Children’s Sermon First Sunday of Christmas, Luke 2:22-40, December 28, 2014

Prepare: For the children’s sermon you will need a nativity set plus two more figures to be Simeon and Anna. Set up a table with blank paper doll cut outs and crayons and/or colored pencils for the worship station. You can also just have plain paper and pencils for people to write on in you don’t have time for the paper dolls.

20130822-222604.jpg  Gather the children around the nativity set and ask them to tell you about the figures that they see. Once they have gotten to everyone there, ask them if anyone is missing.

FaithCross Yep, there are the kings, and the shepherds, the angel (or angels!), some animals, Mary and Joseph and the baby. It does seem like everyone is there, doesn’t it? I think, though, that we could add some people to the story.

Today in the Gospel lesson we heard about Simeon and Anna. These two people had been waiting for Jesus for a long time! God had told them that they would see Jesus before they died and they were very old when he was born, but like the shepherds and the kings, they were some of the first people to see Jesus and to know who he was!

Simeon and Anna were waiting and preparing, just like we all did during Advent. They know that Jesus was coming, just like we all knew that Christmas would be here soon. There was a difference, though, because we all knew that Christmas would be December 25th, just like it always it. Simeon and Anna didn’t know when Jesus would be born, they just had to wait and trust that God would fulfill the promise. They heard the good news, and felt the same joy as the shepherds and the kings, so I think we should add them scene, so I brought two more figures to add to this nativity. Let’s put them in place.

20130822-223749.jpg  Faithful God, we thank you for the witness of Simeon and Anna, and their long wait to see Jesus. Be with us when whenever we wait for news, good or bad, in our lives. Give us patience, faith and courage to be faithful followers of Christ. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship Just as we added Simeon and Anna to the nativity set, invite the congregation to add someone of their own to the set. Simeon and Anna were witnesses to God’s promise, and are for us today a witness to faith in God’s good works.  Who in your life has been a faithful witness? Who has been a steady and patient believer in God and in you?

Make a paper doll of that person (or write a little about them) and add them to your nativity set at home!

FaithCross_BlessALT  God’s promises are fulfilled in you!

 

~GB

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Weekly Household Devotions – December 28, 2014

06 December 28 - First Sunday of Christmas.pubHere is the devotion page for The First Sunday of Christmas, December 28, 2014

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Household Devotion Page for Christmas 2014

05 December 25 - Christmas 2014.pubHere is the devotion page for Christmas, December 24 and 25, 2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

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Children’s Sermon Fourth Sunday in Advent, Luke 1:26-38, December 21, 2014

Prepare: You really don’t need anything for the children’s sermon.  For the worship station we are going to make a paper chain with the whole congregation.  So you will need enough 1 inch by 4 inch (2.5 by 10 cm) pieces of paper for everyone to have one, and several rolls of tape.  People will be writing on the paper, so pencils or pens would be good, too!

20130822-223454.jpg  Gather the children and ask them if they have ever done anything scary.  Invite a few responses if you have time.

FaithCross Wow, those are some scary things!  How about this, though, have you ever done something scary that turned out to be a great thing?  Let me give you an example (Please insert your own story!  I will write mine so you get the idea, but please use one of your own.) One time, when I was in college, I was given an assignment that I really didn’t take very seriously.  Part of the assignment was to make a presentation in front of the whole class. Well, I think I am pretty good at talking in front of people, so I decided that I would be fine just going in a talking without really preparing myself, or making any notes. I was wrong! Not only did I get a terrible grade, but the teacher was also really mad at me for not taking the assignment seriously. I really had two choices, I could ignore it and take the bad grade, which would have been the easy thing to do.  Or I could set up a meeting with the teacher, who was a really scary guy, and see if there was any way I could try again.

The first choice, to just ignore it, was easy, mostly because I didn’t have to admit that I did anything wrong. I could just say that the teacher was mean, which everyone agreed was true, and that he didn’t like me. I could just kind of lie about the whole thing.  The second choice was scary because first I had to meet with the mean teacher, and second I had to admit that I had not really tried to do the assignment well.

Well, I met with the teacher, and he was upset about the assignment, but he was pleased that I had taken responsibility. He and I talked for a long time, and he decided to give me a second chance. He and I became friends, and he helped to guide me through the rest of my time at college, and even became one of the biggest influences in my choice to become a musician.

