Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Update on Sunday school for March 4, 2012

Prayer:  Talking to God with Your Hands

 (Ask the following questions):
  • Does anyone here like to talk on the phone?
  • Do any of you talk on the computer with emails, IM, or Skype?
  • Who do you like to talk to and what about?
  • How many of you have cell phones?
  • How many of your parents have cell phones?  Do they get upset if they lose their phones?
Talking with people is important to us!  We make sure that we can call others whenever we want.  We also make sure people can reach us wherever we are.
So if talking to people is easy and we do it all the time, why is it so hard to spend time talking with God?
(Invite responses such as:  We get busy.  We don’t see Him all the time so we forget.  We don’t know how.  We might question whether God is really listening.  We might think our problems are too small.)
Why is it important to talk with God?
  1. God wants us to know Him.
  2. God really does answer prayer.
  3. God loves us through prayer.
  4. We love God through prayer.
Today we’re going to learn how to pray.  Remember that it’s as simple as talking to someone you love.  (Write out the word TALK as an acrostic on a whiteboard/chalkboard.)
T:  TAKE the TIME: (Have children point to a pretend watch on their wrist.)
Find time in your day to talk to God.  Pray at the same time each day.  Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth.  Ya’ll brush your teeth, right?
A:  AHHHHHH…. Quiet: (Have children take a deep breath with you.)
Find a quiet place in your home.  Turn the TV off, your music off, and find a way to escape from your little brother.  Sit under a table, go in your closet if it’s big enough, make a fort, whatever!
L:  LEARN from God’s Word. (Have children place hands palm side up as if holding a Bible.)
Read one verse a day.  If you’re up for the challenge, read one chapter a day.  Try to understand what God is saying to you.  Ask a grown-up who knows Jesus for help if you need it.
K:  KEEP a Prayer Plan. (Have children pretend like they are writing.)
Write down how to pray.  Pray that way.  Write down praises, prayer requests, and verses that mean a lot to you.  Keep it simple or else you won’t keep doing it.
(Repeat each component at least once, if not twice to ensure retention.)
Do any of you like to talk with your hands? (Mimic people who talk with their hands:  chefs, airline stewardesses, tour guides, photographers, pastors, etc.)
Today our hands are going to help us learn how to pray.  As long as your hands go home with you today (please tell me they will!) you should remember our lesson.  You’ve got five fingers and we’ve got five parts of prayer.  You ready?
1.  PRAISE: Praise is saying what you love about someone.  It’s saying, “God, I love that you are good.  I love how you made the ocean.  I love that you sent Jesus for our sins.”  (As you list each example, number them with your fingers and invite the children to do the same.)
2. CONFESS: Confession is a big word for spit up.  It means to get the junk out of your life.  It’s when you ask for forgiveness of your sins.  It’s saying, “I’m sorry that I lied.  Forgive me for getting in a fight with my brother.  I’m sorry for not loving you like I should.”  (As you list each, use your hands to mimic throwing up.)
3. READ: Reading God’s word helps us see ourselves as in a mirror.  It helps us understand who God is and who we are.  It helps us to pray because we know who we’re praying to.  (Mimic turning pages or holding up a mirror.)
4. ASK: God says in Matthew that, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  Pray for others.  Pray for yourself.  Ask for people to be saved, for God to provide, for wisdom to understand, for help in temptation, for people to be healed.  (Invite children to fold their hands as in prayer.)
5. THANKS: God has done so much for us.  What can you be thankful for today?  (Invite children to list items.  Lead the children in a lively worship song of praise/thanksgiving such as “He has made me glad.”  Have them clap their hands in thanks.)
(Review each of the parts of the Prayer Plan with the hand motions to cue the students’ memory.  Review a second time with only the bolded words.  Have students demonstrate the hand motions for each.  Close the lesson in prayer.  Follow the prayer plan, keeping it brief to hold students’ attention.)

Matthew 6:9-13 ESV

Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Review website below

How many of you know who Jesus is? Raise your hand if you know who Jesus is?

