Children’s Message: What to do With the Unexpected

So it’s my tradition after the prayer of the day to bring a message to all of God’s children. And today I want to start with using our imaginations. Lets imagine we’re going to the grocery store. Where’s the first place you usually go? For me, I usually visit the fruits and vegetables – making sure to pick up some strawberries, apples, and other goodies. Where would you go next? I then, depending on the store, either get some milk or go pick up cereal that is full of too much sugar. When I go to the grocery store, I usually go with a list and I usually have the same things on the list every week. I might add a new thing every once in a while – but it’s always the same fruits, cereals, pastas, and snacks I pickup each week. My visits to the grocery store are pretty much the same week-to-week. And when I go from aisle to aisle, I tend to be focused on my shopping. But every once in a while, something unexpected happens – and I run into someone I didn’t think who would be there. 

For example, when I was a kid, I might see my teacher at the grocery store. That always felt really weird to me because teachers were supposed to be at school – not at grocery stores! That’s where I saw them, interacted with them, and that’s where I expected them to be. I didn’t expect to see a teacher in a place other than school. Have you ever run into a teacher outside of school? How did it make you feel? It usually made me feel a bit shy, awkward, and I didn’t always know what to say. Those feelings are perfectly normal. When we run into something unexpected – like seeing our teacher outside of school – we might not know how to react to it. It might make us feel surprised or anxious or excited or confused. And when I get that way, I’ve learned that I don’t have to ignore those feelings. I can, instead, just pause and be in that moment with all those feelings. I can be patient, say hello, and go with the flow to see what happens next. 

Today in our story about Jesus, we’re going to listen to someone do something unexpected to Jesus [John 12:1-8 – Mary’s anointing of Jesus]. Often our stories in church tell about how Jesus kept doing unexpected things – like eating meals with people he shouldn’t, or including people others want to exclude, or by healing those who needed help. But this story is about a friend of Jesus, named Mary, doing something unexpected to him. She is going to offer him a gift that some of Jesus’ disciples said she shouldn’t have. It was unexpected – yet Jesus shows us one way we can live with that unexpected thing. We can pause. We can ponder. We can accept the gift of the unexpected because it might impact us in small ways. We might, for example, remember that teachers are people with their own families, lives, and things they like to do. We can celebrate teachers for being more than just one thing – just like we, as kids and students and beloved children of God – are more than one thing too. And we can do that because, as we’ll see in two weeks at Maundy Thursday worship, this unexpected gift invites Jesus to keep doing unexpected things too. 

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 Fifth Sunday in Lent, 4/3/2022.

Children’s Sermon: R E P E N T

REPENT. This is from Worshipping With Children. Today’s candle is “Peace.”

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

We’re going to me a guy in our story about Jesus today who goes by the name John. And we call him John the Baptist. John the Baptist was, according to the gospel according to Luke, was Jesus’ cousin. John the Baptist was kind of a wild guy. He liked to dress like an outdoorsman who lived off the land, wearing camel hair clothes, and eating bugs for his lunch. He was hanging out in the country, in the wilderness, in the places where there were not cities or farms or villages. He was in a wild place – and he was there because he knew that God would meet him there.

While John was in the wilderness, God spoke to him and gave John the words he should use. And one of his favorite words is…this one Show the word It’s…Repent. Let’s say it together. Repent! This is a word that John uses again and again. Repent – Repent – Repent! Repent is a word we don’t usually use a lot. It’s one of those church words – words that we use in church but that we don’t always hear at school. But “Repent” is a word that we should all use. And what it means is…turn the page over…it means “sorry.” Being sorry is feeling bad that you did something wrong or your hurt someone. And being sorry is something we all have experienced.

But did you notice something different about these two words? They’re different sizes. Repent is big and sorry is small! Right! I wrote R E P E N T in very big letters and sorry in small because they’re different. When we’re sorry, we feel bad that we did something wrong. We might apologize, we might feel sick in our stomach, we might even get upset because we’re feeling so bad. Feeling sorry is a good, normal, and an important emotion we shouldn’t run away from.

But Repenting is different. Repenting – Repent – is doing something to make sure that we never do the thing that hurt someone again. Repenting is about changing our behavior so that we don’t create the circumstances or situations where we feel sorry like we did. So if we didn’t share a toy with our friend, we make sure to share the next time. When we say an unkind word about someone, maybe because of what they looked like or how they dressed, we ask why we did that – why we thought they looked different – and we change our thoughts so we don’t do that again. When we see someone who doesn’t have as much as us, who can’t enjoy the things we do, we don’t treat them differently or poorly because of that. Instead, we ask why they don’t have what we have, we step into their shoes, and then we change our behavior so they can experience the joy that God wants for them.

