Children’s Sermon Mark 13: 24-37 Advent 1 Nov. 30th, 2014

Preparation: Have an alarm clock  or your smart phone with an obvious alarm set like you would have to wake up in the morning.

20130822-223520.jpg Have your alarm go off slightly before the Children’s time. (Warn whomever is involved in worship what is happening!) When the alarm goes off, excitedly and hurriedly gather the children together. Say “Is everyone awake and ready? Oh good! Here we go!” Don’t say ready for what or where you are going. They will be confused. It’s ok! Just keep asking if they are ready.

20130822-223633.jpg Say “Do you know what you are supposed to be ready for?  (They might say Christmas! Go with it if they do!) You don’t? Yeah sometimes me neither! I know that when I hear my alarm go off every morning, I’m supposed to get up and “be ready for the day.”  But I don’t always know what the day will be or exactly what I will do. What are some things that you do to be ready for your day at school, or daycare or with mom or dad at home? We get our books, coats, notebooks, pencils, etc. together. We make our lunch and make sure we have all of the stuff we will need for our day. We get prepared and we think through our day and who we will be with. We think about all of the important people and activities in our day.

Right now we’re getting ready for Christmas, aren’t we? While everyone in the world is already celebrating Christmas, in the church we are in the season called Advent, which means ‘to wait.’ We get ready by waiting, sort of like how you rush around in the morning getting ready for school and then maybe have to wait on the bus at the bus stop or have to wait in the car at the school for your turn to the drop off zone. In the church we’re waiting to celebrate Jesus’ birth, that God,  in Jesus, came to be with us. God wants to be with us and wants everyone to know about her love.

In today’s Bible story, Jesus is telling his disciples to be ready for when Jesus comes back. We know that Jesus is with us always but we don’t see Jesus right now. We see Jesus’  love in people around us but not actually Jesus. Kind of like how we know that our moms and dads aren’t with us all day but we know they will come and pick us up from school or daycare, Jesus promises that he will come again to be physically, actually with us someday. But we have to be  ready and wait and it’s not a scary thing, it will be a joyful, happy time, like being picked up from school or daycare. Just like we get ready for our day thinking about all of the places we will go and all of the people we will see, Jesus wants us to think about how we can tell people about God everyday too. Jesus tells us that waking up everyday means we can share God’s love everywhere we go! Just waking up each morning is like an alarm reminder that Jesus is with us and to tell someone about Jesus!


20130822-223749.jpg Jesus, thank you for being with us always. We will tell everyone we meet about you and your love for the world. Thank you that we are always in your love and for all of the people in our lives who love us. Amen.

FaithCross_Worship Encourage people to set an alarm on their smart phones for a couple of times during the week to go off to remind them that Jesus is with them and to share the love of Jesus with someone else. Perhaps have everyone set an alarm for the same time so that as a congregation they will be sharing the love of Jesus together.

Have some branches (either real or made by straightening a wire clothes hanger and covered with brown paper) with some paper Christmas ornaments (simple-made from construction paper) and have markers available to write or draw on the ornaments how you know that Jesus is near you in your day or how you share with someone else that Jesus is with them. Attach the ornaments to the branch and hang the branches in your worship space. Or you can hang the “ornaments” on the Christmas tree in your worship space if you have one up.


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




2014-11-17 08.36.06Did you know that Easter lilies bloom in the fall? The only reason that they bloom at Easter time is because we put them in hot houses and fool them into thinking that it’s summer in the middle of winter.

Last Easter at First Lutheran Church, we had our usual Easter lily garden. In recent years there have been fewer plants, but it is still an impressive sight. Most the lilies are taken home by the people who brought them for the worship services, but every year there are three or four that are left at the church. This past year those three or four plants were replanted in the courtyard as part of the flower beds there.

Within a few weeks all of the lily plants looked like they were going to die, and in fact, they did all die! Turned brown, fell over, looked dead – but then they all came back! They grew new leaves, fresh green stalks and after a few months even started growing blooms again. We figured that nothing would come of it, it was, after all, late in September before the buds started and we usually get at least one really hard freeze in Colorado in the beginning of October.

The freeze never came. The warm fall weather never broke and the buds kept developing. It was into November and the highs were still in the 60s or even 70s and the buds were growing bigger by the day. Then, on November 10 the weather changed. The temperature fell nearly 20 degrees in about 2 hours, and the snow was coming. The weather changed from highs in the 70s to lows below zero in a day, and there was no way that the lilies would survive outside, so we cut the stalks and brought the buds inside. We put them in water and waited.