After taking some time to count all of the hands out loud, say, Wow! A lot of you know about Jesus! That is wonderful. Now, how many of you know that God loved the world so much that he gave His only Son Jesus so that whoever believes in Him can have eternal life with God?

Pause for children to raise their hands.

That is wonderful! I am thankful that so many of you know who Jesus is and that He is the only way to be with God in heaven some day! Are you glad that someone told you about Jesus?

Can you guess how many people there are in the world? Raise your hand if you have a guess.

Allow several children to give their guesses, then write the actual number on the chalkboard. Start from the right and just keep adding digits until you have written the whole number! Then read the number to the children

That is a lot of people! I can’t even imagine how many people that would be! Hmm, some of those people have probably never heard about Jesus. How many people do you think that that would be? How many people have never really had a chance to believe in Jesus? Any guesses?

Take several guesses, and then begin writing again.

This time write the number of people who have not had an adequate opportunity
to hear the gospel. Read the number to the children before commenting, Wow! That is amazing! About half the people in the world have never heard that Jesus is the way to God. Let me show you what that means.

Invite one child to the front to represent each billion people.
(For about 6 billion people in the world, invite 6 children to the
front, etc.)

Let’s pretend that these are all the people in the world. According to what we have just learned, half of all people have never heard that Jesus died for their sins. They don’t know that they can have eternal life if they believe in Jesus.

Separate out one child for each billion people who have not heard an adequate presentation of the gospel. This will be about half of the children. Round the numbers as needed to make the illustration work. (If you need half of a person, consider asking one child to turn sideways between the two groups.)

That means that out of all these people, this many do not even have a chance to believe in Jesus!
Point to the children who in the world who have not heard an adequate presentation of the gospel and say.
Did you know that so many people have never had a chance to know Jesus? They really don’t have a choice to believe in Jesus. How does that make you feel?

Point to the other half of the children. This many people have heard about Jesus. But…Separate about one-third of the “evangelized” children from the others.
…only about this many of the people who have heard about Jesus believe in Him. That means a lot of people do not know Jesus! We have a big problem! What can we do about this problem?

Allow the children to make some suggestions. If no one suggests prayer, add that suggestion to the list.

You have some fantastic ideas about what you can do to help people who haven’t believed in Jesus! I hope that you will try some of those things. One of our ideas was to pray. Do you think your prayers really make a difference?

I will be giving the children handouts to take home on learning the Lords Prayer.

Lastly, I will finalize with reading the beginning of the story about Jesus that was in the handout. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Morning Welcome

Good morning and welcome to Christ Church! 

I hope you find a warm greeting here and that your experience draws you closer to God.

Today is the first Sunday in Lent.  Lent is the season of preparation that leads up to the celebration of Easter.  As a part of Lent, people often fast – give something up – and take on other spiritual disciplines for the purpose of spiritual growth.  As we get ready for Easter, we prepare our hearts.  We make ourselves ready for the Good News to live in us.

In our sermon series for the season, we will talk about this preparation.  How do you plan to grow?  Each Sunday, we will cover a different discipline, a different aspect of spiritual development.  Together we will learn how to prepare our hearts to receive the resurrected Christ!  Make your plan to join us for “What’s Your Plan?”

Rev. Nancy

Christ Notes – February 23, 2012

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD  "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message."  So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Jer 18:1-4

A few years ago, my picture was in the Cherokee County newspaper.  At least, I think it was.  My good friend Ginny and I went to Holbrook Campground for a worship service at their annual camp meeting.  It was a new experience for me and a joy to see so many families staying onsite for this traditional event.

As the worship service started one of the pastors in charge – a friend of mine – saw me and asked me to lead one of the prayers.  Not long after, a woman from the newspaper told me that she had taken a picture of me during the prayer and wanted to know my name and where I was from.  (Ginny now wants to be my publicist.)  I couldn’t help but be amused at the irony of being the picture representative of this event when I was merely an innocent bystander and had done none of the hard work of making it happen.

The message that day, brought by the Rev. James Smith, used the above text from Jeremiah.  He eloquently reminded us that we are still works in the hands of God, continually being shaped, re-shaped and perfected.  If one shape doesn’t work out or is finished in its use, then God prepares us for the next shape, and the next, and the next.

