Tag Archives: love

CHILDREN’S SERMON, 7TH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY (LUKE 6:27-38)

Prepare: Ideally this works best as a little skit. You can set up something with another worship leader, or with one of the children. You can also try to just set it up to happen as you go! The idea is that the other person takes something from you and walks away. It can be almost anything, your cup of coffee, a pencil, your Bible, anything! You can work out what the goal of them taking it was – it could be because they don’t have a Bible, or that they needed something to write with, or that they were just trying to have fun and didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. You decide.

Set your skit in motion as the children gather! Have the other person in the skit walk up to you and take whatever they were set up to take from you. Say something like, “Hey! What are you doing? That’s mine!” They should respond with something typically bully-ish, like, “Well it’s mine now!”

OK – wait a minute . . . I read something about this very situation in the Bible! Even though they just took something from me I should treat them with love. I think it’s today’s Gospel reading! Let me look . . . yes, Jesus says that we should love our enemies, we should treat other people as we would want them to treat us. Ok, that’s super not easy in this case. I need that back and they were just really mean to me. I don’t want to be loving! And I would never just walk up and grab something from someone, so why should I have to be nice back?

I have a hard time with this, too. Jesus is asking a lot of us. It’s hard to be loving when we don’t feel loved in return. It’s hard to be caring when we are afraid we will be hurt. It’s hard to give up the things that we like and care about because someone else might need them more.

And it gets even harder! Being loving and caring doesn’t mean you should put yourself in danger of getting hurt, and it doesn’t mean that you should just let people take anything they want from you. Because when you think about how you would want to be treated, you would probably want to know if what you did hurt someone else’s feelings, right?

This is one of those really hard stories from Jesus. It was difficult for the disciples to understand, and it’s still difficult for us!

So (turn to the person who took you stuff), I don’t think that you really wanted to be mean to me. Is there some reason that you took that? Is there something that you need?

(let the story play out the way you decided when you set it up)

Loving God, you give us some many good things, and so often we forget that the people around us are part of those good things! Teach us to be loving, especially to the people who are the hardest to love. Amen.

God Loves you no matter what!

Make a “ways to be loving” list. Even better if this is part of a congregational idea to think about being loving as a church in the community. Ask people for ideas about how to care for the neighborhood, or for a park, or for the people in your town, etc.

Children’s Sermon – 7th Sunday after Epiphany – Matthew 5:38-48

Prepare: The only thing you need is someone who is willing to let you hold their arms down.  It could be a child, youth or adult, but they need to be willing to play along (and not freaked out by having their arms held down!),

 Invite the children to gather as you normally do, but once they are all there make a grumpy face.  Kind of go back and forth between normal and grumpy a few times and see if you can get one of the kids to ask what you are doing.

 Yeah . . . I’m practicing my grumpy face.  See, I was reading the Gospel today and Jesus is talking about how we should love our enemies.  Jesus actually says that we should love people who  want to be mean to us and it made me grumpy!  Then I noticed something a little strange, my face got really tired of being grumpy.  I took a lot of effort to stay grumpy, like way more work than just being happy and content with the world.  But here’s the worst part – after I worked on being grumpy for a while, I noticed that it got easier.  So I started thinking about being grumpy, and it’s a lot of work to being with – harder than being happy or loving, but if you work at if for a while it gets easy and might even be a habit!

Let me show you what I mean, I need a volunteer (this would be where you need to have someone who’s arms you can hold down.  Alternatively, you could have the person use a door frame or even just the wall if that is a better option for you.) OK, this person here is going to work really, really hard at lifting her arms up to the side, and I am going to hold her arms in place.  (Hold the volunteers arms to their sides, or have them push out on a door frame).  Push really hard!  We are going to work at this for about 30 seconds.  Then, when I say so, I want you to just let your arms hang at your side. (If they do this right, their arms will *float* up away from their side because the muscles are now used to pushing out and up!)

See, first she tried really hard, and now it’s just a habit for her muscles to want to lift her arms!  So, if you practice being grumpy, like I was doing, eventually that is just what you act like all the time!  Jesus wants us to love our enemies because all people deserve love, even if we don’t like them.  And if we work hard at being loving then that becomes a habit, too!

 Jesus loves you even when you feel grumpy!

 Good and loving God, we know that we are called to love everyone, but it just so hard! Fill us with your love and give us the strength to share that love even with people who are hard to love. Amen

 For the worship station, simply invite people to repeat the arm experiment for themselves.  Give a little space for people to talk, reflect and giggle at the silly ways our bodies do things.

Children’s Sermon & Worship Station – Nov. 13, 2016 – Luke 21:5-19

Prepare:  You will need something to distract you at least a couple times.  Be creative!  It can be someone coming into the room to ask you a question, or an alert on your phone.  Or you could just pull a “Dori” and keep losing track of what you were saying!  Just make sure you have something set up ahead of time.

