Faith+Home Connection March 2012

Faith + Open: In Lent we focus on repentance, renewal and community. A beloved story from the Old Testament that is often drawn upon in this season is that of Jonah and the big fish. Jonah is a prophet who runs away from God’s command to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. He spends three days (note the same span that Jesus is dead) before being released from the fish. Jesus uses the metaphor of Jonah being in the fish for three days for his own death and resurrection. Read the whole book of Jonah as a family either in one sitting (it is not long) or in two or three installments. It is found on page 190 of the Spark Story Bible. Begin your devotion time by lighting a candle and a prayer.

Faith + Share: For adults: Was there a time when you know you ran from God? Why did you “hide”? Or how did you “hide”? We don’t all physically run away, sometimes we choose activities that keep us from God. What are the things that keep you from a close relationship with God? TV, food, work, hobbies? These things in and of themselves are not bad but when they keep us from devotion, worship and service they can be an obstacle. The old trite saying is true that we sometimes have to hit rock bottom (or get swallowed by a whale!) before we know that we need God to save us and we need to remember our identity as God’s child. Has someone ever told you something or asked you something that made you realize that you were in need of confession and repentance like the Ninevites? How did you react?

For children: Sometimes it’s hard to do the things that God wants us to do. Have you ever tried to be nice to someone who was not being nice to you? What did that feel like? Hard, easy, scary? Jonah felt that it was too hard to go to Nineveh to tell them that God wanted them to say they were sorry for the things they had done so he went on a boat instead! But God had a big fish swallow him and Jonah knew that he had to listen to God. So Jonah went to Nineveh (after being spit out by the fish! EWWW!) and told the Ninevites to say they were sorry to God. Jonah still wanted the people of Nineveh to be punished by God though. But God forgave them instead! This surprised Jonah! God forgives us even when we may not deserve it! Have you ever been forgiven by someone even when maybe you didn’t deserve it? When?

Faith + Serve: Just as Jonah was sent to proclaim God’s love to people he didn’t know in Nineveh, so we too are sent to tell people all over the world that God loves them! One way that we do that in the ELCA is to help people in malaria infested countries receive nets to protect them from mosquitoes. For only $10 a net can be given to a family and can save a life! For Lent have a change jar on a kitchen counter or some other prominent place. Every time you pray for a meal or pray at church, or anywhere, put some change in the jar. Have a family goal of 2 or 3 nets for the six week period!

Faith + Blessing: Anytime someone leaves the house offer this blessing: No matter where you go, God is with you! 

Transfiguration Children’s Sermon Year B

Faith + Open: gather the children to where you hold children’s time.  Ask: “Do you know that we have a special word that we use in the church to praise God for loving us? What word do you think that might be?(accept all answers) Well those are great words too but this is a neat one that I really like: it is Alleluia. Can you say that? Have you heard that in worship or in other places? We sing it most often before the Gospel is read and other place in the worship service. (Sing the Gospel acclamation Alleluia if you are comfortable!) Do you all know “Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, Alleluia, Praise Ye the Lord”? Let’s sing that!

Faith + Share: We sing that song and we are so happy that God loves us and gives us life with God forever! It is a wonderful and joyful song! Well today is the last Sunday before a season that we call Lent. On Ash Wednesday, this Wednesday, you will come to church and we will tell God how sorry we are about the things we shouldn’t do and we get a cross made from ashes put on our foreheads to remind us that we belong to God. It’s important to say we’re sorry and to admit when we have done something wrong, right?

Well, we think about that in Lent and we remember that God loves us so much that God sent Jesus to earth to tell us how much God doesn’t want the wrong things we sometimes do to hurt our relationship with God. God wants us close always! So we have a few weeks to think about how God loves us and how Jesus died on a cross out of love for us. To help us focus on that, we don’t sing or use the joyful word Alleluia for the whole six weeks of Lent. We wait to sing it again on Easter Sunday on the day that Jesus rose from the dead when we can celebrate that God gives us life forever too!

