Children’s Sermon Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Matthew 21:33-46, October 5, 2014

Prepare: This might require a little planning! You need something that you can put together quickly, and that you can substitute a “wrong” piece for an important part.  For example it could be a little Lego model that has an obvious color scheme, but bring one piece that is really the wrong color, but is absolutely needed to finish the model.

I will use a different example below, and you are welcome to use that idea, too, it just takes a little more time to set up. For the example below, you need to make a small wooden cross that should be held together with a small piece of dowel rod. The one that I have is three pieces, a base, and upright and a cross piece, with a hole in the upright and cross piece. Instead of a dowel rod bring a piece of string and tangle it around the three pieces that you have. (You will see how the Lego version works)

Here are couple pictures of what I put together:

2014-09-25 12.13.58 2014-09-25 12.15.03

For the Worship Station you will need enough small, unpolished, unremarkable stones for everyone in your congregation.  They should be small enough to fit easily in a child’s hand or in a pants pocket. You will also need crayons or markers and a big sheet of white paper (maybe more depending on the size of your congregation).

20130822-223520.jpg As the children gather, tell them that you are going to build something today, and that you hope you have all the right pieces. Ask them if they like to build things.

FaithCross_ConversationALT Let’s build something! OK, I brought the pieces with me in this bag. I thought it would be fun to make a new cross for our Sunday School room. Wait – what’s this string doing in here? Oh man, it’s wrapped around everything! I’m going to have to untangle this from everything before we can go on, wait a second. . . OK, now let’s just get rid of this string (toss it behind you or somewhere away from you), there, now we can build! This is the base that it will stand on, and this piece goes into the base like this. Then there is a hole in the upright and this cross piece, and I just need a little wood rod to go through it . . . it’s here somewhere . . . hmmm . . . I don’t see it. I really wanted to show you how the cross looks, but I don’t have anything to hold it together. Wait! I could tie it together! Where did that piece of string go? There! Almost right. I sure am glad we had that string, even if I thought it was annoying at first.

This reminds me of our Bible story. Well, Jesus did it again. Someone asked a question and he told a story! As usual, the story isn’t really about what we think it’s about. The story is really about rejection. Do you know what that means? (Wait and see) Right, kind of like what I did with the string. I got rid of the string because I thought that it was useless, and more in the way than anything. As it turns out, the string was just the thing that I needed to make everything work. Jesus is talking to the leaders of the community that he is in and tells them that the people they reject are very people that God looks to for leadership. He tells them that the people who think they are in charge of everything are not always the people that God will give authority to.

FaithCross_Worship Have a basket or bowl filled with little stones. By the basket, have them sign that invites them to reflect on a time when they rejected someone, how did it make them feel? Take a stone to remind you to give people a second chance or a third chance.

Have another station with the paper and crayons, and invite people to write a word or two about how they feel when they are accepted and loved.

They should keep the stone with them this week. Hang the paper in the a prominent place in the church for a week or two.

20130822-224425.jpg  Gracious God, we need your love and acceptance in our lives. Help us to rest in your love, and to be loving and accepting to the people around us. Amen.

20130822-223908.jpg  Know that God loves and accepts you.

Faith + Home Connection October 2014 Matthew 21: 33-46 and Isaiah 25: 1-9

 

20130822-223315.jpgTake a walk as a household or with friends around your neighborhood or go on a hike to enjoy the changing leaves on the trees and the seasons. Ask each other how you have experienced God through changes in your life. When was a time that a change was hard? Needed? Helpful?

20130822-223633.jpg Read Matthew 21: 33-46 and Isaiah 5: 1-7. Both are about owners of vineyards and there are several connections between the two texts. The Matthew passage quickly moves from the focus of the tenants to the treatment of the landowner’s son. When we read Matthew and Isaiah together, we know that Jesus is pulling from the Jewish traditions (including quoting Psalm 118 in verse 42) to make his point about who he is and God’s work for reconciliation and justice in unexpected places and ways.

For children: When is a time that you saw something that was amazing or unexpected? Jesus came to tell the world that God loves them but not all the people thought that Jesus was God’s son and believed him. Why is it sometimes hard to believe good news?

For youth/adults: We often say that seeing is believing. The landowner sent his own son to the “wicked” tenants to show that he was patient and willing to work with them. Yet, the tenants wouldn’t even consider the goodwill gesture but instead just became greedier-wanting the son’s very inheritance! Why is it hard to believe when someone is acting benevolent or downright altruistic toward us? Do we always assume a hidden agenda? How can we open ourselves truly to the good news (the wonderful news!) of God’s love and merciful actions toward us through Jesus Christ? Jesus’ death “swallows up death forever” (Is. 25:7) and we will with “be glad and rejoice in his [God’s]  salvation.” (Is. 25:9)

20130822-223749.jpg Offer prayers for all who are abused, threatened and hurt by anyone. Pray that all people may act toward one another how God acts toward us. May we be part of revealing God’s mercy in the world.

