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Going through Doors to a Happy New Year!

for Sunday, January 1, 2012
First Sunday after Christmas Year B
New Year’s Day
lectionary focus: Psalm 148:1-14; Psalm 8
inspiration: Doors are BIG on New Year’s Day from Carolyn at Worshiping with Children
props: Gather the children at the main doors to the sanctuary. (Ours are in the back behind the pews.) The doors can be opened or closed, but you may want to have an usher there ready to assist late-comers so they do not become part of your presentation. Have a banner ready to hang across and above the door: Christ’s Hope and Peace and Joy and Love to You! (or the blessing of your choice)

Hey Everybody! Today we are not meeting on the chancel steps; today, we are meeting here in the back of the church at the doors to the sanctuary. Today is New Year’s Day. Happy New Year! I’ve always thought this an odd day. We call it NEW but it doesn’t seem any different than yesterday: the weather is about the same; we look the same…and yet we now get out new calendars and learn to write a new year number.

But New Year’s is like a door. We have just celebrated Christmas and filled our hearts with hope and peace and joy and love. Christ is born! The Light of the World is here! And now it is time — the New Year’s time — for us to go out into the world and carry all of this goodness with us. When we put away the Christmas decorations, we do not put away the blessings of Christ’s birth. So today, let us start the New Year at the door to our church, writing this blessing above the door: Christ’s Hope and Peace and Joy and Love to You! And at your home, you can make a banner for your front door — so that each time you go out and come in, you will remember the new life we have in Christ and carry the blessings of Christmas with you into the world and into the New Year.

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 blessings of Christmas.
Help me
to share Your blessings
with everyone
as I go through these doors
into the world
and into the New Year.
Amen

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

Advent and Christmas Eve 2011

This post contains 5 sermons covering the 4 Sundays of Advent and Christmas Eve. In the language of Godly Play, we need time to get ready for the mystery of Christmas. My church uses the children’s sermon time to light the Advent Wreath candles: the children gather on the chancel steps; we review the previous candle’s theme; we present today’s theme and message; we light the candles using an echo prayer; and we end singing the third verse of Away in a Manager. My church also uses new church members/families to light the candles each week, and the family with the newest baby lights the candles on Christmas Eve. I hope that you will be able to adapt these sermons to your own worship time.

1st Sunday in Advent–Nov 27–Hope–Mark 13:24-37
2nd Sunday in Advent–Dec 4–Peace–2 Peter 3:8-15a
3rd Sunday in Advent–Dec 11–Love–John 1:6-8, 19-28
4th Sunday in Advent–Dec 18–Joy–Luke 1:26-38
Christmas Eve–Dec 24–Christ is Born!–Luke 2:1-20

1st Sunday in Advent–November 27, 2011
The Candle of Hope
lectionary focus: Mark 13:24-37

Welcome to the First Sunday in Advent!

Advent is the church season when we prepare ourselves for the joyful mystery of Christmas. As this takes time, we have four Sundays in Advent. Each week we will talk about how to prepare our hearts for Christmas and we will light one more candle in our Advent wreath. This Sunday we will be lighting the first candle which is the Candle of Hope.

Our Bible Story today tells us to be prepared for God, to expect God, to be filled with hope. Now, I have always thought hope meant there was something that we wanted but we might not get it: I hope it snows; I hope I have fun today. I thought hope was a whiny feeling that was also a bit scary…but boy, was I wrong! The word hope means that bubbly, fizzy, crazy excitement we have about knowing we are getting something! It is the anticipation, the expectation for something good that we know will happen. We have a saying in our culture about “having butterflies in our stomach,” when we are so excited it feels like butterflies are flapping around inside us! There is a great poet who said, “Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul.” (Emily Dickinson, 254)

Wow! Hope is not just having one Advent candle; hope is having a whole sky of fireworks lighting up our hearts! God’s hope is excitement because it will happen. This is how God wants us to be ready for Christmas. This is how God wants us to be ready to live each day. God wants us to be filled with hope like we are going to burst with excitement about carrying the love and joy of Christmas in our hearts every day.

(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: Today Miles and his grandfather will light our candle.)
While we now light the first candle of Advent, will you repeat after me?
(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light this candle
on the first Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must prepare
with a bursting hope
for the coming of the Christ child.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third 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.)

