God’s community by bringing us all closer to God. Whether we are asking God to be with someone who is having a hard time or a exciting time, we are helping make God’s world more hopeful, more peaceful, and more beautiful.

We don’t have to save our Pop prayers for church. We can put a little Pop in all of our prayers.

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 helping me.
Please Lord
help my family,
help my friends,
help all of Your children
that Your world
will be hopeful,
peaceful,
and more beautiful.
Amen

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

Lenten Series 2013 There’s a Prayer for That…Everything Has Become New!

for Sunday, March 10, 2013
4th Sunday in Lent
lectionary focus: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
prop: dryer lint or lint-catcher from the dryer hidden in a bag

Good morning!

IMG_0512We are now in the Season of Lent, the time we prepare for the Joy and Mystery of Easter. The other day, I was talking to my seven-year-old friend Zachary and he said that Lent was kind of confusing because whenever we said the word Lent he thought of lint…that fuzzy stuff you find in the dryer. This stuff (show the lint). I explained that yes, these words sound alike but their meanings are different. And while their meanings are different, I can see a connection…because…life is messy.

No matter how hard we try, things get messed up. Every time we turn around, we have to make up our beds, wash our hands, put our clothes in the laundry, clear the dining table…the list goes on. And if we don’t clean up and straighten up, our world gets dirty and nasty. But it is not just the things around us that get messy, we, too, have to clean up the mistakes we make. We hurt someone’s feelings or we break something or we think mean thoughts. And if we don’t apologize for our mistakes, our world gets sad and yucky.

But the good news is: there is a prayer for this! Our Bible story today reminds us that when we pray and ask God to forgive us all of our mistakes…little mistakes and big mistakes…that we are forgiven, we are made new. We are washed clean on the inside. The heavy stone of doing wrong is rolled away. We are happy.

Life is messy. And if we pretend that life is not messy, that we do not make mistakes, then we are tricking ourselves and we are separating ourselves from God. It is a good idea to clean up every day…wash and clean and pick up the messes around us. It is a good idea to ask God to forgive us and make us clean on the inside every day. Then we are always new and ready to share 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,
Please forgive me
all of my mistakes.
Help me
to clean up my messes.
Thank You
for making me new
and helping me
share Your love.
Amen

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

Lenten Series 2013 There’s a Prayer for That…He Will Provide the Way

IMG_3532for Sunday, March 3, 2013
3rd Sunday in Lent
lectionary focus: Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
prop: a list of people you know who need help
Note: If you are not doing this Lenten Series, no worries…you can adapt Paragraph Three to make this a stand alone sermon.

Good Morning!

Today I have a list. I’m all about some lists. On this list, I have:
1) My mom has a new phone.
2) My friend Tammy has a farm and recently one of her sheep was very sick.
3) Zach got a new student in his class this past week.
4) It’s time to prune my Grandmother’s roses.
5) The church refrigerator is broken.
6) Kristen and Jon just had a baby boy named Will.
7) My daughter has a big test and a project due on the same day this week.
and 8) I am doing the children’s sermon today.

I wonder if you can tell what all of the people on this list have in common…if you can tell what is the same about these people on my list. … Each of these people needs help: help with a new phone; help healing a sick sheep; making friends; gardening; to fix things; taking care of children; to study; help with sharing. That’s a lot of help. But every day, everybody needs some help. None of us can do every thing by ourselves.

We are now in the Season of Lent. As we prepare for the Joy and Mystery of Easter, we have been looking at different kinds of prayers. Prayer is how we get close to God. We’ve talked about prayers to Thank God and prayers to let God know we are scared. I guess you can figure out what kind of prayer we’re discussing today: prayers when you need help.

Our Bible story today tells us to seek God for God gives us help and will provide a way to the solution. Each of those people on my list is seeking God’s help. They are praying for help. When you have a problem, you can pray to God and ask for His help. God loves each of us and God wants to help each of us. And He helps us in many ways: through family, friends, or repairmen; or by helping us figure it out; or by just being with us and giving us comfort. When we pray to God asking for help, we open ourselves to be closer to God. When we pray to God asking for help, we are strengthened and can face all of our problems, responsibilities, adventures, and joys with a bold and confident heart.

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

Dear Lord,
I need Your help.
Help me
solve problems,
work hard,
and share Your love.
Thank You
for helping me.
Amen

Dear Lord, Thank You for helping me do this sermon. Amen

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

Lenten Series 2013 There’s a Prayer for That…Whom Shall I Fear?

for Sunday, February 24, 2013
2nd Sunday in Lent
Lent 2013
Year C
lectionary focus: Psalm 27

Good morning!

