Here is the devotion page for Lectionary 16, Year A, July 17-23 (Click on the words!)
Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!
Here is the devotion page for Lectionary 16, Year A, July 17-23 (Click on the words!)
Did you miss a week? Go to the Weekly Devotion page to download past weeks!
Prepare: Find a few kinds of seals. They can be images, but better would be examples that the children can touch and hold like a sealed jar of jelly, a wax seal on paper, maybe your church’s seal if you have one. Also find an oil stock for baptism, or a little bowl with olive oil on a cotton ball.
Today in the Gospel we hear a story about Jesus getting baptized. Jesus is in the water, but there were no seals there. The kind of seal want to talk about isn’t an animal, and really isn’t even in the story about Jesus that we hear today!
(you could gather around your baptismal font if that is possible)
We still baptize people today, sometimes it looks a lot like what happened to Jesus, sometimes we use a bowl of water, called a font, and lots of different things in between. But there is something that we often say at baptisms that we don’t hear in the story, it is a blessing that sounds like this:
“(name), Child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever.”
Did you hear the word “sealed” in there? Yeah, really not talking about an animal! That kind of seal keeps things fresh, or secure, or shows who something belongs to. I have a few examples here – this jar is sealed to keep this jelly fresh until we want to eat it. A wax seal on an envelope show not only who it came from but also proves that it hasn’t been opened, and a seal like this one shows that this book belongs to this church. (Modify this as needed!)
So when we hear that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit in Baptism, what do you think that means? (give a little space here)
Right! Good! And when we seal people in Baptism we often use a little bit of olive oil on their forehead.
Now you get to decide what to do. Either have the children seal each other with a tiny amount of oil, repeating the words that you say, or the time to bless them all yourself. depends on how much time you have!
Invite your whole congregation to come up and remember their baptism! You can either just let them dip their hands in the water, or you can offer them oil to seal someone that they came up with. Or! Even better – ask some of the children to stay and bless people!
One warning – mess with the amount of oil you use on the cotton BEFORE you try this. it really only takes a very little bit. You don’t want oil dripping down faces!
Prepare: You will need some arbitrary way to divide people up. Something simple, like a jar with two different colored beads in it so that you can divide the group into “red” beads and “blue” beads (or whatever colors, items, etc you have). For the worship station you need a baptismal font that everyone can get to, and a sign that says, “Child of you God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever.”
Hi! How is everyone doing today? It is sooooooo good to see all of you and I am so happy that you are here. (Pick one child and start talking mostly to them.) How are you? Are you having a good weekend? (generally just making small talk – then . . . ) Hey, can I ask you what color bead you got? (It doesn’t matter what color they have, you have to immediately distrust that child!) Whoa! a red bead! Uh . . . could you move over there? Yeah, just not by me. In fact, do any of the rest of you have red beads? Really? Yeah, I need you to move over there, too. People with blue beads are fine, but NOT red beads.
Alright, now that we have the sorted let’s take a look the Bible story today. This story is part of a really long letter that we call Galatians. I just need to review it a little . . . let me see . . . the law was our discipline . . . justified by faith . . . uh huh . . . uh oh.
So, I was reading this and it says that we are all children of God. Doesn’t matter what we look like or where we are from. God loves us for who we are and we should do our best to do the same.
Part of what this means is that it doesn’t matter what labels we put on people – cool, nerd, silly, too serious – God sees us all the same, as beloved children.
I guess that means I can’t really be mean to those people over there just because they happen to have a red bead. Come back over here and let’s all pray together!
Loving God, you care for us and love no matter what we look like, where we are from, or what we like or dislike. Thank you for your unconditional love! Teach us to love and care for each other with that same unconditional love. Amen.
Invite people to come up to the font to remember that they are God’s child, too! They are welcome to make the sign of the cross on their own forehead, but even better if you can encourage them to make the sign of the cross on each other’s heads! Invite them to use the baptismal blessing that you put on the sign.
Prepare: You will need rubbing alcohol, a large sturdy pot and a smaller pot or metal bowl. Fill the large pot with water and place the bowl in so it floats. Fill the bowl with rubbing alcohol and light on fire. This fire will be protected in the pot/bowl but still visible. It will last about 5 – 10 minutes and then go out on it’s own. We recommend you practice first.
