Keeping up with what God is doing!

ffjChildrenSermonChange is good! Or at least we hope that you will think so. Beginning June 8th, (Pentecost Sunday) Faith Formation Journeys weekly devotional will have a new look and focus. We will also be making some small changes to the Children’s Sermons. Why you ask? We don’t know about you, but in our congregations (Colorado, USA) the gathering for worship that happens primarily on Sunday mornings is shifting, faith formation opportunities and experiences are shifting and how faith communities are engaging their neighborhoods in which they are located is shifting. God is up to something and we feel that it’s very exciting and we want to walk with you and your faith community on this journey! We recognize that faith practices that are accessible to households of all  configurations is vital and necessary, so some of those pieces in our weekly devotional will be enhanced. How is it that we can live the message from the biblical scripture in our daily lives? How do  we practice thinking deeply about how God meets all of us in our lives, whether we are 8 years old and in the third grade or 80 years old and in an assisted living facility?

We want to equip our readers to really wrestle with what it means to live a life of faith in the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. We hope to help congregations connect what happens on Sunday morning with what happens in people’s lives Monday-Saturday and to what God is doing in their neighborhood. In our “Faith + Connect” section,  ideas for doing just that will be offered.

We also recognize that part of this shift is also about what happens when the community gathers for Sunday (or whenever) worship. The insight that active engagement with the biblical text enhances learning for all ages as well as retention of the message. Opportunities for all ages gathered to interact with one another during worship is a part of this engagement. In our Children’s Sermons, we will be adding a worship station idea or two each week to help you spark ideas for your context for cross generational worship opportunities.

As always, we are grateful for the support and the feedback from those of you who frequent this resource. Please give us your honest thoughts on these changes. We would love to start a dialogue on this site for idea swapping, support and affirmation as we try and keep up with what the Holy Spirit is doing among us all! God is at work in the world and we are blessed in our call to participate. It’s an exciting time to be the Church and we are blessed to be the Church with all of you! In Christ, Brigette, Gus and Leta

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Weekly Devotion Page – July 27, 2014

36 July 27 - Seventh Sunday After Pentecost.pubHere is the devotion page for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 27,  2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

We have started a new format for our inserts (starting with Pentecost, June 8, 2014).  To learn more about this format read this – Keeping up with what God is Doing,

Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!

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Children’s Sermon Pentecost 7A Romans 8:26-39

Preparation: markers and paper with the words “what If” at the top (or print the whole poem if you like) either to hand out or at worship station

20130822-223454.jpg Gather the children with you. Ask, What kinds of things do you worry about? (take their answers) Yes, I worry about those things too sometimes (or add in your own worries). In fact I have this poem here by Shel Silverstein that lists all kinds of things that might be worrisome.
Read Poem:   Whatif by Shel Silverstein

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear

and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

That is quite a list of what ifs! Sometimes I also think that all these what ifs and worries and things that could happen or event things that DO happen that are sad or scary, what if God does not love me anymore–??? Have you ever thought of that what if?

20130822-223633.jpgDid you hear our scripture for today though? I heard it loud and clear, let me read it to you. “For I am convinced–which means I am very, very sure and certain, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height , nor depth,(–insert their worries here and say things like not war or divorce or darkness or lost teeth, etc) nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Do you Know what that means–not one single thing will ever make God’s love go away. Not for you, not for me, not for anyone. Phew… that is some good news, to know that love will be with us no matter what happens or does not happen.

FaithCross_WorshipI have these papers for you that say ‘what if’ on the top. I want you to go ahead and write or draw anything that worries you or scares you. Then after you do that, draw a BIG HEART over the top of it and write God’s Love in that heart to help you remember that nothing will separate you from God’s love.

20130822-224425.jpgJesus, help us remember, no matter what ifs we worry about, no matter what comes our way, that your love is with us to stay. Amen

 

20130822-223908.jpg+May you know God’s love is with you always+

 

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Children’s Sermon Romans 8: 12-25 Year A, Pentecost 6 July 20, 2014

20130822-223454.jpg Go to where you normally have the children gather and flop down with a lot of drama: sigh, play with your shoe or hair. Look extremely bored. Have the kids come join you but don’t seem too excited. Say, “well, you can come up if you want but don’t hurry we have LOTS of time.” Hopefully, the children will think this is a bit funny. When they are gathered say to them, “I’m soooooo bored. I am waiting. Waiting and waiting and waiting. Do you ever have to wait? What do you have to wait for? (Accept all answers.) Do you like to wait? Is it hard? What are some things that you do when you are waiting?