Now, repenting is a lot harder than just feeling sorry. John wasn’t interested in people feeling sorry about the bad things they were doing. He wanted them to change. And he knew, with God’s help, we can all admit what we do wrong, how we harm others, and we can ask God to help change us so that everyone can live the life God wants them to: a life full of love, a life full of helping each other, a life being kind, and a life of loving each other – and even strangers – as much as we love ourselves. And when we repent, with God’s help, we can create a world where everyone gets to live in peace.

So today, for the Advent wreath, we’re going to light two candles. The first one, if we remember, was about Hope. Today, it’s about peace. So let us pray: Advent Lighting Words – from “worshipping With Children:”
God, we know that we are not all you created us to be. You call us to repent, to make changes. So, we light the first candle knowing that you are with us in all the shadow of the world and we light this second candle promising to make the changes we need to make to be your people. Be with us, show us what to do, and give us the courage and energy we need to change


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 Second Sunday of Advent, 12/9/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Happy New (church) Year! Hope and the Cow Who Climbed a Tree

Bring Year C glasses. Today’s Candle is “Hope.” Book: the Cow Who Climbed A Tree

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

Happy New Year! Today is the start of a new church year – when we’ll go through a new cycle of special colors, scripture readings, and more. In our Bibles, we have four separate books, separate chapters, that teach us about Jesus. And we need all four to see who Jesus is. And this upcoming year – “Year C” as you can see in my glasses – we’re going to read a bunch of stories about Jesus from the gospel according to Luke. It’s in the gospel according to Luke where we get the story about angels telling Shepherds about Jesus’ birth, where we discover who’s John the Baptist’s parents are and how Jesus and the John the Baptist are cousins, and where we hear how, way after he is born, after he dies, and after he is raised from the dead – Jesus meets two friends of his while they’re on the road to a place called Emmaus. So I can’t wait to spend the next year spending time with Jesus and with each of you through the Gospel according to Luke.

One of the big ideas we’ll hear in Luke is “hope.” Now hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Hope is something that a little hard to describe so I brought a book to help me. The book here is The Cow Who Climbed a Tree” which stars a cow named Tina. Tina was a curious cow. Tina loved discovering. Tina loved science, and learning, and reaming. Tina even imagined building a rocketship to take her to the moon! Tina had a lot of amazing ideas – but her 3 sisters weren’t interested. They thought her ideas were silly. They thought Tina should only be focused on the things cows usually like – standing around and eating grass. They weren’t very nice to Tina nor did they treat her the way they should. Her sister hoped that Tina would be just like them. But Tina, the cow, hoped her sisters would celebrate and support her love of discovery, science, and learning. They both hoped that each other would be different than they are.

But as we flip the pages in the story, we see how both Tina and the sisters change. Tina, after climbing a tree, meets a dragon who helps Tina realize that being herself – loving science and learning is good. And the sisters, after noticing that Tina is missing, go to find her – and discover how Tina’s love for learning, and her inventions, were helping all sorts of animals learn how to “fly.” Her sister saw Tina for the special cow that she is – and they celebrate that by saying “YES!” when Tina asks if they want to fly. In the end, the sisters changed. They accepted Tina for who she was – a cow that loved to learn. And they discovered that Tina could help them love,see, and experience the world differently too.

We’re going to spend all year hearing about the hope Jesus gives to each of us. There are times when we will be sad. There are times when we we’ll look around the world and it looks like sadness, tears, and just icky stuff is what this world is about – and that they always seem to win. There are times when we’ll hope that we are different and that the people are different too. And Luke will remind us, over and over again, that because Jesus was born, because Jesus lived just like us, because Jesus grew up just like you, and because Jesus lived, and died, and rose from the dead – and that Jesus loves you – we have a hope that God will always, in the end, win.

So let’s light the first candle of Advent on the Advent wreath a candle that represents Hope!

Let us pray: Advent Lighting Words – from “Worshipping With Children”
God, the world is scary. But, You are with us in the worst of situations. So, in the darkness we light this first candle of Advent with hope –
hope that you are with us even when awful things happen,
hope that you will show us what we can do to fix the world,
and hope that you will fix what we cannot.