So I have a slip of paper for each of you that has the word Alleluia on it. We are going to put away the Alleluia’s for the next six weeks and to help us remember we will put the Alleluia’s in this box. (Have a large box covered in purple paper with Lenten symbols on it. Have the top open and be prepared to tie the box closed with string or ribbon.) On Easter morning will you help me take the Alleluia’s out so that we can sing it? All right!

Faith + Prayer: Loving God, we don’t want to not sing Alleluia, even for just a little while, but we also don’t want to take for granted your deep and everlasting love for us. Thank you for loving us and for being with us always. In the name of your Son Jesus who loved us enough to die for us, Amen.

Faith+Blessing: May your eyes be opened to see all the amazing works of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

*Note: if you have more than one service, use a different box for each service. On Easter morning have the slips of paper that the children put in the boxes attached to helium balloons that will rise up at the beginning of service on Easter. The more balloons the more exciting the effect! For more information on the burying of the Alleluias please see http://www.elca.org/Growing-In-Faith/Worship/Learning-Center/FAQs/Alleluias-During-Lent.aspx

~BW

Epiphany 6 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Preparation: a Lighting McQueen toy.  Keep it hidden in a bag!

Faith+Open: As the children gather get, them ready for a silly competition.  For example, in my worship setting the children usually sit on the floor of the chancel.  I might have them all remain standing and have a race to see who can sit down criss-cross the fastest on the count of 3.

Faith+Share:  You guys sure can sit down fast!  Do you like to race? (Wait for a few answers.)  Have you ever been in a race that had a prize at the end?  Maybe a ribbon or a medal? (Get a few answers again.)  I brought a famous racer today, can anyone tell me about this guy?  What was he racing for (in the first movie!)?  That’s right, the Piston Cup!  Well, one of the Bible stories today Paul (remember him?  The guy who wrote all those letters?) writes about a race.  He talks about how when people race it usually for something that doesn’t last, like a trophy or a ribbon or, like in Paul’s day, a wreath that would dry up and be tossed aside.  Paul says that we also run a race with for a prize that lasts forever, but it’s not really the same kind of race.  Remember our friend Lighting here?  Well, at the end of the first movie he is racing against his two big rivals, Chick Hicks and The King.  Lighting is doing everything he can to win the race so that he can get the Piston Cup and a new team, but when Chick Hicks makes The King crash he stops and helps him, and loses the race!  But he wins a much better prize than a trophy because he stopped to help someone and to show real love a care.  That’s like the race Paul is talking about.  A race to learn how to love other people the way God loves us.  Paul is encouraging us to share God’s stories, and to show God’s love to everyone.  By doing that, we can be God’s light in the world and we can help other people win their races, too.

Faith+Prayer:  Loving God, teach us to run your race!  To love each other the way that you love us. Amen

Faith+Blessing: May your eyes be opened to see all the amazing works of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Epiphany 5 Year B Isaiah 40:21-31 (with Mark 1:29-39)

Scripture: Isaiah 40:21-31 (with Mark 1:29-39)

Preparation: If possible come in wearing something that makes it look like you have been working out (like running shoes, a sweatshirt) and bring a water bottle.

Faith+Open: Find a way to jog into the worship space (up the center isle or something like that).  Make it sound like you just made it in time as you call the children together, and act as breathless as possible.

Faith+Share:  Wow! Just made it!  I really thought that I was going to have to sit down before I got here, I was just so tired.  But, I knew that I really wanted to share this story with you today, so I prayed for a little more strength and ran as fast as I could!  The really funny thing, is that the story is about God giving us strength when we need it most.  Here, listen to it again
 
     He gives power to the faint
and strengthens the powerless
Even youths will faith and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted
but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength
They shall mount up on wings like eagles
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Pretty cool, huh?  All of us get tired and want to stop.  Most of the time it’s ok to be tired, we can just head to bed or take a nap, but sometimes we need to keep going.  Can you think of some times when you need to keep going even if you are tired? (Give them a little time to think and answer.)  Those are all great reasons to keep going!  Sometimes it seems like we are going forever and never getting to the goal!  I know that when I was in school it felt like summer would never come, but I just kept working and trying and when summer finally did come I always felt so great!  God does more than just giving us strength and love.  The Gospel story today tells about Jesus healing people who are sick in many different ways.  All kinds of people come to Jesus so that he can help them to feel better and keep going!  And it seems like most of the people Jesus healed were too sick to come on their own, so other people bring them.  That is another way that God helps is, by giving us family and friends to carry us be with us when we need them.  So, even when we are weak or sick God finds a way to give us strength and help us to keep going.

