See God’s Love With Us! Matthew 1: 18-25, Advent 4 Year A, December 18, 2016

 Have a crèche or the nativity scene where the children can gather around. If you already have the baby Jesus in the manger in your congregation, have the baby removed for this message. Ask the children “what’s missing from our scene?” Hopefully they will say Jesus! Say, “Jesus isn’t in the manger yet, as we celebrate his birthday next week. We have been waiting these last four weeks to finally see the baby Jesus, haven’t we? It’s hard to wait and it’s hard to know what we can’t see. We keep looking for baby Jesus, don’t we!”
 Our story today is about Jesus being born and that finally, Mary and Joseph saw baby Jesus! Have seen a new baby? They are very tiny and everyone is very excited about them aren’t they? Moms, dads, brothers and sisters have waited to see what this new baby will look like and it can feel like someone is missing. And when the baby is born, it’s almost like the baby has always been with us because we immediately love them . When we love someone, it feels that we have always loved them. This is what God wants us to know and so had Jesus come as a baby. When Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and Wise men looked at Jesus, they were looking at God’s love! When we look at each other we are also looking at God’s love! God has always loved us and will always love us. God wants us to see this love and to know that this love is forever. In sending Jesus as a baby, God says that love is never missing from our lives, Jesus and his love is always with us. This love is with you, and you, and you and you and everyone here, and everyone not here. Jesus tells us that when we love other people with kind words and actions, that we are showing people Jesus’ love for everyone to see! Let’s put the baby Jesus in the manger to remind us of this love and sing “Jesus Loves Me.”

Have the phrase “See God’s Love With Us.” printed out with each letter of the phrase printed on a separate sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper. Hang the letters up so that it reads as the phrase and have pens, markers, etc. available. Invite people to write words of where they see God’s love and action in the world that begin with each letter of the phrase “See God’s Love With Us.” (You can also have more than one phrase/word.)

Dear Jesus, you came to the world as God’s own love to be with us. Your love never leaves us and is always with us. May we not be afraid to share this love so that evryone sees you and your love! Amen

 +God’s love is with us+

Children’s Sermon for Christmas Eve/Day – Luke 2:1-20

Prepare: You don’t need much for the children’s sermon.  You can, if you want, have some small gift for the children.  I would suggest a small star or small sheep if you want to do that.  The only other thing that might help is a familiarity with the Christmas song “Do You Hear what I Hear?”

 As the children gather ask them  if they know the Christmas story. If they do, ask them what their favorite part of the story is.  If you have a tight schedule you might want to skip this, but it is a chance to hear where they are with the story and it might change how you do the next part!

 Well, I have a story about the Christmas story. I think that most of us know the Christmas story, but did you ever think about how that story got to us?   I was thinking about that because I was listening to a song called “Do You Hear What I Hear?” The song starts with the wind whispering to a lamb, the lamb tells the shepherd, the shepherd tells the king and the king tells everyone!  The message is that Christ is born!

As I was listening to the song I started thinking about the story of Jesus, and I realized that the song is probably not that far off.   OK, OK, in the actual story there isn’t a talking sheep, but think about the story that we hear at Christmas.  Mary and Joseph know what’s going on because an angel told them – that’s kind of like the wind whispering to you.  The angels also told the shepherds who came to see.  Later on there were thee wise men, or maybe kings who heard about Jesus somehow and came following the light of a star!

So there is just this handful of people who know what is really happening in that little stable in Bethlehem, and they all manage to keep it quiet for a long time. We don’t really hear much about Jesus as a child, but then Jesus’ story gets really interesting! More people hear about Jesus as a teacher and healer, they tell their friends and neighbors, who tell their friends and neighbors.  The word of God spreads far and wide, churches spring up in the far corners of the world, books are written, songs are written, there are paintings and sculptures made, plays are performed, people are feed, baptized, blessed with God’s Word all over the word and throughout the centuries of time.

And it all started with an angel telling people to “Come and see.”