2nd Sunday in Advent–December 4, 2011
The Candle of Peace
lectionary focus: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

Today is the Second Sunday in Advent!

Last Sunday, we lit the first candle, the Candle of Hope. We talked about hope being that excited expectation of what we know will happen; we are bursting with hope for the mystery of Christmas.

When I was a child, the place where I lived did not get much snow. When I grew-up, I lived in western North Carolina and we got lots of snow. My first winter there, we got 18 inches in one day! I was amazed to learn that snow is very quiet. Now, when it rains, we can hear it. The rain beats on the roof; the rain hits the windows; the rain rattles in the downspouts; and don’t forget the sound of thunder! But when it snows, it is silent. You can’t tell it is happening unless you are watching it. We would sit and watch the snow fall and fall and fall and never hear it. And then, when everything is covered in snow, everything else gets quiet, too. I was amazed that something so silent could change everything so completely.

Our candle for the second Sunday in Advent is the Candle of Peace. We prepare ourselves for Christmas by having Peace. Like snow, peace comes quietly. We do not hear it, and yet when there is peace, it changes everything, making the world get quiet and look so beautiful. Our Bible story today calls us to wait for God with peace. Yes, we are to be filled to bursting with hope, but we are to be changed with peace. As we prepare ourselves for the joyful mystery of Christmas, we carry an excited hope wrapped in a beautiful blanket of quiet peace.

(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: This Sunday our new members, the Atwood family, will light our candles.)
While we now light the first and second candles of Advent, will you repeat after me?
(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light these candles
on the second Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must prepare
with a quiet peace
for the coming of the Christ child.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third 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.)

3rd Sunday in Advent–December 11, 2011
The Candle of Love
lectionary focus: John 1:6-8, 19-28

Today we will be lighting the third candle of Advent! Just one more Sunday before Christmas! So far we have lit the first candle of Advent, the Candle of Hope, and the second candle of Advent, the Candle of Peace. Today we will light the third candle, the Candle of Love. In our Bible story today, we hear of Jesus’s cousin, John. John was just a bit older than Jesus. When they were grown up, John went out in the world to prepare the people for the preaching of Jesus–to tell people that Jesus was coming to save the world. The people listened to John and then asked him, “What are we supposed to do? How are we to get ready for Jesus?” I think it is perfect that on this Sunday with the story of John that we have the Candle of Love. Because love is the answer. Love is what God wants us to do. And love is doing. Love is not just a feeling, it is an action. We do love by helping and sharing and laughing to show our feelings of love to God and to each other.

(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: Today the three Lindseys will light our three candles.)
While we now light the first, second, and third candles of Advent, will you repeat after me?
(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light these candles
on the third Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must prepare
with a loving heart
for the coming of the Christ child.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third 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.)

4th Sunday in Advent–December 18, 2011
The Candle of Joy
lectionary focus: Luke 1:26-38

Welcome! Today we light the last of the Advent candles…our preparation is almost over. We have lit the Candles of Hope, and Peace, and Love. Today we will light the Candle of Joy. Ah, joy! It seems funny to prepare for Christmas with joy as joy is what happens on Christmas. And preparing for something is supposed to be work. And work is supposed to be hard…not joyful and fun? In our Bible story today, we hear about Mary learning that she will be the mother of Jesus. Being a mother is a lot of work. I would think Mary would be a little scared and worried about all the work she was going to have to do. But Mary responds with excitement. She is bursting with hope, yet wrapped in peace, and filled with love that she will get to do this great work. Mary is joyful to do this great work: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord!” Each of us should do our work with such joy. And I don’t mean just the fun things we do to prepare for Christmas or work here at church; I mean our chores around the house and our work at school. God calls each of us to do all sorts of work–and some of it is hard work–but if we respond with joy then it doesn’t seem like work at all. When we prepare ourselves by carrying hope, and peace, and love, and joy…we are ready to serve God in the way He calls us to make the world a more beautiful place.

(If you are using special friends to light the candles, a brief introduction of them is appropriate: Lighting our four candles today are some of our college students who have come home for the holidays.)
While we now light the first, second, third, and fourth candles of Advent, will you repeat after me?
(This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light these candles
on the fourth Sunday in Advent
to remind ourselves
that we must prepare
with joy
for the coming of the Christ child.
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third 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.)