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 First Sunday of Advent, 12/2/2018.

Children’s Sermon: T H E O L O G Y

Bring a piece of paper with Theology on one side, words about God on the other. Bring clipboards and crayons for each kid.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

I want to talk about a word today – and it’s a word on this piece of paper. I’d like each of you to take a clipboard, some crayons, and trace the word. What letters do you see? T H E O L O G Y. That word spells…theology! Theology is a word that looks pretty fancy but it isn’t. Theo is latin for the word and ology is “study of.” So this word means…”study of God.” So when we’re talking about God, reading our bible, going to Sunday School, worshipping in this space, and learning about what God’s people are doing in the world – we’re doing “theology.” We’re studying and learning more about God.

But theology is more than just study. Theology – our studying about God – also depends a lot on what we say about God. And the words we use are important. So let’s turn over our pieces of paper. What do you see on the other side? Words like love, eternal, Jesus, kind, justice, caring, etc. These are all words that describe who God is and what God is about. So we say that God is love – which means God loves you, me, and everyone. We say that God is eternal – which is a fancy word for forever – and that means God will always with us, forever and ever. We say that Jesus is God because Jesus is – and so when we learn more about Jesus and hear his story, we discover who God is. That God heals. That God helps all people. That God welcomes everyone. And that God especially cares for us even when no one thinks we’re important or special. What we say about God – becomes our personal theology about God. And everyone here – you, your parents, and even I – we all have our theology about God. And sometimes what we say about God is perfect – but other times, we let other opinions or thoughts or perspectives twist who God really is for. And our words about God become less about love and justice and kindness – and words that are mean, or push people away, or say who gets to be loved by God and who doesn’t. We always have to be careful about the words we use with God because the words we use inform what we know and share about God.

So looks at this sheet. See these words? When you think about God, when you pray, when you read your bibles, and when you talk about God – use these words. Remember these words. Because these words will help you not only know more about God – it will help you love and be kind and listen and care for the people around you – just like God loves, listens, and cares 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 Christ the King Sunday, 11/25/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Being Loved by a God Bigger than the Universe

Using the book “The Ultimate Construction Site Book” and images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Using an idea from Worshipping with Children.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

Do you like books? I like books. And my family and I really like this book – The Ultimate Construction Site Book. It’s full of images and descriptions of different construction sites where they’re making big and amazing things. Let’s look at a couple of pages.

Go through the book. See how big they are. Talk about how special these big buildings and machines make us feel. And how important those buildings, and others, can be to us. They are awesome.

That feeling you have right now – of being impressed and amazed at these big and important buildings and creations – Jesus’ friends had the same feeling. As we’ll hear in our story about Jesus today, he and his friends are in the Temple – in the big religious building in the city of Jerusalem, like our church but even bigger. And they were super impressed. They saw the big stones that held it together, the elaborate art on the walls, and all the people that were there. They were impressed!

And Jesus was too – but he wanted them to think about things in a different way. He told them that the big building will not last forever. That it will, eventually, fade away. And that, in fact, these big buildings – while big and impressive – shouldn’t be the focus of our love and attention. Because they are all very small compared to the rest of the universe – and to God. In fact, those buildings – and all the buildings in this book – are located here – on earth show the earth image. And the earth – while massive and big – is small compared to the rest of the universe. Show images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The universe is big and vast and amazing. And our God is even bigger and more powerful and amazing than that. Jesus wanted his disciples, and he wants all of us, to think bigger than just the big buildings around us. Jesus wanted his friends to know that the creator of everything – the creator of the universe – God’s love for us is bigger and better than anything else in the universe. Each of us are very small when we compare ourselves to the big buildings, planets, and amazing galaxies that make up the universe. But each of you are loved by the One who created it all. And so let’s always try to think about bigger – to think about more than just our city or our buildings or what seems to impress us. Let’s always think about how God’s love is bigger than all of us – and how we can share that love with everyone.

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 26th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/18/2018.

Children’s Sermon: All In

Hokey Pokey Time.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So it’s a little cold outside, right? The leaves are falling from the trees. The wind is blowing. The heat is on in our homes. And it might even snow this week. Can you believe it? No!

Play the Hokey Pokey with the kids.

Pretty simple game right? I tell you what to put into the circle, we move around, and then we turn. We put an arm in. And then we put a leg in. Then we put a face in. We put all our body parts in one at a time until the end – when we put in our whole body. And then the game is over.

