Showing posts with label Children's Sermon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Children's Sermon. Show all posts

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Why Can't Easter Be Like Christmas?

Easter Sunday        April 16, 2017    
Acts 10:34-43  Psalm118:1-2,14-24
Colossians 3:1-4 Matthew 28:1-10

The Smith family had three children, Harry, Jeremy and Chloe.   And they had some wonderful grandparents.  The three kids loved to do things with their grandparents.  Papa and Nana would do wonderful things for them and with them at special times of the year, like for their birthdays, for Christmas, Easter, summer vacations and for Valentine Day.

One year the three children decided to ask their Nana and Papa for something special.  They just loved Christmas; it was so fun to wake up on Christmas morning and see lots of gifts under the Christmas tree.  They loved to sing Christmas songs and so they decided to ask their Nana and Papa for something special.

Chloe, Harry and Jeremy were with their Nana and Papa one day and Chloe said, "Nana and Papa, we have something special to ask you."  Papa said,"Well, what do you want to ask?"  Jeremy jumped in and said, "I will asked.  We have been talking about this for a long time and so now it is time to ask you."  Nana said, "Okay, Jeremy, what is it that you want?"  But then, Harry interrupted and said, "Nana, I should ask you since I am the oldest.  I'm 9, and Jeremy is 7 and Chloe is 5, so I should ask."  Papa said, "Okay, what is it that you want?"  Harry said, "What we want is this.  We want you to make Easter for us just like Christmas."   Papa thought he knew what they meant.  Perhaps they were thinking about all of the presents under the Christmas tree and they were comparing this with just getting about a dozen chocolate Easter eggs in the Easter egg hunt.  Nana looked at Papa and winked and said, "Papa, we'll have to think really hard and see if we can make Easter a special time for the kids."

The children were very excited now and they could barely wait for Easter.  Every day they would ask their mom and dad, "When is Easter coming?  Will it be coming soon?"  Harry asked, "Can I use your cell phone to call Nana and Papa to make sure that they don't forget Easter and their Easter promise."

Mom and Dad made a count down calendar for them on the refrigerator and each day they would mark big red X on a day.  They were so excited.  And mom and dad were worried that it might be a big let down for the children and they did not know what Nana and Papa had planned.

Well, finally Easter came and the children got up really early.  They went down stairs to see if there was anything in the living room. Nope.  Nothing there.  They went into the backyard to see if there were any surprises there.  They couldn't find anything.  Chloe wondered," I wonder if Nana and Papa forgot."  So the children went to the kitchen and mom and dad had breakfast ready.  And then they had to get ready for church.  So they went to church and had a very good Easter celebration and they had an Easter Egg hunt, but no Nana and Papa.  Jeremy asked their mom and dad, "Where is Nana and Papa?  Why weren't they at church?"   Dad said, "Well, they went to their own church today.  But we are going to drive to their house today and see them."

Chloe said, "Great, so we will get our Easter surprise."

After they got home from church, they changed clothes and ate a quick lunch.  Harry said, "Let's go.  We have to go to Nana's and Papa's to see if they can make Easter better than Christmas."

So they got into the car and in about twenty minutes they came to Nana and Papa's house.  Jeremy was excited and he said, "I can hardly wait for our surprise."

They got out of the car and Nana and Papa greeted them and hugged them and wished them a happy Easter and they all went into the house.  And the children were surprised by what they saw in the family room.  You know what they found?

They found a large cross there.  And around the cross they found lots of gifts wrapped.  Chloe said, "Nana, is this a Easter Christmas Tree?" 

Nana said, "No, this is a cross."  Harry said, "I see that you have our names on the gifts.  Can we start opening them?"  Papa said,"Okay, do you want to start?  So each child got one of the gifts with their name on it."  Jeremy said, "Let's open them together.  On, your mark get set, go!"  The three children ripped off the wrapping as fast as they could.  They got down to the box.  And together they ripped open the boxes.  And Harry said, "There's nothing in my box.  Where's my gift?"  And Jeremy said, "There's nothing in my box either."  And Chloe said, "There's nothing in mine either.  My box is empty."  Chloe started to laugh in nervous way, "Ha, ha, Papa, that's a very good joke.  Can we open the rest of the gifts now?"  Papa and Nana said, "Sure go ahead.  Open all of the gifts."