In our Gospel story today, we hear a classic angel phrase, “Don’t be afraid!” The angel is talking to Mary, who is going to be Jesus’ mother! Usually we think about the angel not wanting Mary to be afraid right then, I mean and angel of God appearing right in front of you has to be a little scary! I think the angel’s message is more than that, though. I think the angel is telling Mary to make the scary choice, to go tell Joseph what is happening, to stay with her family and to become Jesus’ mom.  Mary could have tried to run away from the whole situation, like I could have just ignored my bad grade. But the angel tells her to not be afraid, that things will work out and be good! So she does it, and look at the amazing things that happened because she did.

FaithCross_PrayALT   Faithful God, we pray often that you keep us from evil, and we pray also that you keep us safe. Today we also pray for the courage to do things that are difficult, because we know that they are the right and good things to do. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship Paper Chains! Have the congregation make pairs and talk briefly about a scary time in their lives that turned out well, or that ended up bringing good things.

After they have had a chance to talk, each person in the congregation is invited to write about a scary time that turned out well on a piece of paper. Then use the tape to make a chain with all the people in their row, then link to the rows in front and behind until the whole congregation is holding one long paper chain.  Hang the chain in somewhere in the church, even on the Christmas tree, if you have one in the your church!

FaithCross_BlessALT  God gives you comfort and courage.

 

~GB

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Weekly Devotion Page for December 21, 2014

04 December 21 - Advent 4 Year B.pubHere is the devotion page for The Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 21, 2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

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Children’s Sermon Third Sunday in Advent, Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, December 14, 2014

Prepare: You will need a few mission statements from companies, churches and organizations.  I included a few, but you may want others, too.  For the worship station people will just need paper and pen or pencil.

20130822-223454.jpg  Ask the children if they know what a mission statement is.  You might get a few interesting answers, but see if any of them can really tell you what a mission statement is.

FaithCross Yes, a mission statement is a simple message that tells the world who you are and what you are about.  Here are a few mission statements from companies and organizations that you might know:

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

The ELCA’s mission statement is “Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed, gathered and sent for the sake of the world.”

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

You should also include your own churches mission statement!

Ok, so why are we talking about mission statements?  I’ll tell you! I think that this passage from Isaiah might be Jesus’ mission statement.  Here, listen to the first part of it again –

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;

Doesn’t that sound like Jesus?  Jesus even reads that passage in his home synagogue and says, “That’s me!  That is what I came to do!”

That is the Jesus that we prepare for during Advent, the Jesus that will bring good news, bind us up, give us freedom and comfort us, so go get ready!

20130822-223749.jpg   God with us, bring us freedom and release.  Bring us healing and hope.  Bring us light and life and joy. Amen

FaithCross_Worship Advent Mission statement time! You can have the paper in the seats or you can set up a station for people to move to.

Think about how you prepare your own heart for this season.  What do you look forward to?  In what ways are you more generous in Advent and Christmas?  What would it be like to prepare your heart in that way every day?

Write down a few words or sentences that describe how you would like to prepare for every day.  Something that talks about how you would like to treat others, how you would like to see the world, and what you can do to make it better every day.

This is your mission statement.

20130822-223908.jpg  Go and be God’s light in the dark.

 

~GB

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Weekly Devotion Page for December 14, 2014

03 December 14 - Advent 3 Year B.pubHere is the devotion page for The Third Sunday in Advent, December 14, 2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

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Children’s sermon Mark 1:1-8, Advent 2 Year B December 7th, 2014

ffjChildrenSermonPreparation: For the worship station have a large heart cut out of poster board, several magazines, scissors, glue

Find a simple and not too long “runner” rug or runner from a wedding.

FaithCross_ConnectALTCall the children forward but right before you do, lay out the runner and then guide them to walk on it to the space where you gather for children’s sermon time.

Then say, “Have you seen carpets like this laid out for people before? Maybe at a wedding, sometimes on tv we see famous people walking on a carpet (usually red) to get inside to the party they are about to attend. These runners, as they are called, are to guide the way for people and are usually to ensure that their clothing doesn’t get dirty or it makes it easier for them to walk. Someone has thought of them, laid out the rug for them, and has prepared for them to come. What do you usually do to prepare for people to come to your house for any reason at all?