So, this Christmas, I encourage you to invite some one to come and see. It doesn’t have to be today, or tomorrow, or even this month.  But be like those angels and shepherds, the friends and neighbors – invite someone to “come and see!”

 Emmanuel, God with us, thank you for coming to us. For coming to us as a baby at Christmas, as a healer when we are sick, as a teacher when we are struggling, as a savior when we are lost. Give us the courage to tell the story, and to invite people to come and see! Amen.

 May God’s peace go with you

 A game of blessing telephone!  Start with two children.  Give them each a blessing and ask them to go bless two other people. Each person then blesses two more, etc.  Give it a little time to spread through the whole congregation!

You can use the blessing above, encourage people to make the sign of the cross on foreheads or on hands as they bless.

Weekly Household Devotion Page for Advent 4

Here is the devotion page for Advent 4 – year A. (Click on the words!)

New (church) Year – new format!  One of the changes that we are making is we are leaving the date off the inserts.  So, perhaps, in the future there could be some options for which style of inserts you like in your congregation!

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

Children’s Sermon for Advent 3, Year A, Matthew 11:2-11 December 11, 2016

Preparation: a helper, a letter, your phone if you want to text

20130822-223520.jpgGather the children with you. Have your helper deliver you a message in an envelope before you get started. Say, “oh, hello, this is for me? wow!  A letter! A message in a letter!” Open the letter and read the scripture “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
That is the last part of the scripture we just heard for today. Jesus is sending a message!

20130822-223633.jpg“What kind of message do you think he is sending?” Take answers. Have your helper whisper to you that the words say messenger, not message. “oh, it says messenger, not message. Hmmmm… Well what’s the difference? Let’s see, how do you get messages today? Do you get letters in the mail? What about phone calls? or texts? or snapchats? There are a lot of way to get messages to people now. I know when Jesus was on earth with people, there were not as many ways to get messages to people. There were letters that were delivered by people, but also there were messengers who went ahead to let people know what was going on. John was telling people about Jesus before Jesus was even in town with them. Jesus is telling the followers that yes, John’s messages are about him and yes that they should listen to John.”

“Do you know who else are messengers in the Bible? Angels, the word for angel means messenger. There were many angels in the Christmas story telling people about Jesus–can you think of any? Yes, Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. Messengers are a part of how we share good news and bad news and are apart of how we tell the story of Jesus. Most of the stories of Jesus we have are ones that were told over and over before they were written down. And the stories that we have about God in our lives are good ones to send messages about–either by telling, or writing texts, or letters. you know I have a friend who texts me prayers, and I just love getting that message and that connection with God! What are some ways you can be a messenger? Who would you like to send a message to?”

You can either hand out cards or paper as a way for them to write messages now or encourage them to do that at home. You could also compose a text together and send it to someone right there!

20130822-224425.jpgGod of light and love, Thank you for your messages and your messengers. Help us to give messages to others about you. Amen

20130822-223908.jpgMay your light shine even as Jesus shines in you

 

 

FaithCross_WorshipHave cards for people to write a message to someone. Or write the best message about God they have heard. Or give some sample text prayers for people to take a picture of our write on their own.

Weekly Devotion Page for Advent 3 – Year A

Here is the devotion page for Advent 3 – year A. (Click on the words!)

New (church) Year – new format!  One of the changes that we are making is we are leaving the date off the inserts.  So, perhaps, in the future there could be some options for which style of inserts you like in your congregation!

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

Children’s Sermon for Advent 2, Year C – Matthew 3:1-12

Prepare:  You will need to create an “obstacle course” of some kind.  If you have a place to make an actual course go ahead!  If not, you can just come up with a wondering or difficult route to get to the children’s sermon place.  Maybe make a few cards that have instructions for how to move, like hop on one foot, crawl, crab-walk, etc.  You will probably want to gather the children in a different place than usual, so that you can travel a little.

20130822-223454.jpg As the children gather, tell them that you are going to be traveling across the sanctuary to the place they can hear about the story.  Tell them that the journey is to “prepare” them, because the story says to prepare the way of the Lord! And that the rest of the story is waiting for them when they get there. Then go ahead and travel by what every way you have come up with.