Christmas Eve–December 24, 2011
The Christ Candle–Christ is Born!
lectionary focus: Luke 2:1-20

Merry Christmas!

We began our Advent season a long time ago, four weeks ago. We have talked about Advent being the season to prepare for the joyful mystery of Christmas, the season of waiting for Christmas. In sign language, the sign for waiting is THIS…your hands in front of you and wiggling your fingers. Wait. Can you do that with me?

As we waited for Christmas, we lit the four candles of Advent. Tonight we have the Garcia family with Jon and Maria and Grace and new baby Anna to help us light the candles. First they will relight the four Advent candles. We remember the first Candle of Hope–we are bursting with a knowing hope; we remember the second Candle of Peace–we are quietly changed by peace; we remember the third Candle of Love–we are prepared to do love; we remember the fourth Candle of Joy–we work with joy. I think we are prepared for Christmas!

But wait (sign wait)! What about tonight’s candle? The white candle is called the Christ Candle. In the Bible stories of the birth of Jesus, one of my favorite parts is the shepherds. Those guys were out on a regular night, doing their regular job, watching the sheep. The Bible tells us that in the middle of this regular work night, the angels filled the skies singing about the birth of Jesus. The shepherds were afraid! But the angels told them to Fear Not! That the Jesus was born and the world was filled with hope and peace and love and joy. The Bible tells us that after the angels left the shepherds, the shepherds looked at one another and went with haste to meet the Baby Jesus. The shepherds did not wait. The shepherds hurried. They hurried to meet the joy of the world. The sign language sign for hurry is THIS moving your hands as the letter H up and down. Notice how much it looks like wait. Notice how easy it is to move from waiting to hurrying. And so tonight we end our wait and hurry to the mystery of Christmas, hurry to meet the Baby Jesus. And so the Garcia family will now hurry and light the Christ Candle. And as they do, will you repeat after me? (This is an echo prayer: the leader says a line and the children repeat it.)

Dear Lord,
We light the Christ Candle.
We end our Advent waiting.
We are prepared
for the mystery of Christmas.
We hurry to welcome the Baby Jesus.
Alleluia
Alleluia
Amen

And now we will sing Away in a Manger.
(Everyone sings the third 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.
Thank you for visiting my blog.
I’d love to hear how you have used these sermons.
Merry Christmas!
And a Peaceful New Year!

A Thanksgiving Story

Last Sunday after Pentecost
Christ the King (Reign of Christ)
Thanksgiving Week
for Sunday, November 20, 2011
lectionary focus: Matthew 25:31-46

Good morning.

I like to celebrate each day as a holiday, as a holy day. But we are now at the time of year where our calendar is full of holidays. This week our whole country will stop and celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Families and friends all over will get together and eat turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie. People will count their blessings one by one, giving thanks to God for all of their happiness.

Our Bible story today is a Thanksgiving Story. In fact, it is a Thank You card from Jesus. Jesus thanks you and me for feeding Him and clothing Him and welcoming Him and giving Him medicine and just hanging-out with Him. But wait? Jesus was a man on Earth 2,000 years ago; we live here now. How could we have fed Him and clothed Him then? Because Jesus is also alive today. He is alive in our hearts–in my heart, in your heart, in everybody’s hearts. So whatever we do to each other, we are, in essence, doing unto Jesus. By feeding others, by giving clothes, by just hanging-out with others, we are welcoming Jesus today, here and now. Jesus wants us to know that He appreciates our kindness to Him through our family and friends and neighbors near and far. Jesus knows that sometimes it is hard to recognize Him in others; other people may have Jesus hidden away inside themselves. But we know where Jesus lives. And we must treat others as if we are serving Jesus Himself because, as Jesus tells us in this story, we are. Of course, we want to treat Jesus very well!

So this holiday and every holy day, as we offer our thanksgiving for all of our blessings, let us also generously share food, and clothing, and peace, and love, and joy, that we may be worthy of Jesus saying Thank you to us.

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for Your gratitude.
Help me
to see You in others
that I may be worthy
of Your thanks.

Amen

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

Wrapped or Unwrapped?

22nd Sunday after Pentecost
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 28
for November 13, 2011
lectionary focus: Matthew 25:14-30
prop: a wrapped present

Happy Day!

