Growing Together in God’s Promises Jeremiah 1: 4-10 Epiphany 4, Year C, January 31, 2016

20130822-223454.jpg This would be a great Sunday to have children/youth of all ages in leadership during worship, education classes and any other opportunity. If not actual leadership (perhaps for safety reasons) then have the children/youth as partners with adults for leadership. Including the pastor! Here is a suggestion for a children’s sermon that can be led by the children fairly easily.

Gather the children in the middle of the sanctuary in the main aisle if you have one or some sort of central location. Ask the children if they have ever taught any one something new. (Accept all answers.) Ask if they have ever taught an adult something new. (Accept all answers.) Tell them that today-they will be the teachers and leaders and this children’s sermon is really for the adults. Have the children say to the congregation, “You are sent by God! Do not be afraid! God will tell you what to say!” Have the congregation say those phrases back to the children/youth. Ask a random adult of a couple of different ages (18-35, 35-50, 50-65, 65+)  what they would like to say to the children today. Then ask a teenager and  younger child what they want to tell the adults about God today.

We need each other! We need all of us together to proclaim God’s word of love, hope and grace. God works through us all and even those whom we don’t know or are different from us.

20130822-224425.jpg Have a child or two (or another adult and child) do the closing prayer. Let them make it up on the spot!

FaithCross_Worship God gifts us all to proclaim God’s good news to all people in the world. God’s promises grow in us all, too. Have small terra cotta pots, soil and some flower seeds on a table. Place the table on tile or linoleum or have a tarp under the table. Invite the congregation to write or draw images or words of God’s promises on the pots. Then they can add soil and seeds. The actual potting could also be done after worship in another location. In this time of winter, watching new growth can be a reminder that God is always doing a new thing, even when it seems that the world is frozen and stagnate.

20130822-223908.jpg +God formed you and knows you+

 

Children’s Sermon – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, year C – Luke 4:14-21 (and Isaiah 61:1-2)

Prepare: You will need a bandage of some kind, like an ACE bandage, for the children’s sermon.  And bring a Bible with Isaiah 61:1-2 marked.

For the worship station you will need the mission statement of your congregation.  If you do not have one you can use the mission statement of your wider church organization.  Here is a link the ELCA Mission Statement page.

20130822-223520.jpg Gather the children and show them the bandage, asking them if they know what it is for. Once they answer ask if any of them have ever had to have a bandage?

20130822-223633.jpg  We will get back to the bandage in just a minute, but first I wanted to talk a little about what Jesus says in the Gospel story we hear today. Jesus is in his hometown synagogue (you might want to take a minute to explain that word – for most the children, equating it to a church will be enough!) and he decides that he is going to read from the scriptures. He chooses a couple of passages from a book called Isaiah and reads them. My favorite of the two passages he reads is Isaiah 61:1-2, which says this – (read)

Then he does a crazy thing, he says, “That person that Isaiah is describing? That’s me!”

Well, this makes the people who are there a little uncomfortable and upset, but we are going to save that part for next week! This week we are going to look at what Jesus said – remember that bandage?

One of the things that is in Isaiah, but not in the Gospel reading is that Jesus will, “Bind up the brokenhearted.” I love that phrase! It’s such a wonderful image of comfort and care. If i hurt my wrist I can use a bandage to bind it up and support it until it heals and is strong again. If I cut my finger I can bind it up with a bandage until the skin grows back and it can protect me again. But if my heart is broken what can I do? Jesus says that He is here to bind up our broken hearts so that they can heal and be strong again. He wraps them up and protects and comforts our hearts when we are brokenhearted! I love it!

20130822-223908.jpg Jesus comforts and protects your heart.

20130822-223749.jpg Loving God, bind up our brokenness with you love and care. Help our hearts to heal and be strong so that we can help bind up other hearts that are broken. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship Sometimes this passage in John is called “Jesus’ Mission Statement.” Invite your congregation to read it again, and then read your church’s mission statement. Open up a little time for interactive discussion about what is important in each statement. How is your church’s mission similar or different from Jesus? Should they be the same? Should they be different?

If your congregation is using the Weekly Devotion Inserts (here is a link to the one for this week!) ask them to get them out and work through the exercise on the back – make a mission statement for the week and post it somewhere it will be seen!

God’s big love Overflows! John 2:1-11

Preparation: Find something of yours (or make it up) that is important in your family but maybe is kept away for ‘safe keeping’ or special occasions. For example, we had my grandmother’s silver in the basement for years, never being used. And recently found it and brought it out and use it every day.

And/Or have a pottery jar (or better yet have multiple jars) or something that can represent the jars.

Gather the children with you. Show them the item you brought. I will use the silver in my example.

