Here is the devotion page for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, July 24, 2016. (Click on the words!)
Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!
Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!
Here is the devotion page for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, July 24, 2016. (Click on the words!)
Just click on the picture to download the PDF file!
Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!
Preparation: get an assistant to either flash a light or make a small noise to distract you as you begin. Tell them to start out subtle before becoming more obvious to everyone.
Gather the children to you. Welcome them and start to tell them about the gospel story today. Prompt your assistance to start the light or noise distraction. As you start talking, fade off,lose your place, etc as you are distracted by the noise or light.
Say, “Wow I really want to focus on this Bible story but it’s hard, I keep getting distracted. Anyone else distracted?” Have the kids point out to you the distraction and then invite your assistant to join you. “This is like our bible story today. Jesus’s visiting sisters Mary and Martha. Martha is making dinner and trying to get this ready to be welcoming to her guest. Well she gets distracted by her sister Mary of helping her and she gets upset and tells Jesus to help her get Mary to come help. Jesus knows Martha is distracted by her worry and frustration and tells her that Mary is focusing in on Gods word and has also chosen a good thing. Jesus wants Martha to remember what the main focus is of being welcoming and that is to show care for others in Gods name.”
“Do you ever get distracted? What kinds of things distract you?” (Take answers, be prepared to prompt… Could mention the movie “Up” where the dog is always distracted by the squirrel or electronics, etc.). “Many things that are good and things that are not so good can distract us from remembering we are to focus on Jesus words and live our life based on his words and promises, even our thoughts and feelings can get in the way. I think I need that reminder to focus on Jesus and that many of us do. What are ways we can do this?” (Take answers, mention prayer and worship and reading scripture. If you use the inserts or other daily devotional in your congregation this is a great time to show it and teach again how to use it.)
Centering Prayer option: “All of these are good ways. And sometimes it good for us to take a little God time out. It can even be really short. It’s a time when we can just let our mind be open to listen for God. To do this we have to get pretty quiet, do you know how to be quiet? Let’s try. Good. Now I am going to set this time for just 30 seconds and we are going to try together to do a centering prayer. This means all we are going to breath in and think the word “Jesus” and breath out and think the words “Loves Me”. If other thoughts come just take a breath and remember your words. Let’s try together once and then we will set the timer.” Practice this together and see how it goes!
Set up a centering prayer/meditation area. Put out some pillows to sit on or chairs that are set a part from the worship space. Or simply provide the resources in the pews. Provide card with different kinds of centering prayer. You can write some simple ones like the example of “Jesus loves me” or “Come Holy Spirit” and/or print up some other resources from here: Contemplative Outreach
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.
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.
In this busy season, making time to check in with those in our households or with those whom we are in close relationship is vital. There are many ways to do this! Here is one: Gather your household around the Christmas tree or the Advent wreath (if you have one), or simply light a candle. Where do you see God doing something new in your life today? Where do pray for God’s work to be revealed?
This is not a “typical” getting ready for Christmas scripture text. No mention of Mary, John the Baptist, prophets, little town of Bethlehem, a baby or any of the images we associate with this time of year. So why is this part of our Advent reading? I tend to think it has something to do with verse six: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication and thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
For children: What are you excited about today? What is it that you are having a hard time waiting for? Presents? Time off of school? Snow? What are you worried about today? Tests? Friends? Brother or sister? Mom or dad? Our Bible reading tells us not to worry about anything but to know that God hears our joys and our worries. Make some colorful strips of paper about two inches by about eight inches to create a paper chain. You can have 24 of them to count down to Christmas. But on each chain each day, write or draw something that you are excited about and something that you are worried about. This will be a daily prayer to God. Each day add a chain (families can create one large chain or each person can have their own prayer chain) and hang it on your Christmas tree as a reminder that Christmas is about God with us!
For youth/adults: Worry has been a primary human emotion for thousands of years. It seems that we are wired to worry about anything and everything. Some worry is good and healthy as it can keep us safe but often our worry goes overboard. Paul and the community at Philippi were not immune from worry. Paul is reminding them (and us!) that worry can crowd out our rejoicing and to offer all of daily lives, each part, to God. What is worrying you today? What brings you peace in the midst of worry? When you find yourself worrying about circumstances you can’t control, write down the worry, (paper, phone or computer) and say a prayer of thanksgiving that God is with us always.
“Let you gentleness be known to everyone.” God is gentle and loving with us and we want to show the world God’s gentleness. When someone cuts you off in traffic, in line at the store, or is rude to you, offer them a prayer of grace. When you do those same actions (as we all do!), offer yourself a prayer of grace as well! For younger children, have a small jar in a prominent place where each time someone (adults too) in the household is gentle, kind, and showing God’s love, a coin (pick which denomination works for you) can go in the jar. At the end of the month, as a household, chose a place to donate the coins. (You can have the children decorate the jar or container if you would like and keep this project going.)
