Children’s Sermon: We Can All Do One Little Thing

Bring a giant Shriver’s balloon and some salt taffy.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So I brought something with me today that is ridiculous. It’s…this! Share the giant balloon that is an eight foot tall salt water taffy. Let’s see how big this is. Compare it to the kids. Show how tall it is. Try not to knock over anything on the altar.

This is…gigantic. And it’s from a candy store in Ocean City New Jersey. Every night during the summer at 8 pm, the store gives out these giant balloons to kids. Kids line up to get them and then spend the rest of the night walking down the boardwalk carrying these HUUGGEEE balloons. It’s fun to see all the kids carrying them, playing with them, and celebrating these giant balloons.

Why do you think this candy company, Shriver’s, gives out these balloons? Accept answers.

I think they give them out for a few reasons. One, because they’re so big, they’re easy to see and they advertise the company. They hope people will see them and come to their store and buy their products. I also think they give them out because they like seeing the joy kids and adults have when they see something so big, so large, and so ridiculous. And they also, I think, represent something we might like to have – a giant piece of candy that’s bigger than us, that we can safely eat, and since this is pretend – we also pretend that we can eat this whole thing in one sitting, and not ruin our teeth, our appetite, our gain too much weight. These ridiculous giant taffy’s invite us to imagine a different kind of world where something ridiculous and fun brings us – and so many kids and adults – joy and fun.

Now, is it easy to carry this balloon around? No. Try it! Imagine trying to carry this around…all the time. It’s hard! You can’t get into the car easily. You can’t get into church easily. And if you carried this back to your pews, it wouldn’t fit very well with you. It feels impossible to have this in our life – because even though it’s fun – it doesn’t feel very practical.

In one of our readings today, from the book attributed to a guy named James, we’re going to start hearing some teachings that sound like they make sense and are good to do – but are sometimes not going to feel practical. We’re going to hear that we should always listen, not to speak until we listen first, and not get too angry too fast. We’re going to be invited to care for widows and orphans – which is God’s way of telling us to notice the people who are hurting, who don’t have much, and who we might not always see and that we should take care of them. James is going to invite us to imagine the world as a place where all people are fed, taken care of, and can become the people God wants them to be. And that’s going to sound great – and holy – and amazing – but…might not seem practical. God’s vision of the world is going to seem like this…giant balloon – fun, amazing, something to hope for, but not practical. Because how can we do all the things God asks us to do? It seems impossible to take care of all people, to listen to everyone, and to just…always love, no matter what. It seems like we sometimes can’t do that.

But James knows something that we sometimes forget. That, since we are Christians, and since we are baptized, and since Jesus is with us all the time – we get to do different and amazing and sometimes ridiculous things. It might seem impossible to take care of everyone – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And we do that by trying to do one thing: to be kind when we don’t want to; to listen to others when we first feel like we want to talk first; to notice the people who don’t have what we have and try to help them; to do one small thing. Because we can all do one small thing to love God, love our family, love our friends, and love our neights. And that one thing, (show the real salt water taffy that you have) while it feels small, can be just as sweet. Pass out salt water taffy to the kids that can have it.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, 9/2/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Rules of the Game

Bring a board game!

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So I have something with me today – what is it? Looks like a game! Right! This is a game. It’s a board game that teenagers and adults can play. It’s called go through the game and show the box to the kids.

Now, when we have a game – and we want to know how to play it – we need to find something. What do we need to find? The instructions! That’s right. The instructions. And here are the instructions for this game. Go through the instructions – not describing how to play the game but different things the game gives us.

These instructions help us play the game the way the creator of the game intended. They’re a list of rules that help us enjoy the game and have fun. When we, together, follow the instructions – we all can have fun even if we don’t win.

Instructions aren’t necessarily easy. And they are sometimes hard to understand. We need to make sure we can read them, have the pieces we need, and can follow along. Some instructions are simple – others are complex. Instructions can be difficult – but they’re helpful for us to play the game the way the Creator intended.

