Tag Archives: God’s presence

It Never Ends #itsagoodthing #itsaGodthing John 6: 1-21 Pentecost 9B July 26, 2015

*This sermon was preached by Pastor Brigette Weier at Lord of the Hills Lutheran Church in Centennial, CO on July 26th, the first week of the John 6 “Bread of Life” series. For more sermons go to www.alutheransayswhat.wordpress.com


One of the principles of teaching, especially younger children, is repetition, repetition, repetition. When I was a director of a preschool, I had some parents who wanted their children to come five mornings a week, which was fine, I was clear that the curriculum would be the same. They often then said, “oh maybe my child will get bored.” But those of us who have spent any time around young children know that they will want you to read the same book over and over, play the same game with them over and over, sing the same songs over and over, and watch the same video over and over.  So we patiently (mostly!) reread the books to them, replay the games, and yes tolerate the same song or video over and over. If you’re lucky, you’ll like some of these activities too! Repetition is how our brains gain mastery over a skill or a concept. Now repetition is not necessarily the exact same thing over and over all the time. It can also be variations on a theme that broaden and deepen our mastery of a skill, or even expand our knowledge within that skill set.

I am a violinist and the old joke of “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!” is correct! I would practice scales, then etudes based on the scales, then I could play harder and harder pieces that the scales and etudes I had practiced hours and hours prepared me for. All of the hours spent in a practice room, often came along with me in daily life. I would hum the pieces, listen to them on tapes (!) and of course the music would get stuck in my head! As a music major, I lived, breathed and ate music. If you want to get good at something, you need to do it over and over, learning nuances of the skill, until it becomes second nature and part of who you are. Young brains are not the only brains that benefit from repetition for mastery of a skill, those of us who are “a bit older” benefit as well; the more that we see or do something, the better, the more it sticks with us. Professionals in any field will tell you that they have to keep practicing; they have completely immersed themselves in their craft.

This fact is one that has been true from the beginning of creation. The Bible is God’s story of meeting humanity over and over with God’s words and signs of love and reconciliation. God rescuing the Israelites through the Red Sea, God sustaining them in the desert with manna, God giving boundaries for living as community,  God revealing God’s work through prophets, God being present in all times and in all places, in exile, in restoration, in the rebuilding of the temple. God tells us the story, sings us the songs and reveals signs of God’s presence over and over and over. God created us to need repetition, to see and hear the story from all of these different experiences. God reveals what God is up to in so many different ways, including revealing Godself in the earthy, fleshy, and tangible Jesus, who walked in our midst as another repetition of God’s love for the whole world.

We have this story that we have heard over and over of Jesus feeding large crowds of people. It is repeated in every gospel. We know it well. It would be simple to reduce our John story today to be about feeding the hungry, proclaiming God’s generosity and abundance in the witness of our human tendency for scarcity, fear of what we don’t understand or Jesus who offers us miracles of God’ power.  This witness from John is also those things and those are important concepts to consider: We have enough, God provides and so share! But I figured you might already know that and would want more than an eight word sermon.

Here is what the true miracle is about with these two seemingly unconnected stories of bread, fish and water: God through Jesus is singing to us again a song in a different key, so that we might see and hear again, God’s work of love and reconciliation in the world. The writer of John begins this story with the reminder of all of the signs that Jesus has already shown the people. In the signs, Jesus is revealing to the disciples and to the crowds,  that once again that God is doing a new piece based on an old scale. Our 2 Kings reading this morning is an echo of Jesus feeding the people on the grass, with the question of “Is there enough for all?” and the resounding response from God of “Yes!” ringing in our ears. God never gives up on breaking into our ever day lives with abundant love.

This story is one witness of our need to practice gratitude for God’s presence and generosity, to practice being part of a larger crowd, to practice knowing that nothing is simply a left over, everything has value and is not wasted in God’s kingdom, to practice waiting for Jesus and not ditching him (does that bother anyone else?),  to practice remembering that Jesus comes to us no matter where we are, and to practice not being afraid. Like the disciples, no matter how much we see God, experience God and encounter God, we forget and rely on our own abilities, what we think we have or don’t have and we think that we can just leave Jesus somewhere on the shore while we head out to sea.

We gather together each Sunday to practice all of these things-and they are a lot! We practice being in community, praying, abundance, generosity, gratitude, hearing the story and being in Christ’s presence. We practice in this space, it’s like our practice room, so that we when we leave, prayer, generosity, hospitality, love, abundance and the story of God’s work in and through Jesus Christ, is second nature and is a little more stuck in our heads, in our hearts and in our actions.

Each time we practice, we hear the story a new way, we encounter Christ in bread, wine, in water, or in the word, we immerse ourselves in the life and love of Christ and this love from God  is part of who we are and can’t help but to spill out into the whole world. This week we will host and invite the community and families into our practicing of love, generosity, abundance and gratitude through VBS.  The worry of enough room will give way to laughter and close bonds shared, worry of enough snacks will give way to leftovers, fear of things not going just as planned will give way to Jesus coming to us and saying “It is I. Don’t be afraid!”   We will all encounter Christ in yet another way that will add to our understanding, we will repeat the stories, the songs and the love of God being revealed in our midst. We will tell the story to one another of God’s abundance, love and how God calls us to immerse ourselves everyday with the practices of repetition of prayers, gratitude, love and generosity of all that God has first given us.