So the children began to open all of the gifts.  They opened their second presents and again, all of the boxes were empty.  Jeremy said, "Let keep going and open more presents; this is a scavenger gift hunt."  So they open three gifts and then four gifts and five gifts and all of the boxes were empty."  And they came to their last gift.  Harry said, "I hope you saved the best for last."  And they all opened their sixth gift and their sixth gift was also an empty box.  The family room was a mess; it was full of the all of the wrapping and boxes of 18 different wrapped boxes and all of the boxes were empty.

Chloe was sad and she started to cry.  She said, "Why didn't we get any gifts?  I thought you were going to make Easter as good as Christmas."  Harry was older and he said, "Papa, you got us!  That was a good Easter joke."  Though he still was sad about the empty boxes.  Jeremy said, "Nana and Papa, why did you do this?  We got so excited and now we're so sad and disappointed.  Why did you do this?"

Papa said, "Well, your parents told us that we should not make Easter like Christmas.  They said we should do something to teach you about Easter.  Christmas is about giving the gift of our lives to the baby Jesus, just like the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.  That is why we share gifts at Christmas.  But Easter is different from Christmas.  How did you feel when you opened your presents?"

Chloe said, "We felt sad and disappointed because we were expecting to find some gifts."  Harry said, "I thought it was a joke that you playing on us."

Nana asked, "What did the women discover on Easter morning when they went to the tomb of Jesus?"  Jeremy said, "They saw that the tomb was empty.  They were very sad.  They thought someone had stolen the body of Jesus."

Papa said, "But was it good that they found the tomb empty?"  Chloe said, "Yes, because it meant that Jesus was alive and risen.  The angel told them that Jesus had risen.  And then they were really happy when they saw Jesus alive and well."

Nana said, "So what did you learn from the empty presents?"   Harry said, "I learned that sometimes empty can mean the very best gift of all because the empty tomb of Jesus meant that he was alive."

Jeremy said, "So we learned something very important today.  Easter is not supposed to be like Christmas because the empty tomb of Jesus is the very best gift of all."

Papa said, "I so happy that you have learned about how special Easter is.  But I do have something fore you.  Here's an envelope."

Harry opened the envelope and he found airplane tickets for all of them to go to Hawaii for a vacation together.  The children all hugged their Nana and Papa and thanked them for teaching them about Easter.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sunday School, 2 Advent, Cycle B, December 7, 2014

2 Advent b      December 7, 2014
Is. 40:1-11     Psalm 85:1-2,8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a,18    Mark 1:1-8

Sunday School Themes

Light two Advent Candles today as we count down towards Christmas

On the Jesse Tree, add pictures of honey and locust to signify the diet of John the Baptist
Introduce John the Baptist as a "set up man" for Jesus
Teach them about the Baptism of John the Baptist and why the Jordan River Baptism is important
John the Baptist taught that even though people were born into a faith tradition, each person had to renew their individual commitment to God.

The Jordan River was the last crossing for the people of Israel to enter their Promised Land
The Baptism of John meant that each person had to enter the Promised Land by personal choice

Talk about John's dress and diet and how he lived in the wilderness so he could hear God clearly and not be distracted by life in the city.

Talk about the fancy religious word for education: Repentance.
Repentance means the future state of mind that one has after learning something new.
But repentance means that after we learn new things we also change our behaviors.