Faith+Prayer:  Healing God, thank you for being our strength when we need it most! Thank you for putting people around us who love us and are willing to help us.  Be with us each day and give us strength to keep going, even when the task is hard and we are tired.  Amen.

Faith+Blessing: May your eyes be opened to see all the amazing works of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Faith+Home Connection February 2012

Faith + Open: Gather your household in a comfortable space. Light a candle and offer a prayer for your time together. Prayer: Gracious God, we give you thanks for this day and for our time together here. We are so grateful for all the blessings in our lives and we pray for those who have less. We pray for abundant life for all of your creation. Amen

Faith + Scripture: Read 2 Kings 5: 1-19 Elisha cures Naaman Spark Story Bible page 148. With younger children read the story and then have them act out the story.

Faith + Share: There are many themes in this story. The pain and desperation of someone with a terrible disease, the misunderstanding of the simple cure, being seemingly snubbed by the person you sought help from, and the over-arching theme of coming to believe in God.

For Adults: Naaman asked for help from the King of Israel but the king knew that he was not the correct person for the job. Elisha knew that this was his role in God’s kingdom and steps up. Has there ever been a time when someone has come to you with a serious problem or issue and you just knew that you could not help them? What did you do? Did you find someone else or direct them differently? Elisha did not receive Naaman but sent only directions. Some may think it was because maybe Elisha was afraid of the leprosy but what if it that wasn’t the reason? Why else would Elisha not see Naaman? Understandably, Naaman was angry and almost didn’t follow the directions that Elisha gave as he felt snubbed by the prophet. He also didn’t believe the cure. It’s common to “blow off” or ignore the simplest explanation that is given to us. Sometimes we may even ignore God as the message didn’t come how we thought or wasn’t what we expected. How can we be more open to hearing God in our lives? How can we help others?

For Children: Sometimes we all get sick. There are many people that God gives us in our lives to take care of us, moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, doctors and nurses. When was a time that you were sick and someone made you feel better? What did they do? After Naaman was cured he was so happy and he went back to the prophet Elisha to say thank you to God. How can we let God know that we are grateful that God takes care of us?

Prayer: Dear God we thank you for caring for us. You give us people who love us and help us when we need it. Help us to take care of our friends and family and to show them your love, God. There is no other God other than you and you bring us peace. Be with us always! In Jesus name we pray, amen.

Faith + Serve: Find some fun and bright plain greeting cards. Write little notes for children that are in the hospital. Let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. Let them know that God loves them very much!

Faith + Blessing: After Naaman came back to say that he believed in God and to say thank you, Elisha tells Naaman to “Go in Peace.” When anyone in the family leaves the home for school, work or other activity make the peace sign with your fingers and say “go in peace.”

Epiphany 4 Year B 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Preparation: Address an envelope to “The Children of (your church).”  Try to make it look like an actual letter from Paul, so the return address should be Ephesus.  Find a good sticker to serve as a stamp.  The only thing that needs to be on the letter inside is “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

Faith+Open: As the children gather, show them the letter and ask if any of them have every gotten a letter or card in the mail, wait for a few answers.

Faith+Share:  Today we heard a little bit of a really long letter.  The letter was written by a guy named Paul to one of first churches in a city called Corinth.  The part that we heard talks a lot about food, meat in particular.  There seems to be a whole lot of worry about what meat to eat, and if it’s ok to eat meat from temples that do not worship God and Jesus.  As I was reading through the part of the letter that we heard it seemed to me that Paul was kind of saying, “You know what?  This whole thing about meat is not really the point.”  I looked back at the beginning of the passage and saw this little sentence, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

Pull out your letter here and show the children the words.