God repeats those themes in us and promises to reveal over and over how we are forgiven, we are loved and how we are sent to share over and over with the whole world that there is enough, there are leftovers-always room for more-and God is with us in every time and in every place. God promises to immerse us with signs of love, generosity, grace and hope today, tomorrow and forever.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll never be bored with the repetition of that story. Amen.

The Peace of the Lord Faith + Home Connection April 2015 John 20: 19-31

20130715-113716.jpg Trace your hands on paper. Write or draw who was the hands of Christ to you today and who you shared Christ with today. Save these for your closing prayer time.

20130822-223633.jpgRead John 20: 19-31 from a Bible or page 492-495. Have people read the different voices in the story.

For children: When was a time that you were afraid? Who was with you? Did having someone with you make you feel better? If you were alone, who did you wish was with you? Did you know that God is with you always? Even if we’re afraid, alone, worried or feeling bad. Jesus promises to be with us always just like he came to be with Thomas and to tell Thomas that he would never leave him!

For youth/adults: What does it mean to be at peace? When have you felt at peace? How can we share this peace that comes from God with others? Is it words, actions, attitudes?
Doubt is not the opposite of faith. Jesus met Thomas in his “doubt,” his wondering, his questions so that Thomas could grow in faith. Our faith is like that too-a journey. When we wonder or question, we explore God in our lives, define and articulate more clearly what we do believe and are able to share that with others. Doubt is how we deepen our faith! What do you wonder about God?

FaithCross_ServeALT Write a note to someone telling and thanking them for the ways that they showed Christ to you in your life. Think of one way to show the love and peace of Christ to someone at work, school or other places.

20130822-224425.jpg You give us your peace to spread that peace all through your world. You reveal Christ to us in so many ways and we know that we are called to be part of that revelation. Be with those who are in distress, who are lonely, who are worried or afraid. May we be your peace to them. In the name of you son Jesus, who is with us always, amen.

20130822-223908.jpg +Receive the Peace of the Lord+


Children’s Sermon Genesis 9: 8-17 Mark 1: 9-15 February 22nd

20130822-223520.jpg Ask the children (and the congregation!) “Have you ever had a bad day? A day when just nothing went right, or something bad happened that day and you were very sad and even mad? We all have those days, it’s part of our lives. Some days are really happy and joyful and some days make us cry or mad. When you are having a good day, how do you act or who do you talk to? What kind of words do you use to tell people you are having a good day? How about when you have a bad day? Who do you talk to, how do you act? Do bad days make you feel more alone? Maybe you have a harder time talking to people when you’re sad? I know that I do! When I’m happy, I tell people about my good day, the fun stuff I’m doing I usually have a fun Facebook or Twitter post, but when I’m sad or angry, I don’t want to talk to people, I kinda sit in my house on my couch all by myself and feel all alone. But sometimes when I’m sad people reach out to me and tell me that they love me and remind me that I am not alone.

20130822-223633.jpg The Bible is full of stories about people having both good and bad days, easy days and hard days. Today we read the end of the Noah’s ark story about many hard days of Noah and his family being cooped up on a boat with lots of stinky animals and the world being flooded. God knows that those were hard days for Noah and his family (and the animals!) and God was with Noah and his family even if Noah didn’t see God directly. But God said that God would put a rainbow in the clouds to show Noah and all of us that even if days look rainy, sad and hard, God is with us always, especially when it’s hard. And it’s not just in the Noah’s Ark story, we read it in the story about Jesus this morning too! Jesus is baptized, that’s a good day, right? But then Jesus goes out into the wilderness for 40 hard days. BUT we read that God’s Holy Spirit is with Jesus-when it’s a joyful time, such as at his baptism, or a hard time like being in the wilderness. Jesus was not alone, not ever. God even sent messengers, angels, to be with Jesus. God also puts messengers in our lives to tell us about God’s love for us and we can also be messengers to tell people whether they are happy or sad, that God loves them and is with them, even if they don’t know it or see it. How can we be messengers for God? What can we tell people about God’s love for all people, even if they are sad or had something hard happen to them? (Accept all answers)

20130822-223749.jpg God, we are grateful that you are with us always; when we’re happy or sad, feeling joyful or feeling alone. We want all of you people to know that they are never alone and are loved by you. Give us words to be your messengers of love always. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship We are all messengers of God’s love wherever we go. For this worship station have small cards (preferably with rainbows on them!), pens, markers and rainbow stickers available. During your open space or worship station time, invite all gathered to write a message of God’s presence and love to someone who needs to hear it that day. Encourage them to take as many as they need to distribute them to their friends, or neighbors. Young children can take stickers to give to friends and to remind themselves as well. Throughout the week encourage emails, cards, social media posts to remind people of God’s presence in all of lives and in the world.