A sermon lesson for this day:

  What does a blocker do in football for a running back?  He pushes and shoves tacklers out of the way so the running back can run far with ball.
  What do we use bulldozers and earthmovers for?  We used them to build straight and level roads so we can get places quicker in our cars.
  Today we read about a man named John the Baptist.  And John the Baptist is a person who was like a blocker or like a bulldozer.
  He was like a blocker, in that he pushed aside everything, to prepare a way for Jesus Christ.  He was like a bulldozer in that he was trying to help people come directly to knowledge of God.
  John the Baptist lived a very different life.  He camped out all of the time.  He lived out amongst the wild animals all of the time.  He probably slept in caves.  He wore a camel hair robe and do you know what he ate:  He ate grasshoppers and honey?
  John came and he wasn’t very popular, because he saw some things that were wrong that needed to be corrected.  And no one likes to be corrected, do we?  When our parents or teachers correct us, it is not always fun.  But why do they correct us?  Because they want us to be better.
  John the Baptist corrected people, because he believed that they could be better.  And he really wanted them to be introduced to Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ was an important gift from God to us.
  Today, when we think about John the Baptist, let us remember that sometimes we need to be corrected so that we can get better. What If we never were corrected, then we could not get better.  It does not always feel good to be corrected, but remember we do want to get better.  And the only way to get better is to have someone show us how.
  Jesus Christ showed us how to be better.  He showed how to love God with all our hearts and how to love our neighbors.  Let us be thankful today for the people that God gives to us to help correct our behavior so that we can become better.  That is what the season of Advent is about: Correcting our behavior so that we can be better.  Amen.

Family Eucharistic Liturgy

St. John the Divine Episcopal Church
17740 Peak Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Family Service with Holy Eucharist
December 7, 2014: The Second Sunday of Advent

Gathering Songs:  Light a Candle, Prepare the Way of the Lord;   Jesus Stand Among Us,  Lord, I Lift Your Name on High

Song: Light A Candle   (tune: Jimmy Crack Corn)
1                          Light a candle for hope today, light a candle for hope today, light a candle for hope today.  Advent time is here.   
2                          Light a candle for peace today,…….

Liturgist:      Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
People:         And Blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever.  Amen.

Liturgist:  Oh God, Our hearts are open to you.
And you know us and we can hide nothing from you.
Prepare our hearts and our minds to love you and worship you.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Liturgist:         The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.

Liturgist:  Let us pray
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
First Litany of Praise: Alleluia (chanted)
O God, you are GreatAlleluia
O God, you have made us! Alleluia
O God, you have made yourself known to usAlleluia
O God, you have provided us with us a SaviorAlleluia
O God, you have given us a Christian familyAlleluia
O God, you have forgiven our sinsAlleluia
O God, you brought your Son Jesus back from the deadAlleluia

Liturgist:   A reading from the Prophet Isaiah

A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 

Liturgist: The Word of the Lord
People: Thanks be to God
Liturgist: Let us read together from Psalm 85
and to those who turn their hearts to him.
Children’s Creed

Our grateful praise we offer to you God, our Creator;
You have made us in your image
And then you gave us your Son, Jesus, born of Mary, nurtured by Joseph

 Post-Communion Prayer
Everlasting God, we have gathered for the meal that Jesus asked us to keep;
People:      Thanks be to God! 
I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, * for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
Truly, his salvation is very near to those who fear him, * that his glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met together; * righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Litany Phrase: Thanks be to God! (chanted)
For the good earth, for our food and clothing. Thanks be to God!
For our families and friends. Thanks be to God!
For the talents and gifts that you have given to us. Thanks be to God!
For this day of worship. Thanks be to God!
For health and for a good night’s sleep. Thanks be to God!
For work and for play. Thanks be to God!
For teaching and for learning. Thanks be to God!
For the happy events of our lives. Thanks be to God!
For the celebration of the birthdays and anniversaries of our friends and parish family.
   Thanks be to God!

Liturgist:         The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark
People:            Glory to you, Lord Christ.
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
"See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: `Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'"  John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Liturgist:         The Gospel of the Lord.
People:            Praise to you, Lord Christ.

Sermon – Father Phil

We did not make ourselves, so we believe that God the Father is the maker of the world.
Since God is so great and we are so small,
We believe God came into our world and was born as Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary.
We need God’s help and we believe that God saved us by the life, death and
     resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We believe that God is present with us now as the Holy Spirit.
We believe that we are baptized into God’s family the Church where everyone is
We believe that Christ is kind and fair.
We believe that we have a future in knowing Jesus Christ.
And since we all must die, we believe that God will preserve us forever.  Amen.