20130822-223908.jpg + The God of mercy is with you today+

FaithCross_ServeALT Learn about agencies and shelter for men and women who suffer from abuse of any kind. Find out how you can be an advocate, volunteer or donate needed items for people as they recreate their lives.

 

Children’s Sermon Matthew 21:23-32, 16th Sunday after Pentecost, September 28th, 2014

Preparation: posterboards or white boards, post it notes, markers, examples
optional–random acts of kindness video

20130822-223633.jpgGather the children together with you. Tell the second part of the gospel story or retell it. One idea would be to have some men/boys act it out if you can arrange for that. But retell saying, “Jesus is telling us that what we say and what we do are important but that in the end how we show God’s love and treat others is how we live a life in God. ”

20130822-223315.jpgSo I was thinking about this, about what I say about my faith and what I do about my faith. One thing I say about my faith in God is that I know God is with us all the time. Now how could I show that to people? (take ideas) This week one thing I did to show that is I listened to a friend of mine that I work with who told me how worried she was about her mom who lives far away. I listened to her stories about her mom and I gave her a hug and I encouraged her that she was showing love and care for her mom even while she was far away.

Here on one of my poster boards it says SAY, so I am going to take this sticky note that says I say God is with us all the time and put it here. Now this other board says DO, so I am going to take this sticky note and put Listen on it and put it up here. (If you have time, brainstorm some other ideas with the kids and do a couple more)

OPTION: Here is where you could show the random acts of kindness video or you could have it playing at a worship station.

I have lots of sticky notes and I am going to put this posters in back for our worship station today. I would like you to think of something you say about your faith or about God and something you do and put them up on the boards. You may need to help your parents or people sitting near you do this as well. (distribute sticky notes how is best for you–hand out, have in pews, have at a worship station)

20130822-223749.jpgLet’s pray. Jesus, your love is with us all the time. Help us to say what we know about you to others and help us to act in ways that show your love. Amen

20130822-223908.jpg+ May your lips speak of Jesus and may your actions show God’s love for the world. +

 

FaithCross_WorshipPut up the poster boards with SAY and DO and have sticky notes available for people to write what they Say about their faith and what they Do about their faith.

Children’s sermon Matthew 20: 1-16, year A, 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Sept. 21, 2014

 

Preparation: Have some crackers, some small cups and a pitcher of water on hand.

20130822-223315.jpg As the children come forward have the ones that arrive at the front first sit closest to you. Then have other children who arrived after sit a little further away and the ones that are last sit down the aisle a bit. Don’t explain why, just “make” them sit that way.

FaithCrossAsk the children closest to you about their day, how’s it going? What did they do? Congratulate them on being first to Children’s sermon or message and offer them a snack (crackers) and a small cup of water. Ask them how they feel about being first and up close. Do they deserve it because they were first? You can affirm that perhaps by begin the fastest or the closest that they do deserve more than the other children. (Even if a child gets ahead of you and says “no,” go with it!!!) Ask what should those who are up close do about those that are far away? Should we offer them a snack and cup of water? (Hopefully, they will say yes! J)  Have the children that are further away come close and have the children that were up close serve them the snack.

20130822-223633.jpg Say, “In today’s Bible story, Jesus tells a story about a vineyard owner who hires people in the early morning, mid-morning, noon, afternoon and evening. So there were some people who were first to the work and others that came later and didn’t work as long. When the day was done and it came time for them to get paid, they all got the same amount! But the workers, who worked all day and got the same amount of money as the people who worked only an hour didn’t think that was fair and they complained. They didn’t think that it was fair that they got the same thing as people who came after them. Maybe it wasn’t but Jesus says that God wants everyone to have what they need. Just like we wanted the kids in the back to also get snack and water because we care about them, God cares about all people the same no matter what! We are to care about all people no matter what too!”

FaithCross_Worship Have a calendar for the rest of the month into October available. (See pdf) Color each day box either red, blue, orange, yellow, green, purple or leave it white. Follow the instructions on the calendar for how much money to donate to World Hunger on the calendar.

World Hunger Calendar – It will begin downloading when you click the link.