20130822-223633.jpg Well, do you want to know that I am waiting for? Jesus! Jesus promised that he would come back and we know that’s true but we have to wait. Today in a letter that Paul wrote to some people in Rome a long time ago he is talking to them about waiting for Jesus. The people in Rome are getting tired of waiting for Jesus and think that Jesus should just come now so that they can quit waiting for the world to be made right again. But Paul says that it doesn’t work that way, even though we want it to. Paul tells them that THEY have things to do while they wait for Jesus that will help everyone learn about Jesus! What things can we do while we wait for Jesus to tell the whole world about Jesus? (Accept all answers but you may have to prompt a bit.) We can love people, we can help people, we can send cards to people in the hospital, we can make care kits for people in parts of the world who don’t have medical supplies, help with clean water, etc. We are waiting and sometimes it’s hard. Waiting for Jesus to come back, but it may be a long time so we might as well have something to do while we wait! God loves us and the whole world so much and we want to tell everyone!

FaithCross_Worship Have a worship station with some simple service ideas: card making for shut-ins, putting together simple care packages to keep in the car for those in need (hand sanitizer, Kleenex, water bottle, granola bar, short written prayer, all in a ziplock bag). Next to the service station have a prayer wall or table where people can write prayers about waiting. What are they waiting for in their life? Where is it hard to wait? Where are signs of God’s presence with us as we wait?

20130822-224425.jpgWaiting is hard, God. But we know that you are with us even if we are unsure. Help us to see signs of your presence in the world. Amen.

20130822-223908.jpg +Our hope is in Jesus+ (Make the sign of the cross)

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Faith + Home Connection August 2014 Romans 12: 1-8

FaithCross When you are gathered with your household share with one another what gifts from God you see in them.

20130822-223633.jpgRead together Romans 12: 1-8

20130822-223454.jpg We are all interconnected through Christ Jesus and each of us has a place and a purpose in God’s family. We are not to be something that we are not but embrace who God created us to be and what it is that we are good at and are passionate about. Many times we think that our gifts don’t directly translate into something “religious” or “churchy.” But God created us for all types of vocation and avocation. Our response to God’s grace and love is that we use our gifts to the up building of God’s creation and people. Each aspect of our everyday lives is important and is in the love and mercy of God.

What are your gifts? What gifts do you see in each other? How can you use your gifts to reveal God’s love and grace in the world? What reminders can we give each other that each part of our day is sacred and part of God’s mission?

20130822-224425.jpg Thank you God for creating each of us with unique gifts. We want to use them to reveal your love and forgiveness in the world. May we support each other in using our gifts. We are grateful for the community that we live in and the people who walk with us in our faith journey. All of these things we pray in the name of your son, Jesus, amen.

20130822-223908.jpg +Be transformed in the love of Christ Jesus.+

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Weekly Devotion Page for July 20, 2014

35 July 20 - Sixth Sunday After Pentecost.pubHere is the devotion page for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, July 20,  2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

We have started a new format for our inserts (starting with Pentecost, June 8, 2014).  To learn more about this format read this – Keeping up with what God is Doing,

Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!

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Children’s Sermon July 13, 2014 Pentecost 5A, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Preparation: Bring in one vegetable seed and some examples of the food that it makes – for example, bring in one corn kernel and an ear of corn.  Even better if it is a seeds that could be planted and then grow!

For the worship station – you will need some butcher paper, a black marker, some tape and some colored sticky dots.

20130822-223633.jpg   If you are not too pressed for time, I always think that it is fun to quickly retell this story and have the children act it out.  Don’t read it, just retell it!  Have someone be the sower, have some children be the seeds, you will need some birds, too!  All of the children can join together at the end when the seed grows and returns a good crop.  Then you can wrap up by going through a little bit of Jesus explanation.

If this is going to be too long you can just briefly tell retell the four places the seeds fall and  jump right to the explanation below.

20130822-223454.jpg  Wow!  That was really fun, but do you know what it all means?  Yeah, neither did the disciples!  So Jesus took a little time to explain it.  He said that sometimes, when we tell people about our faith that they might say mean things, or that we are silly for believing in any of that stuff.  That is like the seeds on the path that got eaten by the birds.  Or, maybe we hear about Jesus but we really just want to play with our iPads, or phones, or we get caught up in playing sports or acting in plays or whatever, and we think those things are more important than God.  That is like the seeds that land in the thorns and get choked by weeds and can’t grow.  Or maybe we get really excited about something at church, but it doesn’t really turn out the way we hoped, so we just decide not to go back to church anymore.  That is like the seeds in the rocky soil that don’t have good roots and just fall over.