Litany Phrase: Christ, have mercy. (chanted)

For fighting and war to cease in our world. Christ, have mercy.
For peace on earth and good will towards all. Christ, have mercy.
For the safety of all who travel. Christ, have mercy.
For jobs for all who need them. Christ, have mercy.
For care of those who are growing old. Christ, have mercy.
For the safety, health and nutrition of all the children in our world. Christ, have mercy.
For the well-being of our families and friends. Christ, have mercy.
For the good health of those we know to be ill. Christ, have mercy.
For the remembrance of those who have died. Christ, have mercy.
For the forgiveness of all of our sins. Christ, have mercy.

Liturgist:         The Peace of the Lord be always with you.
People:            And also with you.

Song during the preparation of the Altar and the receiving of an offering.

Offertory Song:   Prepare the Way of the Lord  (Renew! # 92)  Sing four times
Prepare the way of the Lord.  Prepare the way of the Lord,
and all people will see the salvation of our God.                                                                                           
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Prologue to the Eucharist
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, for to them belong the kingdom of heaven.”
All become members of a family by birth or adoption.
Baptism is a celebration of our birth into the family of God.
A family meal gathers and sustains each human family.
The Holy Eucharist is the special meal that Jesus gave to his friends to keep us together as the family of Christ.

The Lord be with you
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to God.
It is right to give God thanks and praise.

It is very good and right to give thanks, because God made us, Jesus redeemed us and the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts.  Therefore with Angels and Archangels and all of the world that we see and don’t see, we forever sing this hymn of praise:

Holy, Holy, Holy (Intoned)
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Power and Might.  Heav’n and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 
Hosanna in the highest. Hosanna in the Highest.

(Children may gather around the altar)
The Celebrant now praises God for the salvation of the world through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And you gave us many men and women of faith to help us to live by faith:
Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachael.
And he called us to be sons and daughters of God.

Your Son called us to live better lives and he gave us this Holy Meal so that when we eat
 the bread and drink the wine, we can  know that the Presence of Christ is as near to us as  
 this food and drink  that becomes a part of us.

And so, Father, we bring you these gifts of bread and wine. Bless and sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Bless and sanctify us by your Holy Spirit so that we can we love God and our neighbor.

On the night when Jesus was betrayed he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me."

After supper, Jesus took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and said, "Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Father, we now celebrate the memorial of your Son. When we eat this holy Meal of Bread and Wine, we are telling the entire world about the life, death and resurrection of Christ and that his presence will be with us in our future.

Let this holy meal keep us together as friends who share a special relationship because of your Son Jesus Christ.  May we forever live with praise to God to whom we belong as sons and daughters.

By Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory
 is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. AMEN.

And now as our Savior Christ has taught us, we now sing,
(Children rejoin their parents and take up their instruments)

Our Father: (Renew # 180, West Indian Lord’s Prayer)
Our Father who art in heaven:  Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done: Hallowed be thy name.

Done on earth as it is in heaven: Hallowed be thy name.
Give us this day our daily bread: Hallowed be thy name.

And forgive us all our debts: Hallowed be thy name.
As we forgive our debtors: Hallowed be thy name.

Lead us not into temptation: Hallowed be thy name.
But deliver us from evil: Hallowed be thy name.

Thine is the kingdom, power, and glory: Hallowed be thy name.
Forever and ever: Hallowed be thy name.

Amen, amen, amen: Hallowed be thy name.
Amen, amen, amen, amen: Hallowed be thy name.

Breaking of the Bread
Celebrant:        Alleluia.  Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.
People:            Therefore let us keep the feast.  Alleluia!

Words of Administration

Communion Song: Jesus Stand Among Us,  (Renew! #17)
1-Jesus stand among us, at the meeting of our lives, be our sweet agreement at the meeting of our eyes; O, Jesus, we love You, so we gather here, join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.

2-So to You we’re gathering out of each and every land.  Christ the love between us at the
joining of our hand; O, Jesus, we love You, so we gather here, join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.
3-Jesus stand among us, the breaking of the bread, join us as one body as we worship Your, our Head.  O, Jesus, we love You, so we gather here, join our hearts in unity and take away our fear.