What the heck does that mean?  Well, let’s think about this another way.  Have you ever met a know-it-all?  Someone who thinks that they have all the answers?  Paul is talking to some people like that.  You see, the people of the church in Corinth were telling people that they knew what God wanted, and that all people should just live like them.  Paul says to them that they might be right, but being a know-it-all about it just makes people feel bad.  See, there were some people in that church who thought that it was wrong to eat the meat from the temples, they thought that God would not love them any more if they did eat it.  Paul said, if it makes some people uncomfortable then you should not do it, even if you know that God will still love you.  That comes back to our letter from Paul.  Being a know-it-all puffs people up, it makes the know-it-all seem mean and makes the people around upset.  But, if we listen to each other and act in love it builds us all up and makes us a stronger and happier group of people.

Faith+Prayer: :  Loving God, help us to being loving toward each other in all our actions.  Teach us to share what we know in ways that build up our community.  Help us remember that you love us no matter what.  Amen

Faith+Blessing: May your eyes be opened to see all the amazing works of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Epiphany 3 Year B Mark 1:14-20

Scripture: Mark 1:14-20

Preparation: Find a fishing net and some toy fish. Make sure that you emphasize the work “gather” throughout the children’s time.

Faith+Open: Call the children together by saying something like, “Come look what I caught!”  When they are close enough to see what is in the net give them a chance to see the fish.

Faith+Share: Today I have a net.  Look at these fish that I gathered in here.  It looks like I did pretty well, don’t you think?  If these were real fish I could eat for a few days on this many fish.  Well, maybe not, they are kind of small.  Have any of you ever gone fishing? (Leave a little time for them to answer.)  Have you ever used a net?  (Allow answers again.)  Usually, with this kind of net you would probably catch the fish on a pole, then use the net to scoop them into the boat.  In the Gospel lesson today we hear about some fishermen who use nets too, but their nets are huge!  They drag their nets behind them in the water and gather a bunch of fish, kind of like I have here (Drag the net a little like you are scooping the fish off the ground).

When Jesus sees these fishermen he knows that they would make good disciples and he calls to them.  He says, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”  They drop their nets and follow, but what do you think Jesus means?  Do you think he means they should drag nets along behind them and scoop people up?  (Give a second for the silly image to sink in.)  No, that wouldn’t work!  I think that Jesus means that he will teach them to gather people together, like the net gather  the fish.  Instead of a net, Jesus is going to teach his disciples the Good News that Jesus is bringing to the world.  People will gather around the stories and words of Jesus, and we can help by sharing the good news, too!

Faith+Prayer: :  Gracious God, teach us to gather around your word and be fishers of people, just like the disciples in this story.  Help us to share the stories about Jesus with other people and to show the world your love and peace.  Amen

Faith+Blessing: May your eyes be opened to see all the amazing works of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Epiphany 2 Year B John 1:43-51

Scripture: John 1:43-51

Preparation: Small toy of a large animal (like an elephant, or dinosaur), either in your pocket or in a small bag or backpack.

Faith+Open: As the children start to gather, call to them and say, “I have a whole elephant in my pocket!  Come and see!”  As the kids gather around, ask them what they think of you having a whole elephant in your pocket.  Take a few answers and then show them the toy.

Faith+Share: OK, I tricked you a little bit.  I did have an elephant in my pocket, but just a toy.  Sometimes this trick happens in a bigger way!  For example, in Kansas there is a sign by one of the main highways that says, “Come and see the World’s biggest prairie dog!”  Did you hear those three words again?  “Come and See.”  The prairie dog is huge, but it’s made out of concrete, it’s not real, just like the elephant.  We hear things like this all the time, maybe not exactly “Come and See,” but people talking about amazing, fantastic stuff that just isn’t real, or is not as amazing as they make it seem.

Today’s Gospel story has this same thing, an amazing, fantastic, unbelievable story, and it’s not quite what it seems; but this time it’s even better than it seems.  Jesus is talking to the people who will become his closest friends, his disciples.  Some of them just don’t quite believe that Jesus is who he says he is.  One in particular, Nathanael, says something kind of mean.  He says, how can Jesus be any good at all, look where he’s from!  Nothing good can come from that place.  His friend, Phillip says those three words, “Come and See.”  When Nathanael meets Jesus, Jesus tells Nathanael something that Jesus could not possibly know.  When Nathanael hears it, he believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus says, “but wait!  There’s more!”  If you think that was amazing, I tell you that you will see heaven opened up and the angels of God flying around me.  The story just gets better, Come and See!