FaithCross_BibleALTIn today’s Bible story, we hear of someone named John the Baptist. John was someone who was helping people get ready for Jesus to come to be with them. He didn’t just lay down a rug for Jesus, but he told everyone who would listen about God, Jesus, and how much God wants them to be ready for Jesus and to be a part of Jesus’ work in the world. He wanted people to prepare their hearts, to think about God in their lives and how that changes how they act or what they say. It means thinking of God’s people and God’s world first. John tells us that Jesus comes to help guide us like this rug to love and care for everyone in God’s world. Jesus is a guide who is always with us!

FaithCross_PrayALT Jesus be our guide. Show us how to love everyone we meet how you love them. Guide us to be your hands and feet in the world. Guide in the way of your mercy, forgiveness and peace. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship Two options: 1) During worship have people text someone a prayer or a “thinking of you” message. 2) Have a large heart cut out of poster board. Have magazines, ads, etc. on a table for people to cut out “picture prayers” of who or what they are praying for today. If you have a “prayer table” put the heart there so that people can pray for others.

FaithCross_BlessALT +Jesus guides you today+

 

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Weekly Devotion Page for December 7, 2014

02 December 7 - Advent 2 Year B.pubHere is the devotion page for The Second Sunday in Advent, December 7, 2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

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Children’s Sermon Mark 13: 24-37 Advent 1 Nov. 30th, 2014

Preparation: Have an alarm clock  or your smart phone with an obvious alarm set like you would have to wake up in the morning.

20130822-223520.jpg Have your alarm go off slightly before the Children’s time. (Warn whomever is involved in worship what is happening!) When the alarm goes off, excitedly and hurriedly gather the children together. Say “Is everyone awake and ready? Oh good! Here we go!” Don’t say ready for what or where you are going. They will be confused. It’s ok! Just keep asking if they are ready.

20130822-223633.jpg Say “Do you know what you are supposed to be ready for?  (They might say Christmas! Go with it if they do!) You don’t? Yeah sometimes me neither! I know that when I hear my alarm go off every morning, I’m supposed to get up and “be ready for the day.”  But I don’t always know what the day will be or exactly what I will do. What are some things that you do to be ready for your day at school, or daycare or with mom or dad at home? We get our books, coats, notebooks, pencils, etc. together. We make our lunch and make sure we have all of the stuff we will need for our day. We get prepared and we think through our day and who we will be with. We think about all of the important people and activities in our day.

Right now we’re getting ready for Christmas, aren’t we? While everyone in the world is already celebrating Christmas, in the church we are in the season called Advent, which means ‘to wait.’ We get ready by waiting, sort of like how you rush around in the morning getting ready for school and then maybe have to wait on the bus at the bus stop or have to wait in the car at the school for your turn to the drop off zone. In the church we’re waiting to celebrate Jesus’ birth, that God,  in Jesus, came to be with us. God wants to be with us and wants everyone to know about her love.

In today’s Bible story, Jesus is telling his disciples to be ready for when Jesus comes back. We know that Jesus is with us always but we don’t see Jesus right now. We see Jesus’  love in people around us but not actually Jesus. Kind of like how we know that our moms and dads aren’t with us all day but we know they will come and pick us up from school or daycare, Jesus promises that he will come again to be physically, actually with us someday. But we have to be  ready and wait and it’s not a scary thing, it will be a joyful, happy time, like being picked up from school or daycare. Just like we get ready for our day thinking about all of the places we will go and all of the people we will see, Jesus wants us to think about how we can tell people about God everyday too. Jesus tells us that waking up everyday means we can share God’s love everywhere we go! Just waking up each morning is like an alarm reminder that Jesus is with us and to tell someone about Jesus!

 

20130822-223749.jpg Jesus, thank you for being with us always. We will tell everyone we meet about you and your love for the world. Thank you that we are always in your love and for all of the people in our lives who love us. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship Encourage people to set an alarm on their smart phones for a couple of times during the week to go off to remind them that Jesus is with them and to share the love of Jesus with someone else. Perhaps have everyone set an alarm for the same time so that as a congregation they will be sharing the love of Jesus together.

Have some branches (either real or made by straightening a wire clothes hanger and covered with brown paper) with some paper Christmas ornaments (simple-made from construction paper) and have markers available to write or draw on the ornaments how you know that Jesus is near you in your day or how you share with someone else that Jesus is with them. Attach the ornaments to the branch and hang the branches in your worship space. Or you can hang the “ornaments” on the Christmas tree in your worship space if you have one up.

 

20130822-223908.jpg +Jesus is near you always+

 

BW

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