We have remembered his words of blessing on the bread and the wine.
And His Presence has been known to us.
We have remembered that we are sons and daughters of God and brothers
    and sisters in Christ.
Send us forth now into our everyday lives remembering that the blessing in the
     bread and wine spreads into each time, place and person in our lives,
As we are ever blessed by you, O Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Closing Song: Lord, I Lift Your Name on High (Renew!  # 4)
Lord I lift your name on high; Lord, I love to sing your praises.  I’m so glad you’re in my life;
I’m so glad you came to save us.  You came from heaven to earth to show the way,
from earth to the cross my debt to pay.  From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky;
Lord, I lift your name on high.

Liturgist:    Let us go forth in the Name of Christ.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jesus as the Gate

4 Easter a         May 11, 2014  
Acts 6:1-9, 7:2a 51-60   Ps. 23 
1 Peter 2:19-25    John 10:1-10               

  Today we have read another riddle of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the Gate.”  I am the Sheep Gate.  That is quite a riddle to say, “I am the Door.”  How can Jesus be a Gate or a Door?
  Well in the time of Jesus a Shepherd was a Gate.  A shepherd would sleep in the gate opening to the sheepfold.  The shepherd would not let the sheep out during the night.  And the shepherd would not let the foxes and the wolves attack the sheep because the Shepherd slept in the doorway of the sheep fold.
  We call Jesus the Good Shepherd and one of the roles of a good shepherd was to be gatekeeper.
  Today is mother’s day and your mom is a good shepherd for you; she is a good gatekeeper for you.  And she is the best looking door or gate you have ever seen.  But please don’t say to your mom, “Mom, you are the best looking door I’ve ever seen.”
  But let me try to show you how a human door works.  I stand in this door way here.  And I won’t let you go through this door because there is something dangerous in this next room and I want to protect you from it.  It may be a snake or an alligator or it may be a busy street with lots of traffic and so I am going to block you from going into the street because I want to protect you.  Do you think that I would be a good door if I could protect you and keep you from getting harmed or injured?
  But I am also another kind of Door.  I can also be an Open Door.  Come, into this room.  In this room there is the adventure of new learning.  There is beauty and truth and books and a museum.  There is sports and exercise and dance and stories.  So I am an open door for you to learn new things that are good for you.
  But I am a closed door to protect you from going to the wrong places.  But I am also a closed door to keep the bad things outside from getting inside to hurt you.
  So now do you see why Jesus as the Good Shepherd said, I am the Sheep Gate and I am the Door.
  Jesus is the one who opens good things up for us but he is also the one who teaches to protect ourselves from the bad things which can hurt us.
  We all need to have moms and dads and teachers and gatekeepers in our lives.
  You too need to be good doors and gates.  Is that silly?  How and you be a good door?
  You can be a good door when you protect babies and animals from getting harmed or hurt.  You can be a good door when you take good care of younger babies and children and when you help them to learn new things in their lives.
  So now we understand the riddle of Jesus when he said that he was the Gate to the Sheepfold.
  We need people in our lives who are good gates and doors; people to protect us from wrong things but people who open up for us new learning.  We also need to be good gates and doors and we protect those who need protection and as we share our learning with those who need it.

  So remember these riddles about Jesus.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  Jesus is a good gate-keeper.  And on this day, remember that your mom is a good gate keeper too.  But please don’t say to her, “you’re the most beautiful door I’ve ever seen.”