20130822-223633.jpg Finally here!  That was a tough trip just to go across the room.  Now, the rest of the story!  We heard that we are supposed to prepare the way of the Lord, and Jesus seems like a complex guy, so I came up with a complex way to get here.  Let’s see if I did it right!

The story says, “Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.” 

Straight?  uh oh.  Our path was not straight! Sometimes we do that same thing to Jesus.  We say that we are all set to let Jesus in, but we put up road blocks, and make Jesus do funny walks just to prove that he really wants to be part of our lives.  But in Advent – as we prepare for Christmas – we are told to clean out all the road blocks, to get rid of the rules and restrictions of what Jesus can and cannot do, and make Jesus’ path straight and easy.

We are called on to do some work!

20130822-223749.jpg Loving God, we thank you for sending us your Son, Jesus. We are trying hard to make a straight path for Jesus, but sometimes it’s really hard to do.  Give us courage to keep working, and thank you for sending Jesus, even when we are not ready and the path is not straight. Amen.

20130822-223908.jpg God finds you even on the crooked path!

FaithCross_Worship Find something that you congregation is working on – like a long-term service relationship in the community, or having supplies on hand for people in need – and create a list of “road blocks” to getting that done.  Put the list up somewhere in the worship space, or include it in the printed materials. Start a discussion about how to move forward.  What can be done to get the blocks out of the way and move on with the project?

Weekly Household Devotions for Advent 2, Year A

Here is the devotion page for Advent 2 – year A. (Click on the words!)

New (church) Year – new format!  One of the changes that we are making is we are leaving the date off the inserts.  So, perhaps, in the future there could be some options for which style of inserts you like in your congregation!

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

Weekly Devotion Page for Advent 1- Year A

Here is the devotion page for Advent 1 – year A. (Click on the words!)

New (church) Year – new format!  One of the changes that we are making is we are leaving the date off the inserts.  So, perhaps, in the future there could be some options for which style of inserts you like in your congregation!

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

Children’s Sermon Christ the King Year C Luke 23:33-43 November 20, 2016

Preparation: For the children’s sermon you will need a regular wall calendar and a liturgical calendar–a larger size will be helpful. For the worship station or to hand out at children’s sermon if you choose you will need liturgical calendars, preferable not colored in, and copied on regular sized paper.

20130822-223520.jpgGather the children up front with you and show them your regular calendar. “Ask, what is this? Yes, it is a calendar. It shows us in straight lines what days are coming next, which ones have past and what we can see coming in the future. What are some things you know are coming on the calendar” (point out Thanksgiving, Christmas, maybe have other church saint days or festivals on there too, anything that might be important to your context)

20130822-223633.jpgI brought another calendar with me as well. Show them your circle, liturgical calendar. What is different about this one? Yes, it goes in a circle. And it tells a story about our life with Jesus. Point out the different seasons in the circle. Then explain where we are now–on the edge of the end of one year and the beginning of the next:  “In the bible reading today we heard the story of Jesus on the cross, being made fun of really and crowned the king. And it is the story of how he died and the promise that God is with us in life and death. And next week you will start to hear the stories of Jesus being born–how God came to be with us in life and death. So it goes in a circle, our story with Jesus. It does not have an end and it is not a straight line because God is with us in our stories and experiences of life that start with birth, give us life, and remain with us in death. And the story of God keeps going like a circle, with no end. This is why the church calendar goes in a circle too, to help us remember these promises of God.”

20130822-224425.jpgNever ending God, thank you for your story that keeps going. Thank you for your love that is with us and keeps going. Show us how to follow Jesus in all the days of our calendars and all the days of lives. Amen

20130822-223908.jpgMay you know God’s circle of love and never ending life +

 

FaithCross_WorshipPrint out individual liturgical calendars and use a color code to have people color in their own calendar to take home. If you google liturgical calendar images there are many choices, some free, some you need to pay a small download fee. You cans also draw a circle and make into sections and label yourself!

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.