It occurs to me that we are very different from the pliable clay on that potter’s wheel.  We are called into service long before our shape is complete; while our clay is still wet and more work is still to be done.  Throughout our lives, we are works in progress; imperfect and unfinished, but useful nevertheless.  God calls us now, in this and every moment – even with our lumps and sharp edges.  And our response is to say “yes,” even if we have leaks, chips or weak handles.  God knows we will chip and break, but continues to spin us on the wheel until our final form becomes apparent.  We will just have to wait and see.

Now that we have started the season of Lent (we began yesterday with the celebration of Ash Wednesday), we take this formation even more seriously.  Lent is a time of preparation as we make our hearts ready to contain the good news of the resurrection.  Don’t be a bystander.  Make a plan.  Engage in a new spiritual practice, or choose a fast (give something up) for Lent.  Make a conscious and disciplined effort to grow during this season.  Your church family will be growing right along with you.

Rev. Nancy

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Update on Sunday School 2-26-2012

Helping Little Children with Lent
As parents of young children know, Lent can seem so “heavy” in comparison to the anticipation and excitement of preparing for Christmas. What can this season of conversion and preparation “to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed” mean for little children?
For many of us growing up, Lent meant “giving up candy.” That wasn’t a bad way to introduce us to the notion of self-discipline, but simply giving up something for Lent, without a whole spirituality that children can enter into, can leave kids dreading Lent more than looking forward to it.
The first and most important help for little children is that we as adults understand Lent and enter into it ourselves with real devotion and joy. If Lent makes its way into our home and into our conversations and practices that children can see, they will naturally grow up in a culture that embraces Lent as a season of grace.
Secondly, symbols are very important. Children need a context. They need to explore and understand what we just take for granted, and sometimes forget. When we put something in a central place in our home, and call attention to it, it naturally leads children to ask “why” it is there and what it means. In their curiosity, they want to know what’s changed and what difference it makes for them.
It is important, with our family prayer to let the story of our salvation enter the imaginations of our children. Telling stories helps it all “fit together” for children, and for us. So, if we have a bowl of water in a central place in our home, it can be a wonderful “entry point” to the season of Lent for the whole family. What does this water remind us of? Our baptism. Lent is a time in which we want to be renewed in our baptism. That’s why it is nice to find the children’s baptismal candles or baptismal garments. Perhaps we have photos of their baptism or even a video of it.
Helping children get back in touch with their baptism can help them understand that when the water was poured over their foreheads, or when they were immersed in the water, they were placed with Jesus for the rest of their lives. It becomes very vivid if children can be helped to act it out with a doll. We’re not baptizing the doll, but our doll can help us imagine what it was like when we were baptized. Why do we use water to help us think that we are one with Jesus?
Water is so important to life; we can’t survive without it for even a few days. Water plays an important part in our story. The story of creation begins with the Spirit of God hovering over the dark waters until God said, “Let there be light!” The story of the exodus from Egypt tells how God led his people to safety and freedom through the Red Sea. When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the River Jordan, to help them turn away from sin and live a good life, Jesus came and asked to be baptized too, not because he was a sinner but because he was beginning his public life to become completely a part of our lives on this earth. And, when the centurion pierced Jesus’ side, after he died on the cross for us, blood and water flowed out as a sign of the sacraments he would give us. And, of course, there are the small fonts of water at the doors of every church, to remind us of the baptismal font in which we were baptized. So, each time we enter a church, we dip our hands in that water and sign ourselves with the cross of our salvation.
Depending upon the age of our children, we can have the older children help the younger children with Lent. A family “meeting” could be scheduled each week, in which we could say a prayer, and then plan out what each person in the family can do in the upcoming week, to help the whole family out and what the whole family could do to help the poor. For example, each child could be assigned one small “duty” to do, to help out the family this week. It could be an ordinary household chore, or it could be to draw a symbol for our Lent journey – a picture of the people crossing the Red Sea, Jesus’ baptism, his or her own baptism, one of us in the family when we are sad and when we are happy.