But what if we did it differently? What if we just put our whole body in at the very start? It would make for a very short game – and we wouldn’t warm up much – but it would help illustrate one of the many things that Jesus tells us today.

Our story about Jesus today talks about his visit to a holy place, the Temple in Jerusalem. And if you don’t know what the Temple is, think of it as a big church – like this one – but bigger. The temple is full of people and is huge, gigantic, and massive. It looks so impressive that Jesus’ friends can’t help see all the people in fancy clothes who are there, all the religious leaders in their big robes, and all the large stones and statues and images that make the Temple such a vibrant place to be. Jesus’ friends notice the big and fancy stuff. But Jesus notices something different. He notices someone that his friends don’t – a woman who is a widow. And she’s poor. And she doesn’t have much money or resources or wealth. But she takes what she has and offers it to God – because she is all in with God.

She doesn’t just give part of what she has. She gives everything. She doesn’t, like in the hokey pokey, put in only part of her body – her arm, her foot, her leg. She puts her whole body in. And that’s something God wants from us too. God wants us to put our wholeself with God – to trust God, to pray to God, to worship God, and to study God’s word. God wants all of us to be with God – because God, through Jesus’ life – his death on the cross – and his resurrection – has put God’s whole self with each of 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 25th Sunday After Pentecost, 11/11/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Halloween Candy and Stewardship

Bring some Halloween candy. Make sure it’s a mix of good and the ones people don’t like.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So I hope you had a great Halloween. What was your costume? Did you have fun? Did you get lots of candy? What was your favorite kind that you got? Accept answers.

We had fun too and I brought some candy that my kids collected at a Trunk and Treat and our Trick or Treating. And there’s all sorts here. Go through the candy. Mmmmm. Lots of good one.

Now, if you wanted to give some of your candy away, which pieces would you give away first? We usually want to give away the pieces we don’t like. We want to give out the smarties, the lollipops, the ones that are unlabeled and taste like chalk. Some people like them but I don’t. So if I wanted to give candy away, I’d want to give away the pieces I wouldn’t eat. Or I would wait until I eat all the other candy I like and then give over the rest. I would keep the good stuff for myself – and let other people have the leftovers.

But what if we looked at it differently? What if we looked at this stash of candy and realize that – all of it is a gift. Sure, we went and collected it – but we needed all the other people in their homes to go out and buy the candy and wait at the door so we could collect it. But there’s more than that. We needed someone, years ago, to invent this candy. We needed someone to make it. We needed someone to market it – to let us know that this candy existed. And we needed the farmer to grow the food, workers to harvest it, and to put cook the candy and make it happen. And that brings us all the way back to the source of all our gifts and everything around us – to the source of everything – and that’s God. Every piece of candy in this pile is a gift. Every piece of candy here is a gift from God. And since every bit is a gift, then maybe could look at this candy differently – realize it is a gift – and think about giving it away, including the good stuff, as a gift too.

A little later we’re going to hear about how we, as a church, handle not candy but our money. We know that the money people here give the church is a gift – and that this gift is centered in the gifts God first gave them. So for a long time, we’ve been generous with this gifts. We give 10% of every financial gift to the church away. It goes to support our friends in other churches, our friends at Camp Koinonia, our friends who are being fed through the Pascack Valley Meal on Wheels, and who are being supported by Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey and Lutheran World Relief. So…it’s like if we had 10 pieces of candy – the first thing we do is send one away. And it’s not the one left over. We don’t look at the 9 pieces and eat everything first. We don’t pay our bills, pay my salary, pay for the lights and heat in the church, before we give 10% away. It’s a way we help love the world. It’s the way we share the gifts we give. And it’s a way we do something for God. Everything we have that gives us life – that helps us – that makes us feel loved and supported – is a gift from God. So we give back some to this church – and then this church gives some of that away too – because we are generous. And God invites us to be generous with our gifts, with our money, with our time, and – most importantly – with our 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 All Saints’ Sunday, 11/04/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Looking at the world differently

Bring some Halloween Masks. Pulled in from Dollar Store Children’s Sermom.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So in a few days, there’s going to be a big holiday in our area. It’s…Halloween! Do you have your costumes picked out? What are you going to dress as?