Prepare: See if you can track down a copy of “Should I Share My Ice Cream?” by Mo Willems (here is a link to Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Should-Share-Cream-Elephant-Piggie/dp/1423143434). You can also probably find a copy at a local library. If you cannot find this book, look for a book about how fun it can be to share something. The premise of “Should I Share My Ice Cream” is the tension between wanting to share and wanting to keep something for yourself.
For the worship station you will need access to the bread portion of your communion service, a basket of some kind and some small pieces of paper.
Gather the children around and ask them about their favorite flavor of ice cream, or something that relates to the book that you found. Then ask them what it feel like to share that flavor, or thing with other people.
Read the book!
What do you think about the story? Why do you think that it was so hard for Gerald to decide what to do with his Ice Cream?
In the Bible story that we hear today, Jesus points out a woman who is giving a very small amount of money to the church, something like giving a penny. Jesus notices her and says that she is actually giving much, much more than most of the other people. That penny is all that she had to live on, to buy food, clothes, and she gave it all away – she shared it!
The idea of sharing the all that we have is pretty scary, but when we all share together, then we can all have enough, just like Gerald and Piggy both getting some ice cream.
Have the paper ready
Go get the communion bread, or go near it and talk about how this small amount of bread feeds all the people in the room. One person could certainly eat it all, but there is enough to go around, it we all share.
Invite the congregation to think about other things in there lives that can be shared so that all have enough – have them write those things on one side of the paper. Then have them turn the paper over and have them write what it feels like to share something wonderful with someone else.
Gather the papers together and use them as part of the prayers of the church. The whole basket can be blessed, but also pull a few out to read as part of the prayer. Use some for the things we know we should share, and use some to praise God for the gift of sharing.
Have the children gather in their usual place without you. Walk around the worship space asking them if they can hear you. Sometimes be loud or with your mic on, sometimes have your mic off, whisper and one time just think it to yourself and then ask them if they can hear you. When you reach them, ask them, “Could you always hear me? Was it always easy to hear me? When I didn’t speak at all, you had no idea what I wanted to communicate to you. If we have something important to tell one another we have to be sure that the other person can hear us.”
In our Bible story today, there was a man Bartimaeus who was born blind. He couldn’t see anything at all. But he had really good hearing. He heard that Jesus was coming to town and he knew that Jesus would help him. So he called out to Jesus for help. Jesus heard him and helped him. Jesus said that he was healed because Bartimaeus knew that Jesus would hear him. Jesus wants us to know that he will always hear us, whether we talk to God loudly, quietly or just in our hearts without saying any words out loud. Jesus is always with us, sees us, hears us and loves us no matter where we are or what we are doing. (Depending on the size of the group you can ask the following question) What do you want to ask Jesus today? Ask anything because Jesus promises to hear you! Sometimes we can’t always tell that Jesus has heard us and we wonder but that’s ok. We can even ask Jesus if he’s heard us! There is not anything that we can’t tell Jesus!
Jesus you promise to see us and to hear us always. We are grateful that we can ask you anything at all. We love to share your closeness and love with others. May we be like Bartimaeus, confident to call out to you no matter what. Amen.
Set up on a table a prayer station with post-it notes and pens. Have a basket to place the notes in. Invite people to ask Jesus anything they want on those post-it notes. They can place them in the basket to be read during the prayers in worship or taken home with them for their own prayer time (or both!). It’s also Reformation Sunday in many congregations. Have a brief reminder of the history and how Martin Luther posted questions for discussion on the door at Wittenburg. You could also have people place their post-it notes on the worship space door. Be sure to close the prayer with words of assurance that Jesus always hears us even when we aren’t sure or can’t see the outcome we desire.
Prepare: You don’t need to prepare anything specific, but be ready to lead the children’s sermon from a new place, or at a different time, or . . .
The idea is to do something different so people cannot just be on “autopilot” during the children’s sermon and worship station.
Jesus is changing things around in the story today, too. He goes into his hometown and tries to change how they understand the Bible. He tries to show the people who have known him his whole life a new way to understand the healing power of God. He tries to show them something new and they just don’t like it!
This happens to us, too. Maybe we show up at work or at school and our schedule is not what we thought it was going to be. Or maybe you get served your favorite food but it has a spice or flavor that you are not used to and you don’t like it. It can be really hard to try something different, especially when we like it just fine the old way, and sometimes even more if the NEW way is somehow better!
We like things the way they are often because it is comfortable and safe. We don’t like to take risks and change things. Jesus calls on us to look at the world a different way. Jesus wants us to see the good news and share God’s hope and healing, even when it is difficult to do, and even when people might reject the news we have. Jesus has advice for that, too! He tells his disciples to spread the good news and offer healing wherever the go. If the people there don’t want to hear what they have to say, then they should just shake it off and move on.
A little church camp mixer! Encourage people (demand?) to get up and move around the sanctuary and find someone that they don’t know very well. Sit down with them and find out something new about them.
