Monday, December 3, 2018

Happy New Year!

A Story for the First Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 9: 2-7
A party blower

Begin by blowing loud and long on the party blower, then shout, " HAPPY NEW YEAR!!"  The children will inevitably look confused and ask what you're talking about.  Play with this a little while, then go on with the story.

So, today isn't New Year's?  When do we usually celebrate the new year?  January 1, that's right.  But did you know there are people in different parts of the world who celebrate the new year at various times?  Chinese New Year begins on February 5, 2019, and the party goes on until February 19th!  Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah, and was celebrated last September 9-11.

The Christian Church divides the year up into seasons.  The Christian year begins with the season of Advent, which starts with the 4th Sunday before Christmas.  Advent is a season of preparation as we get ready for Jesus' coming into the world.  In fact, Advent means "coming" or "arrival."  Today is the First Sunday in Advent, so this is the first day of the Christian year.  So again, I say (toot party blower), "Happy New Year!"

Each season of the church year is assigned its own special color.  The color for Advent is purple (or blue--say whichever your church uses), a color associated with kings and royalty.  We light special candles during Advent to help us mark the time leading up to Jesus' birth at Christmas.  We also think about our lives and what we might do to become more faithful followers of Christ.  So, even as we get ready for Christmas by decorating our homes, baking special treats and buying gifts, the most important thing we need to do is to ready our hearts for the amazing gift of God's love at Christmas.  Let's start that preparation by praying together now.

You may wish to offer this as an echo prayer, inviting the children to repeat after you.
Loving God,
We thank you for sending Jesus into our world
to show us just how much you love us.
May we start this new Christian year
by seeking to share the love and kindness of Jesus
each and every day.

Before you go, I have something for each of you.  (Pass out a party blower to each child.)  Now on the count of 3, blow your horn and shout "Happy New Year!" together, ok?  The congregation is welcome to join in the shouting.  One, two, three...(toot horn)...Happy New Year!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Advent 2018

Do you remember the paper chains we used to make as kids?  Well, they are not simply for decoration any more.  They also, when printed with suggested activities and thought-provoking questions, make effective and meaningful Advent calendars.  We are making these in Sunday school this week, the First Sunday in Advent.  They would also be great for an Advent workshop or family night.  These are easy and fun to make.  I've done the hard part--coming up with an idea for each day!

Here are the sheets for you to print.  If your church has special events during the month, you may want to include these in the Advent chain.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Keep On Learning

Ephesians 3:14-19

Any date can be used in this message.  The needed statistics and facts may be found by searching your date on  

Good morning, boys and girls!  Today is August 5.  Some pretty important things happened in different years on August 5.  Let me share with you just a few of them:

  • In 1858, the first transatlantic telegraph cable was completed by Mr. Cyrus W. Field
  • In 1861, the U.S. levies its first Income Tax
  • On August 5, 1884 the cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty was laid
  • In 1921, baseball was first broadcast on the radio (Pirates-8; Phillies-0)
  • In 1057 American Bandstand first aired on network TV
  • In 1969 the Mariner 7 spacecraft flies past Mars, and finally,
  • I was born on August 5!
I'm not going to tell you in which year I was born, but I can tell you that I am 22,645 days old.  I have been alive for 543,480 hours, or 32,608,800 minutes.  I have spent 21 years of my life sleeping.

All this is to say that I have been around for quite a long time.  

Now, guess what I'm doing at the end of this month.  I'm going to band camp!  At band camp, I will sleep in a bunk bed, eat in a dining hall, but most important, I will learn how to play my flute better.  And next month, I am going to go to a Leadership Institute to learn how to become a better pastor, and hopefully pick up some ideas that will help us all to grow into a better church as well.

I'm sure there are some days that you are kind of tired of school.  But you know what?  There is so much to know in this world that we need to keep open to learning our entire lives--whether we go to classes and seminars or read books or engage in interesting conversations with other people, God wants us to keep on learning even when we are finished with school.  This is also true with studying the Bible.  Even if you read the entire book from cover-to-cover, you will discover new things about God and your relationship with God each time you look at a passage.

Prayer:  All-knowing God, may we always be curious and eager to learn about your world and our place in it, about you and your love for us, about how we might serve you better each day.  Amen.