This afternoon I am going to a party. This is the present that I am taking to Patricia. Now when I give her this, do you think she will open it or do you think she will keep it wrapped up? Of course she will open it! I hope that she will use it and enjoy it. I would be sad if she just hid it away without unwrapping it.

God gives us many gifts: family, friends, happiness. He also gives each of us special gifts. You may be skilled at laughing or running or listening or solving problems. In our Bible story today, we are reminded that God wants us to use these strengths, to share them, to develop them. He would not be happy if we kept His gifts hidden away, if we did not use the talents He gives us. God has faith in you that you can use your talents to make the world better, and He calls us to risk using them boldly. Each of you are growing and realizing the gifts that God has given you. And God is so happy when you use your talents, when you share them, when you develop them.

So let us make God happy!
Let us make the world a better place!
Let us boldly open ourselves and share our God-given talents!

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for giving me gifts.
Help me
to see my talents,
to grow my talents,
to share my talents.
Amen

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

Again Two for One

All Saints’ Day
or
21st Sunday after Pentecost
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 27
for Sunday, November 6, 2011
note: Many churches celebrate All Saints’ Day on the Sunday closest to November 1st. Here are two sermons: the first using the lectionary for November 1; the second using the lectionary for November 6.

Sermon #1    Blessed are We
lectionary focus: Matthew 5:1-12; 1 John 3:1-3
inspiration: http://unlikelyconversation.blogspot.com/search/label/All%20Saints 
(The Latin word beatus does not have an etymological connection to the English word beauty, but I believe we are each God’s beautiful, holy creation; and, as in the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, we must in turn make the world a more beautiful place.)

Welcome!

In church we use the word ‘blessings’ a lot. We talk about the blessings we have, all of the good things God has given us: our health, our families, our friends, our homes, our happiness. In our Bible story today, Jesus gives a list of blessings: blessed are the poor, blessed are the sad, blessed are the tired. But wait, these don’t sound like happy things. We don’t want to be poor or sad or tired. Listen, because this passage is special; it is called the Beatitudes. This word Beatitudes comes from the Latin word beatus which means blessed or happy. This passage teaches us that we are ALL children of God whether we are rich or poor, happy or sad, healthy or tired. As His children we are all His holy creations. We are all His saints now as we will be His saints in heaven. And as His blessed saints, we in turn share His love and make the world a more beautiful place.

inspired graffiti in my city

Today is called All Saints’ Sunday. Today we remember all of God’s children who lived before us and who live now. We think particularly about those in our church family who have died this past year, like…(name those in your church who have died). We are thankful that they made the world a more beautiful place by sharing God’s love with us. We think, too, about ourselves. We think about how we are God’s holy creations. We may not yet know all of the ways we will make the world a more beautiful place. But we do know, that no matter what, God sees each of us as His children and He loves each of us.

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 creating us
as Your blessed children.
(Thank You
for the life of…name members of your church who have died.)
Help me
to be Your saint
and to make the world
a more beautiful place
by sharing Your love.
Amen

Sermon #2     Be Prepared!
lectionary focus: Matthew 25:1-13

Good morning!

When I was your age, I had a problem with falling into water. If we were near a river or a lake or an ocean or just a fountain, I usually fell in and got wet. So my Mom always had a change of dry clothes for me; in fact, even though I’m a grown-up now and my Mom is a grandmother, we tease that she STILL has a change of my clothes with her. But that’s what Moms do. Moms are prepared for what their kids need. And that is why most Moms carry a BIG purse. They need a big purse to carry: Kleenex, keys, Chapstick, gum, pennies, paper, pens, cellphone, information cards, combs, pictures, snacks, toys, books, hairbands, hand-wipes. Have you ever looked in your Mom’s purse? It’s like a shopping mall of stuff in there! But Moms need to be prepared and big purses help Moms always be ready.