Gathering–One way is to gather at the beginning and do your children’s sermon at the beginning instead of in the middle of worship. You can light the fire with them in the back and then lead a processional to the front. Or you can gather at your normal time and have a helper who lights the fire and brings it out. Do not light it close to the children as they may lean in too close.
ooo, we have a fire today! Wow! Not just the candles are lit but there is a fire. Does anyone know what today is? yes it is the day of Pentecost. We hear the story of when the people were gathered for a festival and a great wind blew in and then flames of fire appeared. (The Jesus Storybook Bible would be a great way to tell this story by reading it)
Have you ever heard the phrase… “I feel on fire”–what does that mean? It means that there is a light a passion an excitement for something. The Holy Spirit has an excitement and a passion and a love for each of you here and for the world. The Holy Spirit is here to unite us with others, no matter how different or alike we are, and the fire is one way for us to remember to be excited about sharing God’s love and living as people who are loved by God.
sing together: Light the Fire or This Little Light of Mine
Have sheets of cardstock paper with the words “Come Holy Spirit” written on them. Have markers, crayons, or those fun dot/bingo paint markers for stamping and decorating the paper. Next roll the paper and staple it closed. Attached string with staples or with a hole punch and then tying the string to make a handle. Next, have red, orange and yellow streamers and a stapler for attaching the streamers to the bottom. Make a sample ahead of time.
Invite the children forward. Have some bread, a cup/chalice of wine, a bowl of water and some index cards. Ask the children this, “If you could say one thing to Jesus or ask him one question what would it be?” (Accept all answers and even share your own!) Say, “yes, we have lots of questions don’t we? We’ve never really seen Jesus like the disciples did, and we don’t necessarily hear Jesus’ voice (remember that you may have some mystics among you who might hear Jesus!). And sometimes I have lots of questions too and I don’t always know who to talk to about what I’m wondering about Jesus and God. (Repeat some of their questions here.) What do we do with all of those questions? (Accept all answers.) Yes, we could talk to each other! Jesus breathed on the disciples and reminds them and us that we all have the breath of God in us and share that breath everywhere we go!
Thomas missed Jesus coming and breathing on the disciples and when he came back and heard about it, he had lots of questions. Jesus doesn’t mind our questions-as a matter of fact, Jesus came to Thomas to talk to him about his! Jesus knew that he wouldn’t be able to talk to all people so that’s why Jesus told the disciples and us that we are sent out with the love of Jesus to talk about our questions and wondering together and to look for Jesus everywhere around us. We might not think that we “see” Jesus like Thomas and the other disciples saw him, but Jesus gave us ways to see how much he loves us and is with us always, in our questions, in our wondering and when we feel God’s presence. Jesus said to look for him in bread and wine: which we do every week! When we eat and drink we know that Jesus fills us with what we need to be his hands and feet in the world. In water that is found in our baptismal font, we know that Jesus says we belong to God forever, no matter what. Jesus wants everyone to know that what God really wants is to love us and be with us. Even if we wonder if God is real or what God is doing. I have some blank index cards here. You can take one back to you seat and write or draw your questions for Jesus or what you wonder about Jesus. *During our worship station time, you can place them in the basket on the table and take with you a heart to remind you that Jesus loves you now and always. (If you don’t do worship stations, have index cards in the pews for all people. Invite them to place them in the offering plate.)
Have index cards and pens on a table. Invite people to write their questions for God on them and either place them in a basket. (You could also have a large question mark on a piece of poster board hanging on a wall and people can write their questions on post-it notes to place on the question mark. The question mark could be inside a big heart.) Have heart stickers or paper hearts cut out for people to take as they leave their questions. Perhaps offer a time of wrestling with those questions in adult education, confirmation or some other forum.
Jesus, we love you and we are so glad that you love us! Thank you for hearing our questions, our wondering and our doubts. Be with us as this community grows and learns from those questions. Send us out to listen and talk with other people who also wonder about you and may we share your love and peace with them. Amen.
Gather your household. Have a candle (or everyone’s baptismal candles if you have them) and a bowl of water on a table. Light the candle (or all of them) and say: “Come Holy Spirit.” Open in prayer: Dear Jesus, through your baptism we too are named as God’s beloved children. May our lights shine in the darkness to glorify our Father in heaven. Amen.
For Children: What do we use water for in our day? (Bath, clean dishes, clothes, drink, cook, etc.) We use water all day long and we also need it for our bodies to be healthy. God uses water and words of love to tell the whole world that we belong to God now and forever. When you were baptized we splashed water on you three times (can you count to three?) and said, “In the name of the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit.” Then we lit a candle just like we did here to remember that Jesus is the light of the world and that we reflect Jesus’ light in the world too. How can you show Jesus’ love at school? At home? At soccer/ballet/piano etc.?
For Adults/youth: Do you know the story of your baptism? Or do you remember your baptism? These stories are more than just a nice memory with family, but mark the day that you parents/sponsors proclaimed that life in and with God and the people of God is important. Not just important but vital-life and death. Water has much power in our world: it can clean, erode, give life, cause death, have beauty and be destructive. God uses water to tell the story of love between God and his people from the beginning. This story is continued with Jesus. Baptism, living water, woman at the well, thirsting on the cross and water flowing from his pierced side. Water is powerful but so is God’s word, God’s story in our lives. This story begins at birth, is proclaimed through water in baptism, is nourished at the table with bread and wine and is shared with us in community.
