Children’s Sermon Maundy Thursday Year B John 13:1-17

Scriptures: John 13:1-17

Preparation:  Find a crown, or some other object that will make the children think of a classic fairy tale king, and a towel.  Put both the crown and towel into a bag with crown on top so you can get it out first, without showing the towel.

Faith+Open:  Start by reminding the children of the Palm Sunday chant, “Hosanna! Hosanna!”  Remember that great king we welcomed into Jerusalem on Sunday?  Now pull out the crown.

Faith+Share: :  I was thinking about that king, too, so I brought a crown.  What do you think about when you see a crown, or hear about a king? (wait for a few answers – since you are in “church mode” you might get a few answers of “Jesus!”  Try to get them to talk about the more fairy tale image of a mighty king.)  Yeah, kings are powerful and proud!  Do you think a king like that would come to your house and make your bed? Clean your room?  What about cleaning your bathroom for you?  No, probably not.

Well, listen to this, I know a story where a king sat down with his friends, then he washed their feet!  No kidding, he got a towel and a bowl of water and washed a bunch of stinky, dirty feet.  How would you feel about that?  A king washing your feet?  Well, by now you’ve probably figured out that I’m talking about Jesus.  That might be even more strange, don’t you think?  Jesus washing your feet!?!  I mean, he’s God’s son, he can do anything, and he chooses to wash a bunch of feet!  One of his friends, Simon Peter, feels the same way, he tried to get Jesus to stop, but Jesus says you must let me wash your feet, the smelliest, dirtiest part of you so that you can be really clean.  I think Jesus is talking about more than feet here.  Jesus cleans out all the bad things that we do, all the stinky parts of our life and forgives and loves us, even when we have stinky feet.  Come back on Sunday to hear the rest of the story!

Faith+Prayer:  Loving God, we thank you for washing away the stinky things that we do, and for forgiving us when we make mistakes.  Keep us ever in your love and forgiveness. Amen.

Faith+Blessing: Make the sign of the cross and say:

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

Children’s Sermon Palm Sunday B Mark 11:1-11-or-John 12:12-16

Scriptures: Mark 11:1-11-or-John 12:12-16

Option 1: If your Palm Sunday Worship does not include a procession you can use children’s time to celebrate the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  With or without palms, have the children gather into a parade and walk around the sanctuary shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna!”  Get them to make some noise!  Talk about how exciting it must have been to have see Jesus coming into the city, let them dance and shout.  Gather them together and use the prayer at the end.

Option 2:

Faith+Open:  As the children gather, make a significant change in your ritual.  For example, if you always have the children sit in a specific place, tell them that they can no longer sit there because someone spilled some really sticky glue on the floor and they would be stuck there forever.  Really ham it up.  Once you have a few of them going say “April Fool!”

Faith+Share: Do you guys know what an April fool’s joke is?  It’s what I just did to you, you try to convince people of something that’s just crazy or silly, then you say “April Fool!”  It’s one of my favorite days of the year, and this year it happens right on Palm Sunday, which I think is fantastic!  See, a really good April Fool’s joke makes people believe one thing, then surprises them with something else. 

NOTE:  This is where it is really important to make sure that you don’t make Holy Week into a joke.  Use the April Fool’s idea to get into the story, but don’t take it too far!

Today is the beginning of the greatest story in the Bible, the story of Holy Week.  I love it when Palm Sunday and April Fool’s Day are the same because the people in the story are expecting something when Jesus comes into Jerusalem.  The people who are cheering for Jesus are Israelites, and they are looking for the next great king to help them.  They imagine Jesus to be a king who will build an army, kick the Romans out of Jerusalem and save them from their enemies, but that’s not where the story goes.  Jesus certainly has come to save them, but not from the Romans, and not from any enemy that we can see.  Over the course of this next week, Jesus goes from being the crowd favorite to being the one person that everyone seems to hate.  His closest friends turn their backs on them, and the crowds that cheered for Jesus call for his crucifixion, call for Jesus to be killed.  The story doesn’t go the way they expect.