Today, we’re going to hear in our readings from the bible that will sound like a list of instructions. And they’re not always easy to understand or follow. Yet we have to remember that because God loves us and Jesus is with us always, God gives us instructions to help all people experience God’s love. God’s instructions are away to help each other, take care of each other, be kind to each other, and more.

There might be time when we get an instruction that we might not understand. Or an instructions that feels like it doesn’t really work for us where we live. And that’s okay. God wants us to listen to these words, to read these instructions, and struggle to see if they help us to love each other. They might – or they might not. But God knows that when we gather together to figure these instructions out, when we pray and worship and share communion together, and when we bring a whole church of people together to figure this out – a church full of different people and different backgrounds and different experiences – the Holy Spirit will let us know how we can love each other the way God wants us to. Because love – the love we see as modeled and experiences and given to us through Jesus Christ – that’s our main instruction – and when we can love like that, we live the way God, the creator of everything, wants us too.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/19/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Manna

Bring the Dr. Seuss book “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” and a Cat in the Hat hat if you can

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So today I want to talk about an ancient Hebrew word we’ll hear today in our story about Jesus and to do that, I brought this: show Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!

We’re not going to be able to read the entire book today so if you’ve never read it, I invite you to bug your parents to take you to the library so you can get your own copy and read it. It’s a book by Dr. Seuss who wrote all sorts of books, including The Cat in the Hat. Dr. Seuss was an artist and a writer and he loved making up words. Let’s look at a few made up words in this book.

Go through and find some of the made up words for creatures, etc. Share them and invite the kids to imagine what those words are.

When we read books, especially Dr. Seuss, we get to use our imagination. We get to paint pictures in our heads of amazing things that we’ve never seen before or maybe that don’t exist. We get to dream up…anything. And we get to look at this brand new thing we dreamed up, maybe draw it, and share it with our family and friends – and get them to look at it and ask “what is it?”

Today, in our story about Jesus and in our very first scripture reading, we’re going to hear about God feeding God’s people through something called manna. Manna is an ancient Hebrew word – so why don’t we learn it? Can you say manna with me? Manna! Very good. The story goes that God’s people, the Israelites, after they escaped slavery in Egypt were wandering around a desert for 40 years. And there’s not a lot of food that grows in the desert. They start to get hungry and they do what we all do when we’re hungry – they start to complain. God listens to their complaining and says “okay. I’m going to give you bread – bread of my own making. All you have to do is, in the morning, go away from your camp into the fields, and you’ll see bread…everywhere.”

So that’s what the Israelites do. They wake up, go out into the fields, and they see something they’ve never seen before. It doesn’t look like bread…but it’s everywhere. And they don’t have a name for it. So they think, and think, and think and decide to call what they see – Manna – which literally means “what is it?” And that’s what God feeds them – with this amazing substance that we call bread but is so strange and different and wonderful, we have no real word to describe it. Rather, it’s something that God gives us, that feeds us, and all we can say call it is “what is it” – because we have no words to really describe it.

In all our lives, there will be moments when God will show up to us in a way that we didn’t expect. It might be in a vision – where we see something amazing – or it might be in the way someone takes care of us. God might show up to us when a friend is kind to us or when a stranger just seems to say and do the exact thing we need to be safe and loved. God shows up in amazing ways – in ways we can’t alway understand – and in ways we can’t always explain. But when God does show up, we are fed – we feel full, feel love, feel like we matter. And God does that for us through Jesus Christ every single day.

So when that love shows up – when you feel God in your life – you might not know what to call it – but there’s an ancient word we can use when we encounter the indescribable love of God – and that’s manna.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, 8/5/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Christmas in July is…Absurd. But it matters!

It’s Christmas in July! Bring the book: what Santa can’t do

I’m very glad to see you today.

So today is July 29 but all the songs we’re singing today are Christmas songs. Now that might feel a little weird to be singing Christmas songs when it’s hot, we’re wearing shorts, and we want to be at the beach instead of staying at home. For us, Christmas is usually a thing we do in December. It’s not something for July. But maybe it should be. And that god me thinking about a Christmas book my kids like and i thought I’d read it with you. It’s What Santa Can’t Do.