In our Bible story today, Jesus calls us to be prepared. But Jesus does not mean we each have to carry a big purse full of things. Jesus wants us to carry a big heart ready to help those around us. We need to have our hearts prepared to share: love, hope, peace, kindness, good manners, friendliness, cheerfulness, excitement, patience, forgiveness, trust, humor, courage, perseverance, loyalty, honesty, tolerance, sympathy, acceptance, faith, generosity, interest, optimism, respect, (You can edit this list as you see fit.), sincerity, willingness, joy, awareness, charity, comfort, compassion, cooperation, dignity, grace, happiness, hospitality, security, strength, truth, and did I say love? Wow! Sounds like we need to pack a lot of stuff into our hearts. And we do! But where do we get all of this stuff? Jesus gives it to us! The world is a big place. We have lots to do. Jesus calls us to be prepared for His work and He helps us to be ready. So fill-up your heart and be prepared!

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.
Thank You that she is prepared.
Help my heart
to be prepared
to help others
with kindness,
joy,
and love.
Amen

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

A Good Day Ends with Dirty Feet

20th Sunday after Pentecost
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 26
Reformation Day
for Sunday, October 30, 2011
lectionary focus: Joshua3:7-17; 1Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew23:1-12

Good morning!

In my family we have a saying, “It’s been a great day if you have a dirt necklace.” You know: when you play so hard, when you work so hard, that at the end of the day you have this line of dirt around your neck that looks like a necklace made of dirt? Ah, those are fun-filled days! And dirt necklaces makes me think about…our shoes. Shoes, shoes, look at all of our shoes! Now that the weather is getting cooler most of us are changing from our summer sandals to our closed-up shoes. Here at church we wear our fancy dress-up shoes. But most of us have a pair of work shoes, too. These are the shoes we wear out working or playing hard; the shoes that get dirty with our work and fun; so dirty that our socks are dirty; and our feet even are dirty!

I think God likes dirty feet. There are lots of “feet” Bible stories: with our feet, under our feet, by our feet, at His feet. In the story today, we see the people of God hiking through the wilderness again. The Lord tells them that He will give them a firm place to walk, that He will make a safe path. But notice that God doesn’t say anything about keeping our feet or our shoes all pretty and clean. God knows that work gets us dirty, especially our shoes and feet. If our feet stay clean all the time, then we must be sitting around not doing much work or play. And God wants us to work hard to help each other. It sounds odd to say go out there and get dirty, but it is through hard work that we all improve and get better at being God’s children. So when you clean your feet each evening, rejoice that you have dirty feet! Rejoice that you are working hard to live a life for 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 my feet.
Guide my feet
on Your safe path.
Help me
to help others.
And let me rejoice
when my help
gives me dirty feet!
Amen

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

O Prosper the Work of Our Hands!

19th Sunday after Pentecost
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 25
for Sunday, October 23, 2011
lectionary focus: Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
prop: 2 buckets

Welcome!

Once upon a time there were two buckets. Every day they were taken to the well, filled with water, and carried to where they were needed. Back and forth. Back and forth. One day as they arrived at the well, the first bucket said, “Isn’t it sad? No matter how many times we leave this well full of water, we always come back to it empty!”
The second bucket was a little startled and replied, “Not sad at all! No matter how many times we come to this well empty, we always leave full!”

In our Bible story today, the psalmist sings about the hardness of life…so much work, always work, then more work, there is always some work that needs to be done! But as with all prayers prayed with strength, the psalmist stops his whining and comes to see that our work is done for God. Back and forth. Over and over. We work every day to spread God’s love, peace, and hope. With our hearts, we share God’s love. With our words, we speak God’s peace. With our hands, we build God’s hope. And no matter how many  times we come back empty, having given it all away…God has more love, peace, and hope to make us full. The psalmist prays O let the work of our hands be successful! We too reach out to God and ask Him to fill us so that our hands and hearts and words can do His work with success.

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for keeping us full.
Let the work of our hands
be successful
in sharing Your love,
Your peace,
Your hope.
Amen

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

Being a Copycat

18th Sunday after Pentecost
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 24
for Sunday, October 16, 2011
lectionary focus: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-9

Good morning!
Simon says, put your hands on top of your head.
Simon says, put your fingers in the air.
Simon says, listen to this.

Playing Simon Says can be fun. But the other day at school, my friend Zachary had a problem. His friend Miles started copying him. Every thing that Zachary did, Miles did, too. If Zach laughed, Miles laughed. If Zach went to get water, Miles went to get water. If Zach took a bite of his chicken sandwich, Miles took a bite. If Zach chose library centers, Miles chose library centers. Zach got tired of Miles being a copycat! “He’s copying me!!!” Zach complained to his teacher, to his coach, to his mom. But all of them just smiled and said, “Miles thinks you are cool and he wants to be cool just like you.”