For All: From whom did you first hear God’s story? Or who was a primary teller of the story in your life? With whom do you tell the story of God’s love? Who would you like to tell about what God is doing in your life? What difference does this story of God’s love make in your daily life?
God of living water, we find ourselves rooted in your story of love. We are part of what you are doing in the world to show everyone that they are loved, forgiven and belong to you. We pray for your kingdom to come. Amen.
Remembering God’s story! Have the Luke reading printed off in large print and on a large piece of butcher paper (you will want blank space around the words). Invite people to bring in a copy of their baptism picture to place on the banner with the reading and/or draw an image or a symbol of baptism that is meaningful to them. Other options: invite people to write/draw where they experience God’s story in their lives or a prayer for where they could share God’s story.
At home: With children: Have copies (not precious originals) of baptismal pictures. Using construction paper or plain paper, make a small story book of your baptismal day.
With adults/youth: Place a picture of your baptism or a symbol of baptism (dove, candle, sea shell) on your bathroom mirror and every morning remember that you are being made new to go and share God’s love.
Take an old water bottle, decorate it with symbols of baptism. Place it where people in the household can place their spare change each day. At the end of Epiphany (Feb. 7th) donate the change to the ELCA World Hunger. www.elca.org
Gather the children. If you have video capabilities (and the appropriate licensing), show the short clip from Toy Story where Woody sees Andy’s name on the bottom of his boot. If you don’t have the video option-tell the story from the movie. Odds are someone has seen it!
Say, “Andy had written his name on his toys not just so that other people would know that they belong to Andy but so that the toys knew that they were so special to Andy as well. Do you write your name on some of your toys or school supplies? It doesn’t mean that we don’t share our special things but we often only put our name on stuff that is special to us. Your name that your parents gave you is special because your parents gave it to you.
Say “In our reading from the letter to the people at Ephesus, Paul is telling the people how much God loves them. God loves the Ephesians so much that he gave them a special mark through the Holy Spirit. Can you guess what that mark might be? We have that symbol here in our worship space. Look around….Yes a cross! Paul reminds the people and us that God marks us with the cross of Jesus! In our baptisms the pastor, your parents, sponsors and other people may make the sign of the cross on your forehead to show the whole world that you belong to God! Just like Woody had Andy’s name on his boot, you have the cross of Christ on you! All the time! Even when you can’t see it, it is still there because God promises that you belong to God forever and always. Let’s make the sign of the cross on each other (even people in the pews!) before we pray. (*Use the blessing below.)
Dear Jesus, Thank you for making us yours and marking us with the sign of the cross. Help us to remember that all people are loved by you no matter what and that Jesus’ cross connects us to one another. May we share this specialness with the whole world. Amen.
Have a large cross available that is also accessible. Have smaller pieces of paper in the shape of crosses available. Invite people to write their names on the cross and then tape the cross that bears their name on the bigger cross. Also, have the baptismal font available and someone to offer a blessing with water and to make the sign of the cross on people’s foreheads. Have the blessing on strips of paper for people to take home for the week.
Have a piece of chart paper available that you can write on or have the children write on. Have the paper divided into threes (maybe make a peace sign). Ask: “What do you know about God who creates or makes stuff?” Write or have an older child write the answers. “What do you know about Jesus?” Again, write all answers. “What do you know about the Holy Spirit?” Write all answers. Say: “Wow! You know quite a bit! Do you think that this is all that there is to know about God? Who do you think knows EVERYTHING about God? (Yes some child will say “GOD!” Go with it!) It’s really hard for us to know everything about God isn’t it? We try and explain how God is creator, Jesus who died for us and the Holy Spirit who we talked about last week as wind, breath, or fire. (Or insert however you discussed the HS last week on Pentecost Sunday.) But we just don’t quite know everything do we?