But then there is the good soil, and it returns a hundredfold, or maybe sixty or thirty . . . ok, wait, what does that mean?  Well, I brought in a seed to see if we can figure this out.  OK, here is a corn kernel.  It really doesn’t look like much, does it?  And it is not very expensive, either.  I could pretty easily scatter a handful of these in my garden and just hope that one or two would grow and I would probably have at least a few corn plants.  Then, each of those corn plants would grow (I hope!) several ears of corn, like this!  How many kernel are on this?  More than one, that’s for sure, maybe there are 50 or even a hundred, just like the story says, and this is just one ear of corn!  All this from a tiny, inexpensive seed.

Jesus is saying that our faith, and the faith we share with others can be like that, too!  Some of it might not grow, for all kinds of reasons, but if even the littlest part of our faith takes root in ourselves or in someone else it will grow beyond anything that we can imagine.

FaithCross_PrayALT God of Creation, we praise and thank you for sowing seeds of faith in us.  Help us to continue to scatter the seeds of our faith knowing that faith will not always grow, but that when it does it will be amazing!  Amen.

FaithCross_BlessALT +Go and be Good Soil and a faith sower +

FaithCross_Worship The general idea is to create something big out of little pieces, so this could take many different forms!  I will go through the example of making sticker flowers with round colored stickers, but if could be a whole congregation Lego project, or a kick off for a summer food drive, or school supply drive.

For the flowers, tear off a big sheet of butcher paper or art paper.  If can be whatever color you want (green would match the season!)  Then draw a couple of flower stems, make them big, and add leaves and a block circle at the top that will be the center of the flower.  Invite people to stick a dot on the paper to help build a large colorful flower around the circle at the top of the stems.

Before they put the dot on the paper, ask them to think about what keeps their faith from growing?  Then have them categorize it as P (path), W (weeds), or R (rocks) and write that letter on the dot.

Some examples might help people decide – for Path it might be things like the way other Christians behave, or hearing that believing in God is silly or stupid.  For the Weeds think of things like money worries, sports teams, clubs, video games.  For rocks think of disappointments and missed expectations.

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Weekly Devotion Page for July 13, 2014

34 July 13 - Fifth Sunday After Pentecost.pubHere is the devotion page for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, July 13,  2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

We have started a new format for our inserts (starting with Pentecost, June 8, 2014).  To learn more about this format read this – Keeping up with what God is Doing,

Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!

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Weekly Devotion Page for July 6, 2014

33 July 6 - Fourth Sunday After Pentecost.pubHere is the devotion page for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, July 6,  2014

Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!

We have started a new format for our inserts (starting with Pentecost, June 8, 2014).  To learn more about this format read this – Keeping up with what God is Doing,

Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!

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Children’s Sermon July 6, 2014 Pentecost 4A Matthew 11:25-30

Preparation: picture of a yoke for oxen, yarn or ribbon or paper to connect children together, a rock and other props that might be fun for two hands tied together to try. You can also just have two volunteers for this part
for worship station–paper strips, one per person in congregation

20130822-223633.jpg Our reading from Matthew today talks about being yoked together–do you know what a yoke is? It is not something we see everyday now but in Jesus time it was a familiar thing.” Show the picture and describe how a yoke keeps the oxen together so that they can pull together and work together. “How do you think this feels to the oxen to be hooked together like this? I think it could feel hard and burdensome–but also it could make the work lighter and easier to be together. Let’s try an experiment.”

Option one: have enough yarn or ribbon to tie kids together loosely at the wrists. You will want to use enough yarn so that you can cut it and then they each end up tying a piece of their ribbon to their own wrist
Option two: have two volunteers (or prep volunteers ahead of time–acolytes can be great for this! ) that you will tie together with a ribbon or bandannas or string.

Tie the yarn or ribbon around two wrists and hook them together. Do not make it tight. “Ok, now that you are tied together, let’s see what you can do. Try waving together. Now try clapping! Try writing in the air (or have a pen and paper for them to try). Can you pick up this rock together? (have a small rock and a large rock, see which one is easier to pick up) “What is it like being yoked together? What is hard about it? what is fun about it?”