But there’s one more twist.  This craziest thing happens, something that people in the Bible even describe foolish or silly.  Jesus . . .well, you have to come back next week to hear the rest!

Faith+Prayer:  Hosanna!  Amazing God, we praise you for your love and mercy.  Travel with us through this Holy Week and be with us when the story doesn’t go the way we expect.  Amen.

Faith+Blessing: Make the sign of the cross and say:

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

Faith+Home Connection April 2012

Scripture: John 20: 19-31

Faith + Open: Gather all in your home to a place where you can be comfortable. Light a candle and open with prayer.

God of life, you come to us wherever we are so that we may know you in our lives. Thank you for the gift of faith and may we share that gift with everyone we know. Amen.

Faith + Share: Read John 20: 19-31 in your favorite family Bible.

With young children have them act out the story for a different perspective.

With adults, have different people read the different parts in the story.

Questions For children: Tell of a time when you were afraid? Who were you with? What made you feel better? We are all afraid sometimes, but when we are afraid we know that just as Jesus came to the disciples to give them peace, Jesus is with you and will give you peace too! Who can you tell about the peace of Jesus to?

Questions For adults: The disciples were hiding and afraid to go out into the world. Jesus came and gave them his peace and told them that they were now to go out into the world with the transforming message of God’s forgiveness and love. When we are afraid God comes to us, not once but over and over to share God’s peace with us and to remind us that we are not people who live in fear but in the proclamation of the good news of the resurrection of Jesus and we must go out and tell the world. What holds you back from fully embracing the message of Easter? Do we live as if Easter is real? What holds you back from telling your friends and neighbors about the love of God?

Faith + Serve: There are people afraid all over the world for a myriad of reasons: war, famine, violence, disease just to name a few. Begin by praying for those who live daily in fear for God’s Spirit of peace to flow into their lives. Then go to http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Responding-to-the-World/ELCA-World-Hunger.aspx and read about how you can make a difference in someone’s life!

Faith + Blessing: Jesus came and told the disciples “Peace be with you” and breathed the Holy Spirit on them. Give each other this blessing this month everyday:

May the Spirit and Peace of God be with you today. You can either give each other the “peace sign” or make the sign of the cross on each other.

Faith + Close: Extinguish the candle, give each other the blessing and then pray: God of life, we want to live as Easter people. Breathe on us everyday your gift of peace and love so that we may carry that out into the world. May all of creation be at peace! Amen

~BW

Childrens Sermon Lent 5B John 12:20-33 or Jeremiah 31:31-34

Scriptures: John 12:20-33 or Jeremiah 31: 31-34

Supplies: a cross magnet (this can be made by attaching a magnet to any sort of cross-but make sure it is a strong magnet!) a large plastic tray and metal nails (be sure that they are have iron in them)

Faith +Open: gather the children to the space where you hold children’s time. Ask them if they know what a magnet does. Accept all answers. Show them the cross magnet and the nails. Ask them what they think will happen if the magnet comes close to the nails. Accept all answers then show them!

Faith + Share: The nails should have stuck to the magnet (practice this one before worship!). Say: “In our Bible readings today we hear about how God loves us and wants us to be close. God calls this being God’s people and Jesus said that all people will be drawn to him. Just like this magnet “draws” the nails to it so does Jesus on the cross. Because Jesus died on the cross for us we are now as close to God as these nails are to the magnet. Does the magnet let go of the nails? NO! And God never lets go of us either! God’s love is a very strong bond!”

Faith + Blessing: today as you go back to your families I am going to make the sign of the cross on your forehead and say “God never lets you go.” So this week you can bless your family and friends with these same words! We all need to hear that God is always with us!

Faith + Close: Prayer: Dear God, we are so grateful that you never let us go! Remind us that you are with us always. We thank you for Jesus who keeps us close to you! Amen.

Additional idea: have a cross magnet for each child OR even each person/ family in your congregation.