Faith+Prayer: Amazing God, you keep surprising us with you love and mercy.  Help us to open our eyes and see the wonders of the world you made.  Open our hearts so that we might love each other as you love us. Amen.

Faith+Blessing: May your eyes be opened to see all the amazing works of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Baptism of Jesus Year B Mark 1:4-11

Scripture: Mark 1:4-11

There are so many wonderful children’s stories on baptism. Consider for this Sunday reading the Gospel from the Jesus Storybook Bible as one way to tell the story. Other resources are Welcome, Child of God by Anne Ylvisaker–a very short board book that can be read in worship. Or Come Right in Your Home God says when we are Baptized. These books could be read at the beginning or in the midst of this children’s sermon if you have enough time or they could be out on display for ideas for others. Augsburg FortressWashed and Welcome series has some great resources. 
Also a note that the children’s sermon for January 1 could be adapted for this Sunday as well

Faith+Open: Gather the children with you either in the usual place or around the baptism fount. One idea would be to have the fount up near the altar for this Sunday.

Faith+Share: Today we are remembering and focusing on the baptism of Jesus and what it means for us to remember our baptism everyday. What are some things that you do everyday? (take answers–brush teeth, eat, drink, etc) Yes, we do all those things everyday! There is something that was not mentioned that I would like us to do everyday as well–that is remember our baptism. Do you know what baptism is? (take answers and fill in with information if needed while summarizing) Yes baptism is when a person, lots of times a baby, is marked as a child of God with water and oil. We say you are ‘sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever’. We are baptized once, but we are to know forget about it but remember and live out that we are children of God everyday.

OPTION: insert one of the stories or show pictures of Jesus baptism from a children’s Bible.

One way that we remember this is by knowing that the Holy Spirit is with us all the time. We are given the Holy Spirit but we also give the love of the Holy Spirit to others. Can you put one hand on your tummy and another out in front of your mouth? Now take a deep breath in and feel your tummy go up. (Do this together). Now let that breath out and feel it on your hand. Our breath goes in and out everyday just like the Spirit is with us and goes out to those around us everyday. We can take deep breathes in and out to remember and to know God is with us all the time. We can also remember our baptisms when we use water–like when we brush our teeth or take bath and we cans say a prayer.

Faith+Prayer: Let’s practice that now: Keep your hands on your tummy and take a deep breath in and out. Now prayer with me. God, thank you for your gift of baptism. Help me remember that I am a child of God everyday. Help me to share your love and grace. Amen

Faith+Blessing: Go in peace remembering you are a precious child of God + in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.

Christmas 1 Year B Luke 2: 22-40

Scripture: Luke 2:22-40

Faith+Open: Gather the children around the baptismal font.

Faith+Share: Ask: Does anyone know what this is? What do we do here? (baptize babies, children, adults) That’s right! We baptize people of all ages and promises are made to them. God’s promise of eternal life and love is stated, parents promise to teach their children about God both at home and at church and we as a congregation promise to also teach them about God and be willing to help them in their faith. All of these promises were also given to you!

How can we teach people about God? (Reading the Bible, praying, singing, talking about God with them, someday teaching Sunday school, etc.) Who teaches you about God? ( Accept all answers)

In today’s Bible story we hear about two people Simeon and Anna. They were special people who lived in the temple praising God all day and all night. One day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to church just like your family brought you this morning. Simeon and Anna held the baby Jesus and gave him a blessing and told his parents how special Jesus was, just like at your baptism. We are so blessed that God gives us people in our lives to tell us how special we are to God!

Faith+Blessing: Make sure that there is water in the baptismal font. Dip your hand in the water and bless each child by saying: “God I thank you for ______(this child) bless them forever.”

Faith+PrayerGod, thank you for giving us people who tell us how much you love us! Help us to tell others that you love them too! Thank you for your son Jesus, Amen.

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.