In our Bible story this morning we read about a really smart guy named Nicodemus or Nic for short. He knew all kinds of stuff about the Bible, God, rules, and special religious holidays. He didn’t know a lot about Jesus and so he went to talk to him at night so that no one else would know that Nic had questions, there was stuff that even he didn’t understand. Have you ever had something that you didn’t understand, maybe at school? Did you go and talk to someone? Yes? Good! Nic did a great thing by talking to Jesus. Jesus told Nic some things that he didn’t know and it was confusing! But Jesus said to him, you can’t know everything! Only God does! God comes to you with love and healing and that is the most important thing to know! There will always be stuff about God you don’t understand-everything that we wrote on this paper is not everything about God, right? But all we need to know is that God loves us very much, always will no matter what, and always is with us. That’s it! Simple but still hard, huh? Yeah, even for me and other adults we don’t quite get it, but we get to try and just live in God’s love and share it with people every single day. How can you show your love for people and God’s whole world? (Accept all answers.) Great ideas! During Worship Station time, you can take a red construction paper heart, write Creator, Jesus, and Holy Spirit on the three “points” if you will of the heart (see better description below). Then write your own name in the middle of the heart to remind you that you are part of God’s love in the world. Decorate it however you want and take it home! Make some to share (with friend’s or family members names on it)!
Dear God Creator, Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit our Breath, we love you and we are grateful that you love us always. You make us your own and bring us to live into your love for the whole world. You make us new each day and you are at work bringing healing and wholeness all around us. We pray to be a part of your love and wholeness in the world. Amen.
Have red construction paper hearts (fairly good size-about 4 ½ X 5 ½), markers, heart stickers and anything else you would like to decorate the hearts. Have a sample made where at the top of the two rounded parts of the heart one side says “Creator” (or “Father” “Mother” depending upon your tradition), and the other “Jesus.” Have the words “Holy Spirit” written on the point of the bottom of the heart. Encourage people to write their own name on the center of the heart and/or write ways to share the love of God with the world. They can take them home or tape them on a cross.
Preparation: Have a piece of red, orange or yellow ribbon (15” by 1” or so) for each member of the congregation. Have a tall dowel about four feet long for the ribbons to be tied on. You will also need an oscillating fan. (A static fan could work too.)
Have some ribbons attached to a fan (clear tape for easy removal). Turn the fan on and let the ribbons blow for a minute. Then remove the ribbons and let them blow wherever the fan takes them. Say, “Wow, those ribbons just took off one they weren’t taped down anymore didn’t they? Look at all of the places that the fan blew the ribbons! Can you all help me collect them? Thank you!” The children can hold on to the ribbons that they collect but make sure that each child has one. Say, “You go to many different places in your week don’t you. Where are some places you go during the week?” (Accept all answers.) Do you remember where you were on Wednesday afternoon? Where were you or where to you think you might have been? We go to all kinds of different places in our daily lives and do you want to know something? God is at all of those places with us! Everywhere you go, God is already there! Today at church we are celebrating that God is with us and that everywhere we go God is there at work. God’s Holy Spirit is what we think of as God being at work in the world and in our Bible story this morning we see that the Holy Spirit is experienced in many different ways! Wind, fire, people talking in different languages, all of these ways remind us that the Holy Spirit can be experienced in lots of ways and places! No one way is the only way and there is not just one place to feel God’s love and power in our lives. Just like these ribbons didn’t all blow to the exact same location so we aren’t all at the same place at the same time. God is at work wherever we are!
Worship station: Everyone will get a ribbon. On the ribbon write/draw where you were on Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. (Or pick another date and time if you want!) Have everyone tie their ribbon to the dowel. During the last part of worship have someone place the dowel at the exit to the parking lot (hopefully it will just stick in the ground or you might need to attach it to something) to remind us all that as we go to our daily lives the Holy Spirit is blowing us there and is with us at work!
Dear God, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to be with us always. May we be a part of what you are doing in the world no matter where we are or what time of day it is. May everyone feel your work and love in their lives. Amen.
In the story about Nicodemus and Jesus in John, Jesus is explaining to Nicodemus that God’s love is everywhere and God works in the world in many and mysterious ways. An example that Jesus uses is that the “spirit blows where it wants.” God’s love and grace goes all kinds of unpredictable ways!
I have this fan here with paper shaped like hearts. Where do you think these hearts will go when we turn the fan on? (Alternatively, you could give the kids small hearts of tissue paper and have them blow them around. Just as unpredictable. J ) Turn on the fan and have the pieces of paper blow around for a bit. Turn off the fan and say: “Look at where all of these pieces of paper went! I never would have thought that they would blow to all of these places!” (Point out some specific places and maybe people the paper blew to.) “God’s love is just like that! God’s love goes everywhere to everyone! Can we help to move God’s love around the world like wind? Yes! What are some ways we can do that?” (Accept all answers.) Those are all good ways! Take one of these hearts with you and take some extras to give away!
Open Space Worship Station suggestion: If you do Open Space or worship stations have a table covered with butcher paper and the words “Where God’s Spirit Moves.” Have magazines, crayons, markers, tape and glue sticks available. Ask people to cut out of the magazines or draw where they see God’s work and love in the world. Hang the mural in your worship space and add to it in the coming weeks in Lent.