In our Bible story today, we find out that God wants us to be copycats. But He wants us to be copycats of Jesus. Jesus lived here in the world to show us how we should live here in the world. To be a copycat of Jesus, we can answer the question: “What would Jesus do?” Then when we share like Jesus shared; when we help like Jesus helped; when we are friendly like Jesus was friendly, we are copying Jesus and we are living the way we God wants us to live. Yep, being a copycat of Jesus is definitely the way to be cool.

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 friends.
Thank You for Jesus.
Help me
to be a copycat of Jesus.
Amen.

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

Be Surprised!

17th Sunday after Pentecost
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 23
for Sunday, October 9, 2011
lectionary focus: Philippians 4:1-7-9

One day I asked my friend Zachary what his favorite part of the church service was. He said that his favorite part was the surprise. “What surprise?” I asked him. “You know,” he said, “where we remind each other to Be Surprised!”  ??  Oh! Zachary was talking about the part of the service where we greet each other with the words “The Peace of Christ be with you.” When people said “Peace of Christ,” Zach heard “Be surprised.”

I think Zachary is right. The word surprise can mean something unexpected, but it can also mean to feel wonder or amazement. And The Peace of Christ is amazing! We should be surprised! We should be amazed! In our Bible story today, we are told not to worry, but to be gentle, to hope, to pray, and to rejoice; and in doing these good things, the Peace of Christ will fill our hearts. And when we are filled with the Peace of Christ, we feel WOW! And we want our family and friends to feel WOW! That is why today and every day, we should tell each other to be amazed by God’s astounding love that He has for each of us. We should tell each other to Be surprised! Therefore, repeat after me: The Peace of Christ be with you! (The children repeat.) Be surprised! (The children repeat.)

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

Dear Lord,
Thank You
for the Peace of Christ.
Help me
to be surprised.
Amen

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

Why Did You Bring Us Out of Egypt?

15th Sunday after Pentecost Year A
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Proper 21
for Sunday, September 25, 2011
lectionary focus: Exodus 17:1-7
(Note: The hardest part for the children to understand may be boredom on a car-trip. I wonder…)

Welcome!
Once upon a time when I was about your age, my family went on vacation. We were so excited! We were going to see cool things and do cool things and be free from the routine of home and school and work. We packed up the car with a tent, and food, and games, and we headed out to adventure. But the adventure was kind of a far drive away. And after awhile, it was hot. We were hungry. We were thirsty. We were bored. Are we there yet? We got whiney. She’s touching me! Ugh! Is this what vacation is? We were not happy.

But wait. Mom and Dad pointed out that as hot as we were, as hungry, and thirsty, and squished in the car…we were on vacation! Of course we had enough food and drinks and space. And what’s more, we were on an adventure, a journey to explore and discover and see and do all sorts of new and different and cool things. And yes, we did.  We had lots of fun! It was a great trip. After we remembered that we were on vacation.

In our Bible story today, Moses and the people of Israel are camping. God had Moses lead His people out of Egypt, out of slavery, and into freedom! Oh, the people were happy; they were dancing; they were singing. But going to the promised land was kind of a long trip. And after awhile, it was hot. They were hungry. They were thirsty. They were bored. Are we there yet? They got whiney. Why did you pull us out of slavery for this?

But wait. No matter how hot or hungry or thirsty or lost in the wilderness they felt, they were free! No longer were they being bossed around by Egyptian masters. God had provided them with a great journey, a great adventure, to explore and discover and build and be the nation of HIs people. And of course, God provided them with enough food and water and space. God takes care of the big things and the little things that we need. God had Moses tell the people: I will be standing there in front of you.  And the people of Israel remembered that they were free and God was among them.

Sometimes in life we can get lost in the yucky stuff. We can start feeling hot, and tired, and bored, and get whiney. It is easy to do. But we must remember the important thing: that even in those times, God is with you. God loves you. God takes care of the big and little things we need because He loves us. We are on a great adventure. God gives us all sorts of new and different and cool things to do and He is with us all the way!

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

Dear Lord,

Thank You for adventures.

Thank You for freedom.

Thank You for always being with us.

Help me

to enjoy the adventure!

Amen

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