Read through the book.

We sometimes act as if Christmas only comes once a year and that there’s a specific way that Christmas is handled. But Christmas is more than trees and ornaments and Santa and presents. Christmas is the story of how God came into our world to live our life, to be like us, and to do everything he could to help us know just how much God loves us and the world. And that matters to us everyday. Which means, in the church and in our faith, everyday is Christmas. Everyday is Easter. Everyday is Good Friday. And everyday is also when Jesus was just hanging out with his friends, eating and drinking, and showing them a little bit about what living with God is all about. We might only celebrate parts of Jesus’ story one day or season a year. But his entire story makes a difference for us everyday because Jesus loves you, is with you, and will always be there for you.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/29/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Prayer is a Spiritual Gift we all can do!

Bring the stones you got from the NJ Synod day – the left over ones with names on them.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So I brought with me today a cup full of these. What do you see? Rocks. Jesus is written on one side. Someone’s name is written on the other. Right these rocks have two names on them. Now, if you look at the Jesus side for all the rocks – all the handwriting looks the same. But when you flip them over, and you see the names, does the handwriting look the same? Nope. Right! All these rocks have Jesus on one side – but the names on the other side are all different. And that’s because these rocks come from different people.

When I was in Houston at the ELCA Youth Gathering, we had a day where all of New Jersey spent time in a long (and interactive) worship service. Part of that worship involved these rocks. Even though we were all from different parts of New Jersey, going to different schools, and having different families and backgrounds, we are all connected to each other in Jesus. Jesus unites us. Jesus makes us one. Jesus makes us all family. So we wrote our names on these rocks, put them in a big pile, and saw how connected to each other we are. All of us are different, we are all unique, and Jesus loves that we are different. But we are also connected to Jesus – and that makes us similar to each other. And that also means we’re called to care for each other.

Now there are different ways we can care for each other. But one of the important ways we can is through a gift – a talent – an ability – God gives us. And that’s prayer. We can pray for each other. We can give thanks to God when something goes well for the people around us and also tell God to take care of people when they are hurt. Pray is a powerful gift. It’s real. It makes a difference. And that’s why we do it.

So these rocks, with all these names, were supposed to be picked up by people. Each person was supposed to take a rock with someone else’s name on it and pray for that person. But not everyone picked up a rock. These were the ones left over. So I’m going to give each of you – and anyone else here – a job. Take one of these rocks. Read the name on it. Give the rock to your parents. And then, when you say your prayers today, make sure to pray for this person. Just say “God, keep loving this person.” And know that God will love them – and God loves you too.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/22/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Gifts – What we get from God to give to God’s people and world

Bring stuff you got from the ELCA Youth Gathering. Bring the Spiritual gifts scorecard and questions.

Hi everyone!

So two weeks ago, I went to this really cool event down in Houston, TX called the ELCA Youth Gathering. It’s this amazing thing that happens every 3 years. High school students from all over our denomination, the group of churches that we are also a part of, get together for more than 3 days of service, activities, worship, and fun. I went with Coleen and Brendan – and 31,000 people from all 50 states, 8 countries, and other territories that make up the ELCA. Now 31,000 is a lot of people. It’s really hard to get to know that many people. But one way we try to is by giving little…gifts. And these gifts look like these. Show all the buttons, etc. We trade them, learn where each other is from, and celebrate that there are Lutherans all over the place. There are lots of youth and families and people who go to a church just like this one. And we all worship and celebrate a God who loves us each and every day. Attending the ELCA youth Gathering is a real gift – just like all these little things are gifts too.