One opened, then another, then two more! Four Easter lilies were blooming – almost 2 weeks after being cut from the plants, after living through an amazingly warm fall in northern Colorado, after dying the early heat of summer and growing new green, after blooming in time for Easter Sunday – and they were blooming on Christ the King Sunday.

Christ the King Sunday is, in my experience, the least noticed Festival of Christ Sundays. We all know the big two, Christmas and Easter. Many people also know the Baptism of Our Lord (near Epiphany), and many people also talk about their “mountain top” experiences on Transfiguration. Christ the King, though, always seems to make people slightly uncomfortable. Who is this King? Do we want a King? Why are we talking about the End Times? Who are sheep are who are goats? Christ the King Sunday, though, is strongly linked to Easter and Holy Week. It is a moment of Easter for us. We hear how we must die to this world to be born into the next.

So I think about these lilies and what they have been through. Life, death, rebirth, the trials of fall weather, a narrow escape from the deep freeze and here they are celebrating Christ with us on the last Sunday of the church year.


Faith + Home Connection December 2014

FaithCross_ConnectALT Gather as a household and share one thing that you are enjoying or pondering about the Advent season and also share what is troubling you about the Advent season.

FaithCross_BibleALT Luke 1: 26-38: Read this out loud together. For younger families, this story can be found in the Spark Storybook Bible on page 196 or in the Jesus Storybook Bible beginning on page 176-179. Younger children may want to act out the story or be one of the different voices as the story is read.

FaithCross: for children: Did you ever do something really hard? What was it? Did someone ask you to do it (like a parent or a teacher) or did you want to do this thing yourself? Did you do it? Were you surprised that you could do it? Mary was asked to do this hard thing-having a baby is not easy! But she knew that God was with her and that with God, anything is possible. God can surprise us all the time! Look for God to surprise you with God’s love today!

For youth/adults: I am always surprised by Mary’s calm and sure response to Gabriel’s announcement about this impossible and scary thing about to happen to her. Mary was willing to give her whole life to what God was doing in the world-bringing salvation and eternal life. What do you think is impossible to do in the world? (Eradicate hunger, poverty, violence, etc.?) What do you think would change (or could change) about these huge issues if we all responded to God’s call to participation like Mary? What would a first step, that you could actually take, be towards something that the world needs and perhaps God calling you for participation in?

FaithCross_ServeALT For Christmas this year, do an “alternative giving” option with friends and family. Give donations in honor of family members and give a simple handmade gift (such as an ornament, something you have knit, sewed, carved, created or a homemade card) with a note explaining the donation instead. One possibility is the ELCA Good Gifts Program. Follow the link here:
One simple idea to say “Here I am!” to the things God is doing in the world!

20130822-224425.jpg God of all possibilities, open our eyes and our hearts to follow you into hard and what might seem like impossible places. We pray for all your love and grace to flow through us to your world. May we always remember that with you, nothing is impossible. We pray this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ, amen.

20130822-223908.jpg +Do not be afraid, nothing will be impossible with God+


Children’s Sermon Matthew 25: 31-46, We are all connected in Jesus! Christ the King Sunday

Preparation: Have enough name tags with different identifications on them such as: “sick,” “hungry,” homeless,” “thirsty,” “stranger,” “lonely,” etc. You can have more than one child with the same “label.” Expand upon labels as is appropriate in you context. Have enough name tags with “Jesus” written on them for each child (or even congregational member).

20130822-223454.jpg Gather the children and give them each a name tag with the label on it as they come up. Ask them, “Have you ever needed help and didn’t get any? How did that feel? (Accept all answers) It doesn’t feel that good does it. Have you ever helped a friend or even someone that you didn’t know?” (Hopefully, they will say yes.) “We all have helped someone, even if we may not know it! When we offer a hug, a smile or say a kind word, very simple things, we can help someone know the love of God can’t we? Here at our church we help people we know and people we don’t know in many different ways. (List some of the internal ministries (meals for the sick, visits, etc.) and outward ministries here. If you have any that children participate in be sure to say so and invite more children and youth to be a part of that ministry!) Some of the people we work with are the people that Jesus talks about in our story today and are on your name tags. Why do we do that? Is it just to be good? Is it just because Jesus says so (Jesus does but…)?”
FaithCross_BibleALT “In our story today, Jesus does say that we should feed hungry people, give water to those who need clean water to drink, give people clothes, care for sick people, etc. And we do that! But it’s not just so that we can feel good about ourselves or make sure that God loves us right? No, God loves us no matter what. You each have on a name tag with a label of a type of person on it. We’ve all been sick, we might need shelter one day or food. We never know, one day we help someone else and the next day someone is helping us. That’s what we call “partnership” or working together. We all need stuff sometimes!”
“Here is another name tag for each of you. Whose name is on it? Jesus! That’s right! Jesus says that he loves us all very much, is with us always and we know that each one of us reflects Jesus to the world with every word, smile and action. Jesus says that you are a part of Jesus and Jesus is a part of you! And you, and you, and you and you (point to all of the children and all of the adults!)! Jesus says that we are connected to God and so we are also connected to each other-EVERYONE matters! We want everyone to know God’s love and to know that Jesus is with them and a part of their lives. So this name tag today reminds you that Jesus is part of you and your life each and every day and you are also connected to all of God’s people!”