Those costumes sound great! I love how you are going to pretend to be those characters. No only do you get to dress up like them, but you might even get to pretend to be like them. So, for example, if you’re Captain America and have an inflatable shield – you can throw it, gently and safely, just like he does. Or if you’re Harry Potter, you can use your magic wand to chase bad guys and enjoy some delicious butterbeer. When we dress up like our favorite characters on Halloween, we don’t just look like them – but we also, sometimes, get to pretend what it’s like to be like them and to see the world around them like they do.

So how do we see the world like our costume characters do? Well – it helps to sometimes have a mask. So I brought some masks that I just happen to have lying around in my house. Show off your masks. Putting on these masks let us see the world in a different way.

In our lesson about Jesus today, we’re going to hear a story about how Jesus helped someone see in a new way. The person was born blind meaning they couldn’t see. However, they knew Jesus was nearby and they asked for Jesus’ help. At first, people told the blind man to stay silent. But he wouldn’t. He kept talking. And so Jesus healed him – and then he could see. Before, he had experienced life in only one way. But, with Jesus, he got to see the world in a new way.

Because of your baptism, because Jesus loves you, and because Jesus is with you always – we get to see the world in a new way. We get to, in a way, get to imagine ourselves wearing a Jesus Mask – seeing the world like Jesus does. So, let’s pretend we’re putting on our Jesus mask. Pretend to put on a Jesus mask. And when we look at ourselves, when we look everyone in the pews, and when we go see everyone at school, in our neighborhood, and in the world – we now get to see them in a new way. We get to see them as Jesus sees them – which means we get to see that everyone everywhere is loved. And since Jesus loves them, we should too.

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

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 Reformation Sunday/23rd Sunday after Pentecost, 10/28/2018.

Children’s Sermon: Why I’m Served Last

Bring a basket and a little piece of bread.

Hi everyone!

I’m very glad to see you today.

So today I’d like to talk about something you might see me do when I serve communion here at church. I usually stand behind the altar – as tall as I can so people can see me – and I prepare the meal we’re invited to share. There are a lot of different parts of the communion liturgy – the order we follow. So why don’t we go up to the altar itself and look at different parts of it.

Go up to the altar. Have the kids stand behind and around it. Go through the order briefly:
The items up there.
The prayers.
Words of institution.
The distribution – pass out bread/wine or a blessing.
Then before we clean up – the people who help with communion receive communion.
And at the end of that, the people who help served communion – serve communion to me.

Now if you go to churches, you’ll notice that the pastor might give themselves the wine and bread. Others might do what I do. In my opinion, there’s no right-or-wrong way for a pastor to receive communion. Instead, I invite the people who will communion to serve me – because it’s something important for my faith. It helps remind me that even though I’m the pastor, and I wear these robes, and I stand in the pulpit, and I write sermons, and I serve communion – even though everyone spends a lot of time at worship looking at me – I need Jesus just as much as you do. I’m not the most important thing here – Jesus is. And just like I get to serve you all Jesus – I need to be served Jesus as well. Jesus is something that comes to me – and by having other people serve me – I’m reminded that no matter how important I or others might say I am – I still need Jesus. I still need God’s love. And I need others to help me experience God’s love too.

We sometimes need help. And it’s hard to admit when we need help. We usually have no problem wanting to do everything ourselves. We look at the people around us who maybe are older, or taller, or able to do things we think we can do to – and we wonder why we can’t. So we try to pretend that we don’t need help – that we don’t need other people – and that’s how we’re supposed to live. We’re supposed to do things on our own – everything – and if we can’t, then there must be something wrong with us. But Jesus is going to tell us that since we are baptized – since we are part of Jesus himself – and since he is with us, always – we get to take care of each other. We get to see how the people around us are suffering – if they’re sad or hungry or whatever – and we get to help them. We get to love each other because Jesus, no matter what, always loves us – even before we ever heard or understood the name Jesus. But it sometimes hard to take care of each other if people don’t know we need help. We might always want to do everything ourselves – but the strongest, most grown up, most loving, and sometimes most difficult thing we can do is ask each other for help. When we’re sad, when we’re struggling, when we can’t quite figure things out – asking for help is a hard thing to do but it’s an important thing to do. Because none of us can do everything on our own. We all need each other to help us because God gives each of us special talents and abilities to take care of each other. And it’s through other people that we experience Jesus’ love and care for us. We need each other. We will take care of each other. And we can help live the way Jesus wants us to if we learn how to always, no matter what – and no matter how silly it might make us feel – to ask for help.

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 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, 10/21/2018.