So to continue that theme about gifts – the gifts we can give each other and the gifts God gives us – we’re going to spend the next few weeks talking about our spiritual gifts. Now spiritual gifts are special talents and abilities that God gives us to help us serve, care, and take care of the church and each other. Spiritual gifts are things we can do well that we use within the church to serve Jesus and help tell others about his story. So each week, your parents will get a sheet like this. And it has questions to answer. And based on your answers, you’ll get a number – your score. The score doesn’t help you win anything – it just tells you what gift you might be better at. If you want, you should try to answer them too. They’ll cover all kinds of topics – some that you are good at and some that you aren’t. You might answer some questions and get a low score – and that’s okay. God doesn’t give us every talent and ability. We only are given a select few because God knows that the gifts were given are gifts this church and this world needs. So we’ll spend time looking at our spiritual gifts, discovering them, talking about them, and hopefully sharing them with each other. Because this church is bigger than just one person. This church needs you.and me…and you,land you…and everyone so that we can love, and serve, and follow Jesus in everything that we say and do.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, 7/15/2018.

Children’s Sermon: BLESS

Bring several different kinds of stuffed animals (hopefully 1 for each kid). Make sure they’re the kind of animals not typically brought to a blessing of the animals event.
Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So today is a fun day because we’re worshipping in a new space (the fellowship hall) and we’re surrounded by….animals! Describe all the different animals that you see. They’re here for a very special reason. They’re here because we’re going to bless them.

It’s a bit of an odd thing to bless something. We don’t do that all the time. We usually only do it when someone sneezes. They’ll sneeze Ah-choo! And we’ll sometimes tell them God Bless You. And that’s a blessing. It’s a strange blessing but it’s one of the few times in our daily life when we’ll say the word “bless.” But we don’t have to only use the word bless when we sneeze. In fact, God invites us to bless everything.

Because a blessing is three things. A blessing, first, is a celebration. We see something or someone in our life who is about to do something difficult or new or maybe just needs us to point it out to other people that this is important – so every blessing is a celebration – of noticing what’s important and asking God to see it too. An blessing is, second, a prayer. We talk to God and ask that this person or animal or object is given all the good and loving and wonderful things that God can give. A blessing is, third, an act of faith. It’s when we say, in a very public way, that God is important to us – and we trust in God – and so we ask God to bring goodness to whatever it is that we bless. God knows what this person or thing or animal needs. And God will be with them always. But we can, as followers of Jesus, take a moment to celebrate something special, to pray about it with God, and to trust that God will be loving and kind and awesome.

So that’s why we bless all sorts of things. We bless weddings and people. We bless babies when they’re born and gardens when we plant them. We bless animals because of all the love the bring in our lives and we also bless each other – each and every week at the end of the service – because all of us need to remember just how loved we are and just how important we are to God.

Now who do you think can do blessings? Pastors. Pastors can! And that’s part of what I get to do. But we can also bless each other. So I brought these animals up here so that you can practice blessings. So let’s try it.

Pass out the animals. Practice Cookie the Goldfish, creature of God, may the Father Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever. Amen

That’s it! You just blessed something. So later today, you can bless your friends, your siblings, and definitely your parents because we all need blessing sometimes. And God invites us to bless all things and all people every day – because when we bless, we share God’s love.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on 5th Sunday after Pentecost, 6/24/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Seeds seeds seeds

Bring a coloring sheet for kids to color. Sheet is the life-cycle of the seed. Bring crayons so they can color too.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So today, like all Sundays, I want to talk a little bit about Jesus. Jesus, when he was talking to people, liked to talk in about stories. He liked to tell these stories – that we call parables – to help us try to imagine a little bit about who God is, what God is doing in the world, and how much God loves us. Today, in our reading about Jesus from the gospel according to Mark, we’re going to hear Jesus use two different stories. And I’d like to, right now, talk about the first story he tells.

And that story involves this: show the coloring sheet of the plant’s life cycle.

Now, I’m going to talk about this piece of paper but as I do – I want you to color. Pass out crayons.

So this picture tells a story…of what’s this little round thing? A seed. And where is the seed? In the soil. And what’s it doing through the other pictures? It grows. That’s right. This picture shows how a plant grows. It starts as a seed. And then little sprouts grow. And then little roots. And then the sprout comes out of the ground. Leaves grow and the plant gets bigger and bigger. For most plants, this is how they grow. They start as a seed…and then the grow big.