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Emmaus Road: Peek A Boo, I See You

3 Easter a         May 4, 2014   
Acts 2:14a,36-47   Ps. 116:10-17
1 Peter 1:17-23    Luke 24:13-35              
   How many of you have ever played the game of “Peek-a-boo?”  It is one of the first game that we probably learned to play as a baby.
  We cover our face with our hands and then we suddenly take them away.  And say “Peek-a-boo”  I see you.
  Or we cover baby’s head with a blanket, and baby pulls the blanket off and we say, “Peek-a-boo.”
  What is the meaning of this game?  I pretend to be gone away and absent.  I pretend that you cannot see me.  And then I suddenly return by saying “Peek-a-boo.”
  When you are a young baby or a child, can you see and touch your mommy and daddy all of the time?
  No, they sleep in another room; they go to work.  They go into the kitchen.  You go to preschool or school.  So sometimes we cannot see or touch or hear our mommy and daddy.  But even though we do not see, or touch or hear them we know that they still live.  We know that at anytime they can surprise us when they come to be with us.
  And that is what our Gospel story is about.  When Jesus died, they put his body in the tomb.  And suddenly his body was gone from the tomb.
  And his disciples suddenly began to have peek-a-boo games with Jesus.  Suddenly Jesus would appear to them to let them know that they were okay and he was still alive.
  And now God still plays peek-a-boo with us.   Although we don’t actual see God or Jesus.  We still know his presence.
  In the love of our parents and friends, Christ is jumping out and saying “Peek-a-boo, I love you and I care for you.”  In the fun that we have, in learning, in seeing the beautiful world that God has made for us, God also has hidden his presence.  And God is saying to us, “Peek-a-boo, I see you….I love you and I care for you.”
  And you and I, are to be God messengers for the game of Peek-a-boo.  When we are loving and kind, when we care for one another and when we help each other, Christ is saying “Peek-a-boo” to this world through us.

  So even though we don’t see or touch Christ, let us remember that Christ is still present in many, many ways and he is ready to surprise us at anytime with love and care, and he is saying, “Peek-a-boo, I see you and I love you and I care for you.”  Amen.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cloning the Insides of Christ to Be Everywhere

Easter Sunday        April 20, 2014     
Acts 10:34-43  Psalm118:1-2,14-24
Colossians 3:1-4 Matthew 28:1-10

  Children do you know what imagination is?  Do you ever use your imagination?  Do you think that imagination was used to make Disney movies?  And to write books?  And to invent things?
  So today, I am going to ask you to join me in using our imaginations.  With our imaginations we can do magical things.  Did our first president George Washington drive a Cadillac?  No, he didn’t, but with our imagination we can pretend that he did.  And wouldn’t it be kind of funny to thing about George Washington driving a car among all of the other horseback riders and people in carriages pulled by horses?  We can do this with our imagination.
   I would like for us to imagine Jesus living in a home in Jerusalem.  But his home has also become his office.  It is his office and the sign on the door says, “Welcome to Jesus Ministries.”
  And when go into the office of Jesus, we see him sitting at a desk and there are lots of desks and with phones on each desk.  Jesus is talking on the phone.  He finishes one phone call and he has to take another phone call.  And his disciples are also taking phone calls.  And there are so many calls, they have to bring in people to answer the phone in the evening and throughout the night because phone calls are coming in from people who live around the world.
  And the disciples are getting worried.  They go to Jesus when he has a break and they say, “Jesus, there are too many people calling.  People are asking for all kinds of things.  A little girl needs some medicine.  And  a family does not have enough food, but they live too far away.  We cannot get the food to them.  And there is a sick man who wants to be healed, but he lives so far away.”
  Jesus said, “Yes, we have thousands and thousands of requests for help, but I am located here in Jerusalem.  I can only be here in one place at one time.”  One of the disciples said to Jesus, “How can we clone you Jesus?  Can we make a million copies of you?  And then one of your clones could be in places all over the world.  If we could clone millions of copies of you, you could be everywhere and then lots more people could get the help which they need.  Jesus what are you going to do about all of the problems of people in this world when you only live in Jerusalem?”
  Jesus said, “Well, I’ve got a plan.”
 So you know what happened?  Jesus went out on the street and he began to heal and preach good news.  He told the Romans citizens and the Jews they had to love for one another.  He told them that God was near to them and God was coming to them.  And you know what happened?  Jesus made the Romans and the religious people angry.  “What do you mean Jesus, that God’s kingdom is coming?  This is the Caesar’s kingdom or this is the kingdom of King David where someone great like David will come back and be a powerful king.”  So the people got so angry at Jesus for preaching about God’s kingdom.  They were worried that God’s kingdom would be a threat to the kingdom of the Emperor Caesar.  They were worried that this kingdom of God would not be another great military king like King David.
  So do you know what they did to Jesus?  They did not like his message about the kingdom of God’s love, so they put him to death on the cross.  And they thought that this was the end of Jesus.  They thought that Jesus would be gone forever.
  But you know what?  When the friends of Jesus went to the grave and tomb of Jesus, they found it empty.  And you know suddenly people saw Jesus popping up all over.  People suddenly saw him in Jerusalem.  And some saw him on the Emmaus road and on the same day some saw him way up north in Galilee, quite a distance from Jerusalem.
  And the disciples got together and they said, “This Jesus is really clever and he has found the perfect solution to the problem of so many people needing the help of Jesus.  When Jesus died, he has come back and he has had the life that was inside of his body cloned to go into the lives of us and many people.
  And since the insides of Jesus have been cloned and put inside the lives of millions and millions of people, the work of Jesus can get done all around the world.  Jesus is no longer limited to being in just one body in Jerusalem; now Jesus can be the risen Christ in the lives of people everywhere.
  And you know what?  The insides of Jesus have been cloned and is inside us too.  I see it in you.  I look at Wes, and Jackson and Cole and I see Christ is risen and in them.  I look in your eyes and I can see the risen Christ in you and I know that your hands perform the works of kindness and love that allows Christ to do so much in this world now that he is not just limited to the one body of Jesus in his Jerusalem office.
  I look at you and I know that Christ is alive; I know that Christ has risen from the death and I know that the life that was inside of Jesus, his Spirit, has become cloned and is in you and me.
  Isn’t that wonderful?  To know that Jesus is not limited to just one time or place but that the risen Christ can now be everywhere.
  Let me hear you say, “Alleluia.”  Can’t hear you.  Christ is Risen!  Can you say that?  Now say, “Christ is risen, in me!”  Can you say, “Christ is risen in you!”  Now can you say?  I am a Christ-clone.  Because the Spirit of Christ is alive and well in me.  Amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baptismal Sermon at the Great Vigil: God loves you! Deal with it!