BW 3/16/2012

Lent 4B John 3:14-21 March 18, 2012

Scripture: John 3:14-21

Preparation: Get the book Mama do you Love Me orPapa Do You Love Me by Barbara M. Joosse
**other books you could use: Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, Guess How Much I love Youby Sam McBratney

Faith+Open: Gather children to you. Today we are reminded how much God loves the world and that Jesus came not to condemn us–not to tell us all how bad we are but to save us, to make everyone children of God. Sometimes we think about God as a mom or a dad or grandparent or someone who takes care of us and shows us love even when do do things to frustrate them. Does that ever happen in your house? I have a story to share with you today to help us think about God’s love. 

Faith+Share: Read the story you have chosen. All these books use images to help explain unconditional love. You can shorten the story and pick favorite pages as well. End with summary statement and/or saying John 3: 16-17

Faith+Prayer: Jesus, you came to the world to show us that your love is high, wide, deep, long, and never ending. Hold us in your big love always. Amen

Faith+Blessing: Make sign of cross and say:
God in my head
God in my heart
God on my left
God on my right

~LB

Lent 3B John 2:13-25 March 11, 2012

Scripture: John 2: 13-25

Preparation: Pictures of the temple and a very large heart

Faith+Open: Gather children to you. Say, today in our Gospel reading Jesus goes into the temple, do you know what the temple was? Take answers and show your picture/s of the temple.

Faith+ShareThe temple was a place that people went to worship God, but it was also a place where all the rituals took place and where people could gather together. People at that time would bring animals and food and money to the temple to give to God. They needed a way to have the animals checked and a way to exchange money so they had the right kind for the temple. In order to do the rituals the best way it took a lot work. Jesus today goes into the temple and gets very angry at what is going on there. He says that the people have forgotten what it was that God meant to do by giving them a temple, a place to worship. He says that now that God is doing a new thing with Jesus. God is not just in the temple but is in Jesus and in the world. This story shows us not only that Jesus was very human and could get very angry like we get angry sometimes but that also God’s love was bigger than any temple or any building or any gift or sacrifice could ever hold. God’s love is so big that it bigger than anger and bigger than all the sins, all the things we can do wrong. So even though Jesus is angry with people in this story, Jesus is also declaring God’ love to be so very huge. 

I have here a very big heart so show God’s love. Do you think it’s even bigger than this heart? It sure is! I am going ask that all of you write your name on this heart because God’s love is big enough to hold us all. You can have children write their names during this time or tell them it will be in the back of the church or it will be out during the offering time for them to write one–whatever works best in your setting.

Faith+Prayer: Jesus, we know that you lived like we do. We know that you live in the world and that you are here with us in worship but that you are also everywhere and always with us. Help us to remember how big your love is and to share that big love with others. Amen

Faith+Blessing: Make the sign of the cross saying:
God in my head
God in my heart
God on my left
God on my right

~LB

Lent 2B Mark 8:27-38 March 4, 2012

Scripture: Mark 8:27-38

Preparations: Collect different kinds of crosses to show the children

Faith+Open: Gather the children to you. Say, I brought some crosses to show you today. There are all kinds of different crosses and different ways that we share our faith with crosses.  Take out some different crosses one at a time.  Share your different crosses, pointing out the differences. If you have one that is pretty, one that is more crude, etc. You may have crosses with different pictures or in various shapes. If you have an anchor cross, Jerusalem cross, etc. tell the children briefly what they are about.

Faith+ShareThere are many different ways that we show the cross–some really fancy and some really natural (like a wood one). One thing these crosses have in common though is what they mean. Today Jesus says to ‘take up your cross’. That is is an interesting and even difficult thing for Jesus to say. Jesus died on a cross and did have to carry his cross up the hill. But I don’t think that Jesus meant for us to carry big crosses up hills all the time. Picking up our cross is a way to think about and to act on following Jesus. Jesus doesn’t mean that all the ‘bad things’ that happen to us are crosses but instead he means that we have a way of life to follow. And when good things and when bad things happen, he promises to be there with us. 

Faith+Prayer: Jesus, you gave us the cross to help us follow you. We love you and we want to go your way. Be with us all our days and all our steps as we learn to follow you and as we remember your love. Amen.

Faith+Blessing: Make the sign of the cross saying:
God in my head
God in my heart
God on my left
God on my right

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.

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.