20130822-223520.jpgGood morning! I brought with me, well, it’s a fork right? But it’s a special fork, see it was my grandmothers and it is all silver, very fancy. She and my grandfather were given this at their wedding. And it was very special to her. So special that she really never wanted anyone to use it because she was afraid it would get messed up. Do you have anything like that in your house? Or a family member’s house? (take answers)

20130822-223633.jpgToday we read about a wedding that Jesus is at. And so I was thinking of this story as I thought about my grandmother’s silver. See Jesus was at the wedding with his mother. And something happened. The people giving the wedding ran out of wine and Jesus mother, Mary, told him to fix this problem to help the wedding couple and parents who were giving the party. There were these jars filled with water (if you have the jar or jars show them) and they were used for purification or for washing–washing hands and feet and getting things all cleansed for the wedding. (rub your hands over the jars as though washing) So this water was even pretty dirty and had been used. But it was also special water, set aside for the purpose of cleaning. And when Mary tells Jesus to help the couple, all these jars that were bigger than this and there were many more of them  and have water, get turned into wine. Jesus did not let something that was set aside go to waste. He used these jars and filled them with wine as a way for people to not only see who he was, God’s son, but also to show that God’s love and grace are big and overflowing and are so big and over flowing that even things that we think we should not use or only use for special things, become a part of the gift and promise we have from God.

So this sliver from my grandma. It does not bring much joy sitting in the basement. But when I take it out and use it and allow it to be a gift that is seen and felt and held, suddenly it is something that is offering a gift of joy, of remembering my grandma, of being a part of our family that celebrates and is connected together. So even an ordinary fork gets to remind us of God’s big love for us and that we can share this love with others by bringing our gifts out in to the light to be seen and shared–that is what God’s love is. It does not need to be saved up or only used at certain times, but is for all the time.

Can we name some gifts together that we can share–take answers but be sure to include things like smiles, hugs, notes, and simple I love you as ways of sharing God’s love.

20130822-224425.jpgGod of Big Love, Your love is so big we sometimes cannot describe it. Help us to see it overflowing in our families and friends and homes and days. Show us how to share this big love and not hold it back for special times but to let it be in the light all the time. Amen

20130822-223908.jpgChild of God, you are in God’s big love today and always. +

 

FaithCross_WorshipGratitude Jar–Have a large jar for people to write ways that they have seen God’s big love in the world and in their lives. Write them down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. You can collect these just today or for the year! Have someone type them up or paste them up onto a big heart so they can be read.

 

Celebrate God’s Promises! Luke 3: 15-22 The Baptism of Our Lord

20130822-223520.jpgAs the children come forward have some noise makers (maybe some left over from New Years Eve) to hand out to them. Anything that makes a joyful noise will do! Ask them what these noise makers are used for? Parties! We use them to make our joy and happiness louder so that EVERYONE will hear that we are so happy! It’s hard to be sad when everyone around you is joyful and having a good time so noise makers and happy noises such as saying “Woo Hoo,” “Yippee,” or “Hallelujah” can bring people into joy even if they’re not already feeling it!

20130822-223633.jpg Today we heard the story of Jesus’ baptism. Baptism is when we splash water on someone-of any age-to tell the whole world that they belong to God and God’s family. We often say a prayer and say words of welcome as a whole group to do this in worship. Well, when Jesus was baptized, God spoke loud words that everyone heard, “You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Now do you think those words were said sadly? (Say the verse again sadly or in a monotone voice.) NO! I think God said those words with joy! (Say the verse now with joy!!) Baptism is a celebration and each day we should CELEBRATE that we belong to God and share that joy with the whole world! God wants everyone to hear that they are loved by God and in the family of God. That is something to celebrate! When we go to school, we celebrate! When adults to go work, we celebrate! When we go to soccer, piano, baseball, ballet, choir, we celebrate that we all belong to God! Let’s practice: (Use the noise makers as you also shout Hallelujah.) We’re at school! Hallelujah! We’re at the grocery store! Hallelujah! Everywhere we go we belong to God! Hallelujah! We all belong to God together! Hallelujah!

20130822-223749.jpg Dear God, thank you for making us one family! We all belong to you and we are joyful! We bring your joy and love everywhere we go so that everyone hears the good news of Jesus. Amen.

*As the children return to their seats have them blow their noise makers and use pine boughs to have the children sprinkle the congregation with water.

FaithCross_WorshipHave simple postcards with a dove printed on one side on a table with writing utensils. Invite people to write a word of gratitude and celebration for someone in their life who share the joy of Christ with them. If they are a baptismal sponsor (god parent) for someone invite them to write a note to their sponsor child of love and joy for who they are as a child of God. Have postage available or a simple way to mail them. Be sure addresses are included!

20130822-223908.jpg+You are beloved by God+

 

Let us walk with you on the journey of faith. Whether your feet are big or small, fresh or worn, running or crawling, God's love goes with you and you stand on holy ground.