FaithCross_WorshipWe are all connected and share in the life and love of God. Have a large wooden cross or a large poster board cross that can be attached to a wall or free standing. Have several post-it notes and pens on the table with the cross. Invite each person to write a way that they need that community to pray for them this week on a post-it note and stick it to the cross. Then invite each person to take another person’s prayer off the cross and pray for them that week. You can choose to have names on them or not.

20130822-224425.jpg We are grateful that you love us all and bring us together for community, support and help when we need it. We pray for all of those who do not have enough to eat, do not have clean water, shelter, or are lonely in anyway. We pray to look for ways to be your love and mercy to all in the world and we long for the day when all of your people have what they need for daily life. In the name of Jesus who is with us always, amen.

FaithCross_BlessALT +You matter to God+

Children’s Sermon Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost, Matthew 25:14-30, November 16, 2014

Prepare: You will need a trash can and a couple crumpled up sheets of paper. I would put the trash can somewhere away from the children, you will be throwing the crumpled paper into the (or at) the trash can, and it could be chaos if the trash is too close by.

20130822-223454.jpg  Ask the children if they play any sports. You are aiming for basketball, so maybe steer them in that direction.

FaithCross_ConversationALT Basketball is really fun! Let’s think about basketball for a minute. The basic idea is that you need to throw the ball through the hoop, right? Well I can’t really bring a basketball and a hoop into the church (Or maybe you can?!? Depends on where you worship!) but I did bring a trash can and a couple balls of paper. OK, here’s the thing about this – If I really want this paper to go into the trashcan, or a basketball to go through the hoop, I need to make sure that I throw it hard enough to get there, right? If I just barely throw it, like this, I know exactly where it’s going to go, but it’s nowhere near the trashcan. But, I’m afraid that if I really toss it far enough that I will miss! Then I will have to get up and go get it, which is a pain, so to be safe, I’m just not going to throw it. Sound good? (I hope that you get some encouragement to throw it here, but you may have to get them worked up a little) OK, but what if I miss? Should I worry about it? No? Ok, here goes!

(doesn’t matter if you make it)

Wow, that was much more fun than just dropping the paper!

This is kind of like the story we hear in the Gospel today. Three people were given some money. Two of them risked it, they spent the money on something that they hoped would make them even more money and it worked – kind of like me really tossing the paper. The third person was nervous and kept the money hidden so it would be safe. Well, the man who gave them the money was really happy with the two that invested or spent the money, because they did something wonderful with a gift he had given them, but he was really mad at the third guy because he hid the gift and didn’t do anything!

Now, we all know that when Jesus tells a story there is ALWAYS more going on than what it first seems. Jesus isn’t really talking about money, or about rich people and servants, Jesus is talking about us! Jesus is talking about gifts from God that make us all good at different things. Some of us are really good at figuring out problems, some are good at art or music, or running or caring for people – all kind of different things! Jesus is telling us to use our gifts to make the world better – we should invest our gifts and we will get good things back.

FaithCross_PrayALT   Generous God, thank you for the gifts that you give! Give us all the courage to invest in our gifts and use them to help others. Amen

FaithCross_Worship Prayer partners! Ask people to join together in groups of 2 or 3. These can be household groups or random groups. Somehow distribute these three questions (on a screen or in a worship bulletin or whatever works in you context).

  1. What gifts do you have?
  2. What do you risk if you invest in your gifts and use them?
  3. What do you risk if you hide your gifts?

Prayer partners should ask these questions our loud, but the answers can be silent (better if both people talk, but the important thing is hear the questions so that everyone thinks about them).

After all three questions have been asked (and answered) then invite the partners to pray with each other.

20130822-223908.jpg God loves everything about you.


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