Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Greatest of These Is Love

The Greatest of These Is Love
Ordinary 4
I Corinthians 13:1-13

Good morning, boys and girls!  There is a story I read on the Internet that I'd like to share with you this morning.  It goes like this...

There was an anthropologist who had been studying the life and customs of a tribe of people in Africa.  He worked for months and months.  Finally, he was ready to go home and compile all of what he had learned into a book.  He had some extra time before leaving for the airport, so he suggested a game to a group of children who were there to say "Good-bye."

The scientist took a basket and filled it with fruit.  He put the basket of fruit under a tree about 50 yards from where the children were gathered.  He went back to the group and drew a line on the ground.  He explained that they should wait behind the line for his signal.  When he said, "Go!" they should all run to the basket.  Whoever got there first would win the fruit.

The man said, "On your marks, get set, Go!"

At the signal, "Go!" all the boys and girls held each others' hands and ran off toward the basket together.  When they all arrived at the same time, they shared the sweet fruit.

The anthropologist was super surprised.  "Why did you all run together, when one of you could have won all of the fruit?" he asked.

A young girl answered, "How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?"

The Bible tells us that love is the greatest gift of all.  The African children in the story understood that lesson and taught it to the anthropologist!

Let us Pray:
Dear God, We know that all good gifts come from you, and the greatest gift is love.  Help us to love one another as you have loved us.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Body of Christ

The Body of Christ
Epiphany 3C
January 27, 3013
I Corinthians 12:12-31
Prop: A bag filled with various types of shoes

Good morning, girls and boys!  I brought something with me to show you this morning.  Let me see now...(pull one shoe out of the bag, and converse something like this, tailoring your banter for the types of footwear you have in your bag).  Who can tell me what this is?  It's a shoe, that's right!  What kind of shoe?  It's a sneaker, right.  When would you wear a shoe like this one?  Most of the time, right?  You might wear it to school, or to the mall, or to a casual restaurant.  This is probably your every day shoe.

Let's see what else is in my bag here.  (Pull out a shoe very different in purpose from the first.)  Who can tell me what this is?  It's a roller skate!  When would you wear this shoe?  When you want to go roller skating, of course!  Would you wear this shoe to school or to the mall or out to dinner?  Probably not.  And would you wear the sneaker to roller skate?  It wouldn't work very well, would it.

Here's another's a flip-flop.  These you wear at the beach or in warm weather.  You couldn't wear this flip-flop roller skating, either.  And you probably wouldn't wear it in the snow.  Your toes would get awfully cold!

And here we have a what?  A snow boot, that's right!

(You get the idea.  Go through 5-6 various types of shoes.  Emphasize that they each have a different purpose.  Finally, when you feel it's time to make the Big Point...)

So, each one of these shoes is different from the other.  Each shoe has its own purpose and is used for different things.  And yet they all have something in common...they are all shoes!  They all protect your feet while you're doing whatever you do, whether going to school or roller skating or walking to the beach (etc.).

Well, would you believe that the Church is like this bag of shoes?  Each person in the church has his or her own purpose.  We are each blessed with different gifts that we can use in God's work to help make the Church strong.  Some of us are wonderful singers, some are terrific leaders.  Some of us know when someone is feeling down and needs a hug or a word of encouragement.  Some of us are teachers, some of us are students, some of us make delicious cookies, some of us love to eat!  We have folks who are good at math and can keep track of the church spending.  Some like to clean and help keep the church spic and span.  Some of us can smile in a way that makes all the rest of us feel the light of God in our souls. 

God has made each one of us different, and yet we are all Christians.  We all believe in God and love Jesus.  We all are living as Jesus' disciples.

We are all different so that together we can build the body of Christ, because if we were all the same, there would be a lot of work that would never get done around here!  Wasn't God clever to create such a great system?

Let's Pray:

Dear God, We thank-you that we have shoes for our feet, and pray for those who do not.  We thank-you for making us the Body of Christ.  Help us to carry out our role to the best of our ability.  In the name of Jesus, the head of the Church, we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Wedding at Cana

Ordinary 2
The Wedding at Cana
Scripture: John 2:1-11

Birthday parties are lots of fun, aren’t they?  Sometimes birthday parties are held at a person’s home, and sometimes the party is someplace like a roller skating rink, a bowling alley, a zoo, a park or even McDonald’s.  Most birthday parties have balloons, some have games, but every birthday party I have ever been to has a cake or cupcakes, which are really just little cakes, right?  Besides the birthday boy or girl, the cake is the central highlight of the party!  It’s when everyone sings “Happy Birthday,” and the person of the day gets to make a wish and blow out the candles!  And every guest’s eyes light up when he or she is handed a piece to eat.  Yum!  Can you imagine a birthday party where they run out of cake?  That would be disastrous!!

One time, Jesus was a guest at a wedding.  His disciples and Mary, his mother, were also at the wedding.  Well, during the party after the ceremony, they ran out of wine.  A wedding without wine was like a birthday party without cake!  It was a disaster!  The host would be terribly embarrassed, and be known from that moment on as the one who didn’t buy enough wine for his daughter’s wedding.

Mary felt sorry for the host and didn’t want him to be embarrassed in front of all his friends and family.  She told Jesus, “They have run out of wine,” as if she expected him to do something about it.  Jesus told his mother, “I’m not ready.”  But Mary had more confidence in Jesus than he seemed to have in himself.   (Moms are like that.)  She told the servers to do whatever Jesus told them to do.

Nearby were standing six stone water jars—big things, about this tall (show about 3 feet with your hands).  Jesus told the servers to fill the jars with water, which they did.  Then he said, “Draw some out of one of the jars and take it to your boss, the head server.”  When the boss tasted the water, it had turned to wine—the best wine of the party!  He was impressed, and the party was saved.

This was the first miracle that Jesus performed.  It was not the most important or impressive miracle, but it was the first.

Let’s Pray.  Dear God, we thank-you that Mary believed in Jesus and encouraged him to begin his ministry at the Wedding at Cana.  Help us to be bold disciples.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Baptism of Jesus

The Baptism of Jesus
January 13, 2013
Luke 3:15-17, 21, 22
Prop: Your church's baptismal font, filled with water

Good morning, boys and girls!  (Show the font.)  If you have ever seen this before, please raise your hand.  This is called the baptismal font.  Font.  That's a funny word, isn't it?  We don't hear it very often.  It means receptacle, or container.  Let's all say it together, OK?  Font.

A receptacle, or font, usually contains something in it.  The baptismal font holds water, and we use it when we baptize people.  If you were baptised in this church, then this font was used during your baptism!

Jesus was baptised just before he started his teaching ministry.  The font that was used when Jesus was baptised was not a small receptacle--he was baptised in the Jordan River!  And the person who baptized Jesus was his cousin, John.

Before Jesus was baptized, people wondered if maybe John was the Messiah God had promised.  But John was quick to set the record straight.  He told the people, "I baptize with water, as a symbol, but one who is more powerful than I is coming.  I am not worthy to untie his sandals!  He will baptize you with the real thing--God's Holy Spirit."

Jesus went to his cousin John at the Jordan River and asked to be baptized.  John lowered Jesus into the water and said a prayer.  The Bible tells us that then heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit came down like a dove.  And a voice came from God, saying, "You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am very happy."

With that, Jesus was ready to begin his ministry.

Let's Pray:  Dear God, We thank-you for faithful people like John, and like Jesus.  Help us to be faithful, too.  In Jesus' name, Amen.