Jesus is teaching about how some things in life, even things in our faith or our religious practices can become difficult or a burden. He says that what he teaches and what he promises is that even as we are yoked together to him, we are also given rest. Our life in faith and walking with Christ will bring rest to our hearts and we can live connected to one another which makes the walk lighter and sets us free to be one in Christ in the world.

FaithCross_PrayALT Jesus, help us to be yoked to you so that our hearts and spirits can rest and also know you in all we do. Show us how to be connected with one another and share your love with all the people and all the nations.

FaithCross_BlessALT +May you rest in God and Be sure of Christ’s love for all +

FaithCross_Worship For a worship station–you can use this station as a connection to the children’s sermon and a way to broaden it out to the congregation. Take this time to explain how the station works if you have not already. **You can also tie this into July 4 celebrations in saying that God has connected us an our nation to other nations of the world and as we work together as a global community we become connected and we share Christ’s love throughout the world.**

Connected through the Holy Spirit: There are paper strips in the pews, in the back, and available from the ushers. Please take one and write your name and/or a prayer and/or names of loved ones who are not here today. Then use the tape in your pew to bend the paper into a circle and connect it with your neighbor’s paper. We will create a paper chain of prayers and names that will then be draped on the cross up front to remind us of how the spirit connects us to Christ and to one another.

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Children’s Sermon Matthew 10: 40-42 Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 29th, 2014 Year A

20130822-223520.jpgGather the children by the entrance to the worship space. Have them cross the threshold so that you are in the worship space but technically they are not. Have them just stand there for 30 seconds or so. It will seem a lot longer to them! Then ask them if they would like to come in and be with everyone else. Hopefully they will say yes! Ask them why? Say, “Why do you want to come in and be a part of this group?” Accept all answers! (This is dicey, I know!) Say, “We want you to belong here too! We want everyone to be a part of God’s family.”

20130822-223633.jpgIn our Bible story this morning, Jesus tells the disciples that whoever welcomes them welcomes Jesus! And Jesus is God’s son, so welcoming Jesus is the same as welcoming God! If God were standing right here with us at the door to our church, how would we welcome God in?” Accept all answers and try to push them to extravagant welcome. Hugs, music, food, whatever they might have to make God comfortable and feeling loved. Say, “If someone comes to our house, to our church how should we treat them? Now this is not just about someone coming to our house or church but it’s about how we greet people when we walk in our classrooms at school, or your parents go to their work places. It’s about how when we see someone who needs help or is trying to help how we treat them. If God were to walk in right now and we would sing songs, give God a hug, give God only the best food and drinks, the most comfortable spot on the couch, and everyone we welcome Jesus says, is like welcoming God, how should we treat a new kid in our class or in our neighborhood? How does it feel when someone treats us this nice? Does God want everyone in the whole world to feel this loved? YES! God’s love for us never runs out or gets tired or ends. This is the way that God wants us to love each other. There is always enough love for everyone! ”

Have the kids come back into the worship space. Ask all of the adults on the aisles to greet the kids like they would God. You can suggest high fives, side hugs, (be aware of your safety policies with children), you can give adults notes to hand out ahead of time, confetti, ribbons, etc. Lead the children to the front or a central location to close in prayer.

20130822-223749.jpgDear Jesus, thank you for showing us how to care for everyone we meet. We pray for everyone to feel loved and to have all that they need to be healthy and whole.Help us to live our lives overflowing with your love. We pray to be a part of your love and forgiveness in the world. Amen.

20130822-223908.jpgAt the end of worship have people turn to one another and make the sign of the cross and say, “You are welcomed in the name of the Lord.” Suggest that they use this blessing at home and with friends.

FaithCross_WorshipFor a worship station on this text, there are a couple of ways that you can communicate the abundance and overflowing nature of God’s hospitality towards us. One way is to have a table set up with lots of billowing fabric that overflows the table. Have a light blue to represent grace, white for mercy, and dark pink or red for love. Ask people to write (permanent markers will work the best) how they experience God’s overflowing abundance of grace, mercy and love and ask them to also write how they can spill that out onto others in their lives. Another way is to have strips of blue fabric that people can write about grace, mercy and love in their lives as explained above. But have them but their cloth in the baptismal font (empty the water for this) and hopefully all of the strips will overflow and spill out of the font! In the water, bread and wine we tangibly experience God’s abundance of love, mercy and forgiveness overflowing in our lives! You could have the strips of cloth put on your altar as well. for communion.

 

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