Now, we know what a plant needs to grow. It’s needs soil; it needs sun; it needs enough water. And sometimes Jesus and his friends talk about the ways we can help Jeff a plant grow. But Jesus, in the first story today, doesn’t talk about how we can help a plant grow. Rather, Jesus points us to something amazing: that this plant, in the first place, grows at all.

Because is there any way you can tell a seed to grow? Can you point to it and say…GROW! And make it grow right then and there? Nope. We can help them grow – but we can’t make them grow. Instead, the seed is planted and it grows when it grows.

Jesus uses this image of a seed to tell us something about God. It’s hard to always see God at work. There are times when we are sad; or we are hurting; or we’re super happy – and we just don’t really see God around us. It’s difficult to see God’s love showing up in the people around us and in our world. But Jesus reminds us that even though we don’t see God, God is here. Even though we don’t always know how God’s love shows up around us, God’s love is here – and it’s growing – and it’s showing up – and it’s making a difference. God loves you. Jesus is with you. Jesus is helping you. And we are, like the seed, becoming more like the loving, kind, and Christian person God knows we can be.

Thank you for being here! And I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, 6/17/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Tickets from Jesus

Bring Your Ticket Archive Book.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So tonight is a very special night in my household. It’s the night when my family gather arounds to watch the greatest awards show there is – the Tonys! The Tonys, if you don’t know, is a show that celebrates all the amazing plays and musicals that were on Broadway, in New York City, over the last year. The awards are given out for best musical, best play, best actors, and more. And what’s really fun about it is that a lot of the musicals on Broadway bring a song from their show and perform it at the award show. That means if we’re not able to go to a Broadway show because we can’t afford it or live far away – we can still get a taste of this amazing plays and musicals are about – by turning on the tv and watching this fun show.

So since it’s the Tonys tonight – that got me thinking – and so I brought with me today…this. Show your ticket archive. It’s my ticket stub archive. Inside, I’ve shoved all sorts of ticket stubs, flyers, and some playbills from shows I saw. I don’t think it’s in any kind of order. We can see up in the front this these small little flyers from punk shows I saw when I was in college. Then there’s a few playbills and flyers talking about a Roller Derby show I’ve been to, an improv musical where the actors on stage make up songs, a playbill from the show Matilida…and then when we get into the center…we see rows and rows of tickets. I don’t have every ticket to everything I’ve seen but I’ve got most.

Walk through with them. Show the tickets and ask what the kids see. They see names, dates, numbers.

After a bit, go to the one that is your first Broadway.

Now, I didn’t grow up that interested in Broadway shows. I didn’t really see too many plays or musicals. I was much more interested in rock ‘n roll shows so that’s what I tried to do. But then someone invited me to see my first Broadway show. And it was this one – almost 12 years ago to this day. It was called Hot Feet. And it was…terrible. The story made no sense. The costumes were ridiculous. And the music, while entertaining, didn’t really fit at all. It was such a terrible show that the person who took me to it had to apologize, it was so bad.

Now, I could have decided then and there to never see another musical or play again. I tried it. I went. I stayed in my seat the whole time. I did the whole thing…and I just didn’t like it. But just because something isn’t great the first time – doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it again. And so the next time I was invited to a Broadway show I went. And I liked it. And then I kept going, over and over again. And, now, certain musicals and shows are just a part of my life.

All of you are going to sometimes experience things that, at first, seem boring. Or maybe a little scary. Or maybe you’ll try it and it won’t go well so you’ll want to give up. But I’m going to invite you to keep trying. Don’t give up. If it seems too hard at first, be patient and try again. Because, no matter what we’re trying, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how scared we are – we have someone on our side who is right there with us. And that’s…Jesus. Jesus is with you when things are going well and when things aren’t going well. Jesus is there when you’re working hard and winning all the time. And he’s there when you feel like you want to just give up. Jesus is our ticket [Pass out Tickets that you made talking about Jesus] to keep trying, over and over again, because when as we try, we grow and discover just who Jesus knows we can be.

Thank you for being here and I hope you have a blessed week.

Each week, I share a reflection for all children of God. The written manuscript serves as a springboard for what I do. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship on 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, 6/3/2018.