Then have those groups of two people join into a group of four people and introduce their new friends to each other.
The last piece is to create a small prayer group from those four people. Invite them to share a prayer request with the group of four and ask them to commit to praying for each other throughout the week.
Ideally, you have these groups of four check in the next week!
Preparation: create a photo or picture collage of things that we do with our friends, different activities, etc. Put either a cross or praying hands in the center. OR draw a big scribble and put the name of a friend in one of the sections and then different things about him/her around it–for more details go to the blog Worshipping with With at this link. You will need to scroll down to the ideas for this text. This is to have a visual. The message can be done all orally if you choose.
Gather the children. Ask them to name some things they do with friends. Show them your poster and talk about those things (add to it if you can) or Show them your name scribble and talk about your friend in particular.
“There are many things we can do with our friends. You know Jesus had friends too. He had his disciples and the people who followed him and he did all kinds of things with them. Can you think of any? He walked with them, talked, hung out under trees, went to cities and towns, drank and ate, etc. Do you think he did any of the things we listed like play games? Well today we hear from Jesus who had done all these wonderful things with his friends and we hear that Jesus reaches out to us too and calls us friend, a loved child of God. And what he is doing is praying. Yep he’s ‘thinking about all the things his friends have done and all the things they will need to do even when he is not with them any more to teach about God’s love. He’s thinking about them and about us and he is praying. He prays that all those ways that we live and play and learn are ways that we also show love to others. He prays that we will know what to do when hard things come into our lives. He prays that we will know how to love others and that God will be with us. So Jesus prayed for the disciples and he prayed for each one of you–that you will know how to be friend and love others.”
If you have done the name scribble, tell the kids how to do this and then encourage them to do this during the sermon or at a worship station or at home. Describe how the name scribble shows things about the person that they can pray for specifically. They can make this for their friend, say the prayers for them when they give it them or before, like a blessing of the drawing.
“One of the ways I have been taught to pray is to hold hands so that both thumbs point left.”Demonstrate by holding hands of the two children on either side of you. “See one hand is underneath, so it is being supporting this person. The other hand is on top so it is being supported. Let’s hold hands in a circle so that we are being supported by our neighbor and offering support to the other neighbor as well pray. Jesus, thank you for the gift of friends. Thank you for sending us to the world to be a friend. Help us to love them and support them and show them your grace. Amen”
Jesus’ prayer today gives us a promise and blessing that we will also always be held in his love. Let’s say our blessing together while making the sign of the cross. “God in my head, God in my heart, God on my left, God on my right” Amen
Worship Station: Have paper and markers and sample ‘friend scribbles’. Invite people to pray for a friend or friends by creating this name scribble and praying for each part of their friend’s lives. Another way to do this would be to write different places on the globe or different issues in the spaces of the scribble and pray over them.
For adults and young children alike, it’s easy to think that all we have to do is pray and Jesus will heal us of everything that ails us: the flu, a cold, cancer, heart disease, mental illness, loneliness, etc. Reality is that we live in a world where bodies still get sick and die but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t hear our prayers and isn’t with us! The good news is that God’s promise is for life for us forever with God and God is with us in the pain and sorrow of the reality of disease and broken bodies in this life. As a community we also support, love and pray for each other as well as point out where God is at work when we can’t recognize it ourselves. Be sure with young children to emphasize God’s presence with them.
For children: What do you pray or talk to God about? Do you ever pray by yourself? God wants us to talk to God always! There is not anything that God isn’t ready to hear! How can you show God’s love to others? Do you think when we help someone, give a hug, offer nice words or draw a picture for them that we can make someone feel better if they are sad, sick or hurt?
For youth/adults: Where/when do you most often pray? Do you have a standard prayer, do you simply speak to God or do you sit in silence with God? People in our world are searching for something. We are all searching for happiness, joy, love, security, belonging, self-worth and the list goes on and on. In the Mark 1 story the disciples tell Jesus when he goes to a deserted place to pray that people are searching for him. The good news is that Jesus comes to us and searches for us. Jesus is always there. How can we reveal Jesus’ presence of love, hope, forgiveness and mercy in the world that is so desperately searching for those things? How do we use shopping, food, alcohol and other ways to fill our searching with what only God can offer us?
Pray for one another’s troubles and joys today. Offer prayers for all people to know that Jesus is with them and loves them. Pray to be filled with the love and compassion of Jesus for those who do not have enough to eat, adequate shelter, are lonely or are in need of healing in any way today.
In our Growing In Faith Together-Sunday School for All on February 15th we will be putting together Blessing Bags to keep in your car to hand out to those in need that you may come across in your day. We are collecting the following items: gallon size zip lock bags, juice pouches, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, non-perishable snacks, feminine hygiene products, tissues. We will also be making note cards with an encouraging message to go into the bags. As a household collect those items and make a few notes for the bags.
Find a simple and not too long “runner” rug or runner from a wedding.
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?
In 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!
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.