20130822-223454.jpgThis is the part of the children’s message where you need the distractions.  Welcome the children as you usually do, but make sure you are interrupted/distracted in the middle. the distraction should be enough that you feel the need to start over.  Do this a couple times to get the point across (and because it’s fun to be silly!)

20130822-223633.jpgWait!  I’m getting distracted! You know what’s weird about that?  Not getting distracted is exactly what the Gospel story is about today!

I would add that the little distractions that just happened to me are nothing like what Jesus is describing, but they did keep me from talking to you, and that’s what I’m here for right now. The disciples waiting for something big from God, and they figured that Jesus – being who he was – would have some inside knowledge about it.  And maybe he did, but he basically says, “Don’t worry about it!” All kinds of crazy things are going to happen in your life. People will be mean, people will be nice. Good things will happen and bad things will happen. But none of these things is the end of world.

You just need to do your best to stay focused on the good things that are coming, and be working to help everyone be part of the good that is to come.

Maybe it wasn’t a satisfying answer for the disciples, or for us either, but it is an encouragement to us to keep spreading God’s love to everyone we meet. No matter how distracted we get by what is going on around us.

20130822-223749.jpgGood and patient God, We get so caught up in the distractions of life. Forgive us for missing out on things that we should have done, and help us to keep our hearts and minds focused on your love and our love for each other. Amen.

20130822-223908.jpgGod is focused on you!

 

FaithCross_Worship

You are going to make a distraction cover-up wall!

Find a bunch of stickers that say, “God Loves You,” or that have other Christian images on them. (Look for a Christian Book store or check Hobby Lobby).  Then hang a long piece of art paper on the wall, or put it over a table, whichever works if you space.

Put out some pens, crayons, markers, etc, and invite people to write or draw the thing that most distracts them from being engaged with God’s love.

Have a container of stickers our so that they can cover the distraction with God’s love!

Children’s Sermon – Luke 13:10-17- August 21st, 2016

Prepare: Make a list of rules on a big piece of paper. Maybe something like this (but feel free to adjust for your own style and circumstance).

  1. No food in the living room
  2. Athletic shoes only in the gym
  3. Don’t talk to strangers

20130822-223520.jpg As the children gather make them do something silly before they can sit down (or otherwise be ready for the children’s sermon).  Something like you have to turn around 3 times, hop on one foot and high-five your neighbor before you can sit down! Be ready to make up a story that goes with your “rules for sitting down.”

20130822-223633.jpg I’m really glad that we all did those things before we sat down! Do you know why? Because they are rules! And they all mean something.  We turned around three times because one time I was going to sit down and there was a snake where I was going to sit, so I always turn around three times to check . . . but I guess that’s not really a problem here, and I didn’t really look for the snake, either.  But the hopping, that we do because one time I stubbed my toe on the couch before I sat down, so I always do that before I sit to remember not to stub my toe again . . . but I guess there’s not really a couch here.  But the high-five, that one is important because I was playing a game with a bunch of people once and we did that when we all got back to the circle . . . but I guess we are not really playing that game right now . . . come to think of it, while those rules for sitting down all had a good reason, they don’t really make sense here, do they?

Huh, well, I brought some other rules that totally make sense and we should never break, ever. No matter what! The first one is “No food in the living room.”  Well, unless your home sick, then you can eat in the living room. But the second one, “Athletic shoes only in the gym,” that one we never break. Oh, unless it’s awards night, and it’s in the gym, then we should wear nice shoes. OK, the last one is unbreakable for sure. “Don’t talk to strangers.” That one we never, ever break! Except, it’s probably good to say hi to the crossing guard even if you don’t know him, and you should order food from that server at the restaurant . . . OK, sometimes we break that one, too!

The thing is that most good rules are there to keep us safe, or protect precious things, or help us to live better. And we should always do our best to pay attention to those rules, but we also need to understand what’s going on around us. Jesus breaks a rule in the Gospel reading today, he works on the Sabbath.  He heals a woman who is bent over and in pain, and he does it because she is right in front of him and needs his help. He knows the rule about the Sabbath, he knows that he is breaking it, but he also knows that it is more important at that moment to care for the woman in front of him.  He just like the rules I talked about earlier, the best plan is to follow the rules, but sometimes caring for people needs to come first.

20130822-223908.jpgMay God’s truth and love shine in you today.

20130822-224425.jpg Good and loving God, we know that good rules are there to keep us safe and healthy, and we give thanks for that! Help us to also be loving and caring when we need to be so that we can show your love in the world. Amen

FaithCross_Worship Golden Rule Chain!  Create a space where people can share a time when they were treated with love and caring even though it was against the rules – OR – when they treated someone with love and caring when they *should* have just walked away.

This can be a popcorn prayer, or a time of open discussion, or you can have people tweet prayers to the pastor.  You name it!