20130822-223749.jpgThank you God for loving each and every one of us. Help us to love each other as you love us. We pray for everyone in the world to have enough to eat, clean water and a safe place to live. In Jesus name, amen.

20130822-223908.jpg+Remember that God loves you no matter what.+

Children’s Sermon Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Matthew 18:21-35, Sept 14, 2014

Prepare: You really don’t need any items for this, but you do need people!  You are going to need about 6 people minimum to make this work.  If you are in a place where that might be difficult to do with just children, make sure that you recruit a few helpers!

20130822-223520.jpgAsk the children if they know what forgiveness is and take a few answers.

FaithCross Today Jesus is talking about forgiveness, but not just how often to forgive, but whom to forgive.  The whole conversation starts with Peter asking how many times you should forgive, but Jesus takes it one step further . . . or maybe many, many steps further.  Jesus tells a story about a king who forgives a servant, which is great for the servant! But that same servant won’t forgive a fellow servant in the same way. The king gets mad and punishes the servant. There are all kinds of things to talk about in this story, but the one that really catches my attention is that the servant stops the forgiveness. The king starts something good, he forgives the servant, but the servant doesn’t pass it on.

Let’s try to demonstrate this. First I need a helper. Now, all of you are going to raise your hands. When my helper touches your shoulder you can lower your hands, but if I touch your should you have to put them back up. Ready? Go!

Let this go on for a minute or so to demonstrate how the helper will never really get anywhere if you are working against her/him.

Ok, this is getting us know where! Just like in the story, the servant worked against the king’s forgiveness and everyone suffered. Let’s change the game so that when you get to put your hands down you then touch your neighbor’s shoulder so they can put their hands down.  Ready? Go.

Wow, that when much faster! Now think about how nice it would be to live in a world where we all forgave each other and just let things go!

FaithCross_Worship For the worship station, the idea above gets taken to the whole congregation. If you have time, have the congregation “forgive” each other one at a time just like the children did, then do the next step.  If you don’t have much time just do the next step.

Next, have each person “forgive” two other people.  Start with one person touching one person’s shoulder so they can lower their hands, then the person who just lowered their hands touches two shoulders. Then each of those people touch two shoulders and so on. See how much faster it is when we forgive many others, not just one other!

20130822-224425.jpg   Forgiving God, through the grace of Jesus you forgive us no matter what we do! Help us to be forgiving people, even when it is difficult to do.  Amen

20130822-223908.jpg  Be at peace in God’s forgiveness.

 

~GB

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Children’s Sermon Matthew 18: 15-20, September 7, Year A Pentecost13

Preparation: Have different colors of paper or stickers or a simple way to put kids in groups of three. Make sure real little ones are with older ones.

20130822-223454.jpgGather children with you and ask, ‘what does it mean to gather?’ Take answers. Explain that gathering is to bring things or people together. “For example, I have these papers (stickers, whatever you are using) all gathered together and spread out. Now I am going to hand each of you one and I want you to gather with the other kids that have the same thing as you. Sit knee to knee with them once you find them”

(Hint–to make this go faster, have older kids prepped ahead of time OR give kids near each other the same object/color. You may also want older kids or teens prepared to be with a group or sit between them to help them along)

20130822-223633.jpgWe heard from Jesus today that when two or three are gathered in Jesus name, then he is there. Now we know that Jesus is with us all the time, even when we are alone. So what do you think happens when more people are gathered? Take answers. Talk about how Jesus is in the midst of that and helps us to reach others, show each other Jesus is there, and live out Jesus’ love.

“Now I would like you in your group to think of one way you could gather in Jesus name. Let’s start with an easy one. One way we gather with two or more is right here in worship! And when we gather here in worship we connect with each other and with God. Now you think of other places or ways you gather either here, or at home, or at school, or somewhere you volunteer.” Give them a minute. Then ask, “Ok, where are they places you gather?” Take their answers. Help them if needed. Then add to each one how that is gathering in Jesus name. For example–at home they gather for a meal and pray, or prayer before bed. At school they gather on the playground and gather in Jesus name when they are kind to a new kid or invite a lonely one in to their game. At a park they gather and Jesus is there in the way they treat each other. Maybe they are in boy scouts or girl scouts and they gather for an activity in helping someone else. Give them ways they can connect what they do each day with Jesus’ presence.

20130822-223749.jpgJesus, you promise to be with us when we are together and when we serve you. Help us to remember you are with us in all the ways we gather. Help us to remember to pray and connect with you. Thank you for your love. Amen

20130822-223908.jpgMake the sign of the cross while saying:

God in my head
God in my heart
God on my left
God on my right