We are now in the Season of Lent. During Lent, we prepare for the Mystery and Joy of Easter by working on the disciplines of our faith. Last week we talked about being close to God through the discipline of prayer. We were reminded that we should pray and say Thank You to God for the good things He gives us. Not just for the food we eat, but for our family and friends, for anything good that we have or that happens. Today I’d like to continue talking about prayer by telling you about my dog.

IMG_6309

My dog is a great dog. She is big and black and barks real loud to protect us from squirrels. But my dog does not like storms. When there is lightning and thunder, she starts to shake. She comes and stands real close to us. Sometimes she will even try to get into our laps…and she is much too big for that. Now being right next us, doesn’t mean my dog stops being scared. I think my dog just knows that being scared is not so scary when you are with someone.

People get scared too. I get scared. Each of those people out there get scared. (Nod to the congregation.) We are scared in the dark; we are scared of being left out; we are scared of being hurt; of getting in trouble; of people looking at us; being made fun of; and even storms. But the way to make being scared not so scary is to share our fear with God. When we pray to God and tell Him we are scared, we don’t stop being scared, but we feel comfort. We are reminded that even in scary times, God is with us. Throughout the Bible, we hear stories of God’s people being afraid. Today’s story is a prayer reminding us that through our prayers God will fill our hearts with courage and we will be strong and stand firm with God. Being scared is not so scary when we are with someone. And God is with you.

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

Dear God,
Help me remember
that when I am scared,
You are with me.
Help me remember
that when I am scared,
You are with me.
Thank You
for being with me.
Amen

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

Lenten Series 2013 There’s a Prayer for That…Celebrate the Bounty!

Last year for Lent, I suggested Packing Away the Alleluia. This year I offer seeing Lent as a Time of Prayer. Each sermon will highlight a different type of prayer as related to that week’s lectionary text. While the Lenten texts do connect to one phrase of the Lord’s Prayer each week (as noted by Carolyn Brown–click here and scroll down to her second Lenten theme), I am going more general in my focus. I do, however, love the idea of a congregation-wide challenge to Pray the Lord’s Prayer every day. As my friend Jill said, “Think of the power of the entire church praying the same prayer every day during the Season of Lent!”

Here is an outline of my sermons…I hope you will return to see where this season takes us. Peace.
for the 1st Sunday–February 17,  Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Celebrate the bounty!
for the 2nd Sunday–February 24,  Psalm 27 Whom shall I fear?
for the 3rd Sunday–March 3,  1 Corinthians 10:1-13 He will provide the way.
for the 4th Sunday–March 10,  2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Everything has become new.
for the 5th Sunday–March 17,  John 12:1-8 Mary took a pound of costly perfume.
for Psalm Sunday–March 24,  Luke 19:28-40 The Lord needs it.
(And for Easter–March 31, John 20:2,4; Luke 24:12 Running Forward!)

There’s a Prayer for That…Celebrate the Bounty!
for Sunday, February 17, 2013
1st Sunday in Lent
Year C
lectionary focus: Deuteronomy 26:1-11
inspiration: Sid Burgess/The Pastor’s Peace/February 2013 (to be posted soon)

Good Morning!

baseballThis past week something very special happened. This past week, the call went out for “Pitchers and Catchers to report!” This means that Major League baseball players have started reporting for Spring Training. And when it is Spring Training, that means Baseball Season is getting close. And when it is Baseball Season, that means we are done with winter!

This past week, we also began the Season of Lent. Lent is the time we prepare for the Mystery and Joy of Easter. During these six weeks, people work on improving the disciplines of their faith. One discipline people study is prayer. Praying in how we talk to God. Praying is how we get close to God. When we pray, we recognize that God is with us.

In our Bible story today, we are reminded that the Lord gives us many good things. And when we receive something, it is appropriate for us to say Thank You. We are saying Thank You to God when we pray the blessing before a meal. But we can say Thank You to God at other times for other things. When we say our bedtime prayers, we can thank God for the good things that have happened during the day. We can thank God when we hear good news, or find something that was lost, or see something beautiful, or enjoy being with a friend. Taking a moment to celebrate all the bounty that the Lord gives us helps us realize the abundance of blessings around us. And with this gratitude and thanksgiving, we become more generous in sharing with others. And in sharing with others, we become stronger as children of God.

So I call on each of you to focus on your prayers during this Season of Lent. Thank God for the good things in your life.

Will you pray with me? And in my family, when we thank God with the blessing before a meal, we hold hands. So will you hold hands with someone near you? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for all the good things
You give to me.
Help me
to say Thank You
with a grateful heart.
And thank You
for baseball.
Amen

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