You could even make and art project out of it!  Get a big piece if banner paper, and a bunch of markers.  Out line a rainbow lightly with pencil and encourage people to write their “Golden Rule” moment on the rainbow in the correct color for where they write. (Don’t get too picky, it will be cool no matter what.)

Children’s Sermon – July 31, 2016 – Luke 12:13-21

Prepare: You will need a “treasure chest” of some kind.  It can be an actual chest, or as simple as a little box.  It doesn’t need to have anything in it.

20130822-223520.jpgAs the children gather, set your treasure chest down carefully in the middle of the group, and ask them what they think is in it.

20130822-223633.jpg

Those are some good ideas! I think that I know what kinds of things you would keep in your treasure chest now.

In the Gospel we hear today, Jesus tells a story about a rich man who has so much stuff that he builds big buildings just to put stuff in.  He is very proud of what he has accomplished and of all his stuff, but he dies at the end of the story! Who gets all the stuff then? I think that is pretty interesting, but not as interesting as the question that started Jesus telling a story (because, you know that when you ask Jesus a question he is going to tell you a story for the answer, right?).

I guess it’s not really a question, but a request.  A man asks Jesus to tell his brother to split the family fortune with him.  Basically he wants half of his brother’s stuff. I think that Jesus is trying to tell this man that he is worried about the wrong things, or that he isn’t paying attention to what is really important. The man seems to be willing to make his brother man just so he can have more money, or animals – more stuff. Now, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if the man liked his brother, or didn’t like his brother, but it seems to me that Jesus is telling him to stop focusing on stuff, because things can get used up, be stolen or lost, and don’t last forever. Gathering things up in a box is just about as good as having an empty box (You can open the empty box here if you want.) What we should treasure is people! We should care for each other and use our wealth to help each other, not store it up and hide it away.

20130822-223908.jpgYou are God’s treasure

20130822-223749.jpgLoving God, you treasure us and care for us. Thank you! Help us to treasure the people around us more than we treasure our stuff. Amen

FaithCross_WorshipFor a worship station, invite your congregation to think about the people that they treasure.  It doesn’t have to be someone in the room, they can even be friends and loved ones who have died.  Give them a minute to call those people to mind and then offer a “popcorn” prayer where people can name the people they treasure aloud or silently.

If naming people in prayer our loud is not part of you tradition you may want to have a few “plants” in the congregation to get the prayer started.

 

Children’s Sermon – July 10, 2016 – Luke 10:25-37

Prepare: Make a poster (or a use a flip chart) that says “Who is my neighbor” across the top.  If you are doing a worship station, either make the poster two-sided (same on the back) or make two posters.  You will need one for the children’s sermon, and a different one for the congregation.

20130822-223454.jpgInvite the children to come forward with a request for help.  Something like, “I need some of the smartest people in the room to help me answer this question, so please send all the children up here!”

20130822-223633.jpgHave your poster ready to go, and read it to the children. In today’s story about Jesus, someone asks him a pretty easy question, and, to be honest, I think that Jesus just over-thinks it. He launches into this long story about a traveler who gets attacked by robbers, and there are priests and leaders and people we don’t like . . . I just think it’s a mess!

So, let’s see if we can make sense of this question and maybe get a clearer answer than Jesus gave us.  Who is your neighbor?

(write their ideas on the poster as they say them – you can, and should, repeat them for all the people to hear. Go with the flow here, but once things start to calm down, or it seems like a good time to add some complexity go on to the next part.  You’re going to have to ad-lib a little depending on what they have said, what they say, etc.)

OK, so a neighbor is someone who lives next to you? What about across the street? OK, so what about the neighbor of my neighbor, is that my neighbor, too? I have a friend who lives about two blocks away . . . is she my neighbor? What about her neighbors, are they mine, too?

Here’s a tough question – what if all of these people look different from me? What if they have curly hair? Or different colored skin than me? Or what if they are really short, or really tall? What if they like tuna and I think it’s gross?

Boy, the deeper we get into this neighbor question the more difficult it is to answer!  Maybe Jesus was right to tell a story rather than trying to give a simple answer.  See, the story that Jesus tells about neighbors taking care of each other doesn’t put neighbors in a specific place – not next to you, or down the street. Jesus’ story doesn’t make sure that neighbors look like us, or think like us. Jesus’ story even says that sometimes the person we think should be a good neighbor isn’t a very good neighbor at all!

Maybe what Jesus is trying to say is that our neighbors aren’t just the people who live near us, or look like us, but instead they are anyone and everyone who needs our love and care.

20130822-223749.jpgLoving God, thank you for being our neighbor and for giving us people who love us a care for us. Help us to be loving and caring neighbors to all the people we meet. Amen.

20130822-223908.jpgGod’s love binds up your heart.

 

 

FaithCross_WorshipFor the worship station, set up a prayer station around you “neighbor” poster and encourage people to think about the people who they don’t want to be neighbors with.