Easter Vigil         April 19, 2014
Ex.14:10 Canticle 8, Ez  36:24-28 Psalm 42:1-7
Rom.6:3-11         Luke 24:1-12

  Tonight we are gathered to celebrate something wonderful about grace.  The most wonderful thing about grace is that you and I don’t have any choice about it being offered to us.  Grace is given to us whether we want it or not. 
  And so Peter and Payton are here tonight to be initiated into God’s wonderful grace.  They like us do not have any choice about Grace being offered and given to them.
  Peter and Payton do not have any choice tonight about being loved.  Their parents, grandparents and family and friends have and will continue to love them.  They have no choice about that.  They may grow up and try to resist this love and grace but they can never take it away nor can they deny that it has been given to them.
  Tonight baptism at the Easter Vigil expresses the grace of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This grace has been known by all of us. This grace that has already come to Payton and Peter in the love of their parents, grandparents, family and friends.  The grace of the resurrection of Christ   is expressed in the lives of the people who are letting themselves be the hearts, the hands, the feet of the risen Christ tonight.
  Jesus did not remain in a tomb; Christ rose and entered and energized the countless numbers of people.  Christ has taken us over to the point of we cannot help but be expressions of the love and grace of Christ toward Payton and Peter and towards each other and towards even our enemies.
  This is the living Gospel of the resurrection of Christ.  We are to be the living proof of the resurrection of Christ in how we offer active grace and love to Peter and Payton and to everyone tonight.
  We, church are gathered tonight, to confess to Peter and Payton and to the entire world:   People, you have no choice; you are loved, by God and by us, even in our fumbling and feeble efforts to do so.  No, we are not perfect in our love but we are perfect in having the heart of the risen Jesus Christ within us to inspire us always to be at the work of loving better.
  A major reason why we baptize babies and children and people of any age is this: People you do not have any choice about these fact.  God loves you.  God cares for you.  God forgives you.  God gives you many wonderful gifts to develop.  And when you finish your life in your body, God is going to give you eternal life.  Folks, just accept it.  You don’t have any choice about whether God loves you.  Deal with it.
  Lots of religions over-emphasize the human choice in choosing baptism or faith or religion.  If someone offers me a million bucks, am I to be profusely congratulated for graciously deciding to take the million bucks?  “O, Phil you are so wonderful for graciously deciding to take the million bucks.”  Absurd right?  What is marvelous is the generosity of the giver and not the minor event of my decision to take the money.
  That is the nature of God’s love and grace for Peter and Payton tonight and for you and me and for all of the people of this world.
  We have the privilege of receiving this generous grace and love and we as the church have the responsibility not to make this grace and love look bad because of the way in which we live.  We are called tonight to be the very proof and evidence of the resurrection of Christ.
  Can you say, “Alleluia, Christ is Risen?”  And now say, “He’s risen in Me!”  Can we also be fully committed to let this resurrection life of Christ in us be grace and love to Payton and Peter and to all whom God would bring into our lives?
  Alleluia!  Christ is Risen in You!  And in Peter.  And in Payton.  Let us rejoice that we have no choice about whether this resurrection power and grace and love is given to us.  But let us humbly accept it and be conduits for the grace, the love and the power of Christ tonight.  Happy Easter to you!  I can see Easter shining in your eyes tonight.  Amen. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We Become the Words that Form Us; A Baptismal Sermon on Prevenient Grace

