Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bless the Lord

Sunday, October 20, 2012
Proper B24
Psalm 104
Props: Photos or slides of natural beauty

The world is a pretty amazing place, when you think about it.  There are so many different kinds of landscapes, like mountains that reach way high into the sky, and deep valleys that plunge deep into the earth.  There are vast oceans dotted with tiny islands, damp rain forests and dry deserts, flat plains with rich soil, mucky swamps and sandy beaches.

There are so many different kinds of plants in the world, too--from towering redwood trees to plants so small it takes a microscope to see them.  There are colorful flowers of every shape and size, straight grasses, round bushes, spreading trees and creeping ground covers.  There are splendid orchids that need special care to flower, and weeds like dandelions that will grow just about anywhere. 

There are so many different kinds of animals in the world!  Dogs and cats.  Fish and birds.  African animals like lions and zebras, giraffes, meerkats and an animal called the naked mole rat!  There are Australian animals like kangaroos, koala bears, rainbow lorikeets, dingo dogs and wombats.  In Asia there are animals like the Asia elephant, blow fish, cobra snakes, giant pandas and yaks.  Central American animals include anaconda snakes, beautiful, blue morpho butterflies, toucan birds, pumas, tarantulas and tree frogs.  I think you get the idea.  There are more different kinds of animals in the world than I would ever be able to count! 

A person doesn't have to be out in the country or the wilderness to see natural wonders, either.  You can see bits of nature in even the most crowded city.  You might go to a park and play on the grass or rest under the shade of a tree.  You might see a dandelion or other plant growing through a crack in the sidewalk.  You can see hawks flying around the tall buildings of New York City, as well as pigeons and other birds.

Natural beauty is everywhere, including in the person sitting next to you.  You are a wonder of nature yourself!  For the beauty of nature all around us, we give thanks to God, the Creator.  It is God who gives us these gifts of land, sea, plant, animal and people.  Thanks be to God!

As a way of thanking God for the gift of Creation, I want you to think about your favorite type of animal--adults and children--are you thinking of an animal?  OK, now on the count of three, I want us all to say together, "Thank-you, God, for..." and then make the sound your favorite animal makes, OK?  One, two, three!  "Thank-you, God, for........"  AMEN!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Job and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Sunday, October 14, 2012
Proper 23B
Job 23:1-17
Prop: A copy of Judith Viorst's book (optional)

The book could simply be read as the children's sermon, if desired.  Below, however, is a way to use reference to the story without actually reading the book word-for-word.

An author named Judith Viorst wrote a book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Perhap you've read it!  It is one of my all-time favorites.  It starts like this:

Alexander is speaking:

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mystake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

At breakfast Anthony found a Corvette Sting Ray car kit in his breakfast cereal box and Nick found a Junior Undercover Agent code ring in his breakfast cereal box but in my breakfast cereal box all I found was breakfast cereal.

I think I'll move to Australia.

Next, it's time for Alexander to go to school, and things don't go any better.  He's forced to sit in the middle seat in the back in the car pool, and even when he complains about being scrunched and smushed and feeling carsick, no one answers him. 

Once he gets to school, Alexander's day still doesn't improve.  His teacher doesn't like his picture of the invisible castle.  He sings too loud.  He misses the number sixteen when counting.  Alexander could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

He gets in a fight with his friends, and his mom forgot to put dessert in his lunch box.

After school, Alexander and his brothers has an appointment at the dentist.  Guess who is the only one with a cavity.  That's right...Alexander.  Dr. Fields tells them to come back next week, and he will fix it.  Alexander says, "Next week, I'm going to Australia."

Well, poor Alexander's day goes from bad to worse.  He gets into a fight with his brothers and even though they start it, Alexander is the one to get in trouble.  They pick up his dad at his office, where Alexander knocks a big pile of books off the desk.

Back at home, there are lima beans for dinner and Alexander hates lima beans.  There is kissing on TV and he hates kissing.  His bath is too hot, he gets soap in his eyes, his marble goes down the drain, and he has to wear the pajamas he hates.

The book ends like this...

When I went to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep and the Mickey Mouse night iight burned out and I bit my tongue.

The cat wants to sleep with Anthony, not with me.

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

My mom says some days are like that.

Even in Australia.

All of us have experienced terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, just like Alexander.  Sometimes we have a string of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days when it just seems that nothing goes right.  And sometimes our worries are bigger than biting our tongue or having to eat lima beans.  Sometimes it feels, as I think it did to Alexander, like no one is listening to our complaints.  But I am here to tell you that there is one person who is always ready to person who always cares about how we are feeling.  That person is God.  You can always bring your troubles to God, and know that God hears you, no matter where you are.  Even in Australia.

Let's talk with God in prayer now.

Dear God, We thank you for always being with us, always caring about us and listening to us.  Help us to see that we are not alone.  On good days and on bad, you are our God.  We are your children.  Thank-you, Lord.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012
World Communion Sunday
Psalm 8
Props: Flags or photos of flags from Mexico, Japan, Great Britain, Democratic Republic of the Congo and your own nation, and the Christian Flag

Good morning, everybody!  Today I want to show you pictures of several national flags.  First, there’s this one.  This is the flag of Mexico.  I like the bold colors in Mexico’s flag.  And this white one with the red circle in the middle—this is Japan’s flag.  The red circle represents the sun.  This is Great Britain’s flag.  It is called the Union Flag, or Union Jack, because the design is a combination of three flags in one—the flags of Scotland, Ireland and England.  Here is a picture of the flag from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  This is a new flag design that has only been used by the country since 2006.  The gold star stands for “the light of civilization.”  And finally, here is a flag you might recognize right away. 


This is the flag of your country—our nation’s flag, right?  You see our flag flying outside of schools, post offices, court houses, city hall, in front of some people’s homes, at gas stations, in public parks—lots of places, right?  And if you were to go to Mexico, or Japan, or Great Britain or the Congo, you would see the flags of those countries flying, too.


Each of these flags represents a different country.  Right now, there are 242 countries in the world.  That means there are 242 national flags.  People often feel very strongly about their national flag because it reminds them of their country, their homeland. 


There is another flag that brings together people from all different countries.  It looks like this.  It is the Christian flag.  People from all over the world claim the Christian flag as their own.  What brings us all together under this flag is our love for Jesus, and our wish to serve Him.  There is even a pledge to the Christian flag.  It goes like this:

"I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag
and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands.
One community, uniting all humankind,
in service and love."

Today is a special day in the life of the Church called World Communion Sunday.  Today we pay special attention to the unity that Christians all over the world share.  We all love Jesus and wish to serve Him.  The love of Christ brings us together, not matter where we live, no matter which national flag we wave, no matter what country we are from.  Thanks be to God!

(If your church does not participate in World Communion Sunday, you can skip the above paragraph.)

I’d like to close our time this morning by saying together the Pledge to the Christian Flag.  Will you please repeat after me?

I pledge allegiance

to the Christian Flag

and to the Savior

for whose kingdom it stands.

One community,

uniting all humankind

in service and in love.  Amen.