20130822-223908.jpg +The good news is the God is always near you+

Ash Wednesday with Children and Families

ffjChildrenSermon*This resource can be used in the home or in a worship setting where young children and families are present. The focus is on the fact that we all need to say that we are sorry and most importantly, hear that God loves and forgives us each and every day. The sign of the cross is a reminder that nothing separates us from God and that our whole lives are about pointing to God and sharing this love and forgiveness with the world.

Supplies: purple paper available for all cut into four (use 8 ½ by 11 inch paper, black chalk or ashes available, baby wipes, writing instruments, crayons, markers (*You may want to have Isaiah 58:9 printed on the back of the purple sheets.)

FaithCross_ConnectALT Read Psalm 51: 1-3. Explain to young children that David wrote this psalm knowing that he had hurt someone else and not been fair. He felt bad and was talking to God telling God that he had messed up. Remind all present that WE ALL mess up, it’s part of being a person. Have them all think of something that they are sorry about or how they messed up. Ash Wednesday is a day in the church that we specifically remember that we all mess up (we do this every Sunday with confession and forgiveness as well) and Lent is a season that we hear stories about how Jesus came to tell us that God loves and forgives us. We remember the story of Jesus being killed, which is sad and scary but we know that happens in life. God tell us even in scary things God is there no matter what. They can write or draw something that they are sorry for on the purple paper. Have families or small groups share if they are comfortable. Then gather them back to the large group.

FaithCross_BibleALT Start the conversation: “Today we are talking about how it’s important that we talk to God about everything-even stuff that we are afraid or ashamed to talk about with God because we know that it doesn’t make us look very good. BUT God says that we are very good no matter what! What’s hard for us is that we have to each and every day look to God and treat others how God treats us. How does God treat us? (Accept all answers) Yes, God treats everyone with love and care. God sent Jesus to show us that love and care and in a book of the Bible called Isaiah 58: 9 we read: “Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, “Here I am.” (If you desire, have this verse printed on the back side of the purple sheets) This is what Ash Wednesday and Lent is all about. God said in Jesus, “here I am” to the whole world. The cross where Jesus died is also God saying “here I am!” in sad and scary places in our lives. We put a cross on our heads today because God says “here I am!” you to today and always.” Have those gathered use the ashes or the chalk to put a big cross over all of the things that they wrote or drew that they are sorry for. God says “here I am!” to forgive them and love them.

FaithCross_PrayALTPray a prayer of forgiveness for what they are sorry for. They can use their purple sheets as a guide if desired or just a general prayer could also work.

FaithCross_BlessALTYou can have them put ashes on each other’s foreheads or hands and say +remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. God says “here I am” in the ashes+ (Explain that wearing ashes on our foreheads in public tells the world that God says “here I am” to everyone!)

FaithCross_ServeALT Isaiah 58: 1-12 speaks about justice and how God not only meets us but sends us to share the good news of justice and peace for all to the whole world. Choose a partnership with a food justice, housing justice, peace organization, or highlight a partnership your congregation already has for the season of Lent with Isaiah 58: 6-10 as you Lenten focus.



Children’s Sermon, Matthew 16: 21-28, August 31st, 2014, Year A, Pentecost 12

20130822-222604.jpg Have a musical instrument that you don’t know how to play or a hand held game of some sort. As you invite the children forward be attempting to play the instrument or game. Talk about how hard it is to learn and maybe you should just give up. Maybe it’s not worth it or important if it’s hard. It would be easier to put a song on and just pretend to play or to only do what you know. What would be the easy way out?

Ask the children about something at school, or learning something that is hard. What is it that makes it hard? When was a time that you did something hard but then found out that you learned, or it became important in some way? (Accept all answers). Say, “yes, we all have hard things that we have to do sometimes.”

20130822-223633.jpg Today Peter and Jesus are talking about hard things. Jesus says that he is going to die but be raised again. Death is a VERY hard thing isn’t it? If your friend told you that they were going to die, you would say what Peter said, “No that can’t be true!” But Jesus told Peter that this very hard thing that Jesus was going to do is the exact thing that needed to happen for something better-God raising Jesus from the dead would proclaim to the whole world that nothing separates us from God-not even death! Jesus would take this hard and sad thing and point to the promises of God to be with us always and to love us always. The cross is a very hard thing, in Jesus’ time it was about death. We have crosses all around us here in church, we wear necklaces or bracelets with crosses to remind us that Jesus is with us in the very hard things and will never leave us. God’s love is there when things are easy and when things are hard like: (school, fighting with friends or siblings, death, etc.) That is that is the promise from God and so the cross tells us of that promise. Jesus doesn’t want us to keep that promise to ourselves, even when it might be hard or scary to share God’s love. How can we share God’s love in the midst of hard times with our family or friends?

20130822-224425.jpg God, you promise to be with us always. When things are hard or easy, you are there. When we feel alone or happy, you are there. Thank you for sending Jesus to show us your love and mercy. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship For a worship station around this fairly difficult text you can have some cross necklaces (kits are at craft stores) for the children (of all ages!) to make. Have some cardstock with cross foam stickers and cross templates for tracing to make cards to hand out to people who need to be reminded that God is with them in hard times. Take them to a rehab facility or a hospital.

20130822-223908.jpg +Jesus is with you always+