13 Pentecost, Cp15,August 18, 2013
Jeremiah 23:23-29  Psalm 82
Hebrews 12:1 – 14  Luke 12:49-56

  Everyone take a deep breath?  Why do we breathe?  We need oxygen to live.  We take it into our lungs and it goes into our blood and carried throughout our body.  So air becomes us when we breathe.
  Why do we eat and drink?  We need food and drink to run our bodies just like a car needs gas to run.
  When we eat and drink, food and water become us.  So if you’ve eaten lots of pizza, how come you don’t look like a pizza? 
  Well, pizza gets changed into energy; pizza has sugar, fats, carbohydrates and protein and these are the kinds of fuel that we need to make our bodies healthy.
  So we become our breath and we become our food and drink.
  Do you know what else we become?
  We become our words.
  We don’t eat or drink words.  We don’t breathe words but we do hear words and we read words.
  And words go inside us  and they make and they form us.  We become words.  Words educate us and teach us.  Words take over our bodies because our bodies speak a language through our actions.  If I hit you with my fist, what is my body saying to you?  If I hug you or smile at you what is my body saying to you?
  Today, we are baptizing Hailey and we are promising to help form her life by the words that we give to her.  The words that we give to Hailey will become her.  So it is very important that we give Hailey our very best words because we want to help her become the very best person that she can become.
  What good words are we giving to Hailey today?  First we are telling her that God loves her and cares for her and so we are going to love and care for her too.  We are telling her that God forgives her so that she does not have to be perfect from the start of her life.  We are telling her that God has given her some very special gifts that she can develop and when she finds her gifts she will help make us better.  We are telling her that her life has special meaning and purpose.  We are telling her that she has freedom and that she can choose many wonderful things in life.
  Hailey can not understand all words yet but she can already understand the body language of the people who care for her.  She can see their smiles; she can feel their touch; she can know that people who love her are giving her food and bathing her and protecting her.  Hailey is already receiving the good body language of the people in her life.
  So do you see how Hailey is becoming the words that she comes to hear and take in?
  You and I are the words that we take in.  We need to take in good words so that we give out good words to Hailey and to each other so that we help each other perform the best body language of all.  The language of love and care for each other.
  So this is what we’re doing today.  We are promising to give Hailey and each other the best words in life.  Why?  Because we become the words of our lives and we want to become the very best words of life.  And we become the very best words in life when practice love and kindness and care.
  Let us say together: Hailey, we give you our very best words today.

We give you love.  We give you kindness.  We give you care.  Welcome to the family of Christ.  Amen.