Perhaps at this family meeting, the family plan for eating during Lent could be discussed. How will we abstain from meat this coming Friday? Why are we doing it? It’s a sacrifice, but it is a remembrance of the Friday we call “Good”, the day our Lord died for us. And, avoiding meat on this day places us in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in our city, our country and around the world who are poor. A family can also get a sense of its relationship with the poor if a simple meal is connected with “savings” which can be given to the poor. One practice a family might take up together is to find out about a meal program for the homeless in the area and to make a meal to bring to the meal program each week. Children can help in making a big pot of chili or sloppy joes and come along on the trip in delivering it to the meal program. This kind of family Lenten practice can transform a child’s experience of the special power of Lent
The most important part of Lent can be how children are helped to make this a time to practice being more loving. Children are naturally loving, but they can get into really bad habits of fighting with brothers and sisters or being disobedient or even talking back. Lent is a great time to build in some family practices, which can also be an outstanding renewal for parents and adults in the family. Children will notice, if part of my Lenten journey is to choose to fast from my crabby-ness or busy-ness and to spend more time with them. They will notice, if we set the example of choosing to compliment others in the family more, highlighting the good things I notice in them. If our family Lenten practice is to focus on being nicer, kinder and more generous in helping each other, the children will take part in it. And, if we fail on a given day, we can quickly apologize and ask forgiveness and model penitential and reconciling behavior that is central to Lent.
During Lent, a family could choose a number of things to make a huge difference in a child’s experience of Lent. All they take are a commitment of time and some creativity.
One possibility is to take 20 minutes, perhaps on a Friday in Lent, to go through the Stations of the Cross together as a family. Each of the stations can be described. The point is not to frighten the children with the terrible things that happened to Jesus, but to help them understand that he went through all of this for us, so that we need not fear death, for we are going to live with him forever.
Perhaps as part of our special Lent practices, a family could look at the upcoming Sunday’s gospel together on Saturday, to prepare for Sunday. The more the story of the gospel enters the children’s imagination, the more the children can get out of celebrating the Sunday liturgy with the family. And, it will be great to talk about the homily, in practical terms for the family, sometime during the day on Sunday.
Finally, the most important days to prepare children for are Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday – the three days Lent builds up to. It would be wonderful to prepare children for the great liturgies these days, but if it is not possible to celebrate these liturgies in person, it is possible to make those times special at home.
On Holy Thursday, a special meal can be prepared and the family can remember the meal Jesus had with his disciples, the night before he died for us, and how he gave us his body and blood that night. Perhaps lamb can be prepared, along with pita bread and some wine, so that the whole Passover story can to shared with the children. This connection with every Eucharist, can be a great and memorable time for the children. After supper, a family could wash each others’ feet as an important ritual to talk about afterwards. It will certainly seem awkward or uncomfortable. It’s supposed to. We can then talk about what this ritual means for us, linking it to the gift of the Eucharist, as we live out the example Jesus gave for us, of self-giving.
On Good Friday, we can plan to observe the day in many special ways. We can plan our meals carefully, to explain fasting and abstinence. Without jeopardizing the childrens’ health, we ourselves can demonstrate fasting to them, and explain its meaning: to make us more alert and hungry for God’s gifts to us. The time between Noon and 3 o’clock should be a particularly quiet and reflective time. We can read the Passion story – from John’s Gospel – and add our own words here and there to fill out the story and let children ask questions. We can pray our petitions for all of God’s people, especially the ten groups we traditionally pray for on Good Friday. It is a wonderful time to do the Stations of the Cross together. It can also be a time to do a veneration of the cross together – embracing or kissing a family crucifix.
On Holy Saturday, we can make the day a time of waiting. We can remember that it is the only day of the church year on which there is no liturgy. We are conscious all day of the memory of Jesus in the tomb. It is a day in which we can help children talk about the reality of death, and then explain to them the anticipation of new life. If we really reflect upon that tomb, which held the body of Jesus, we can really understand the power of our Easter joy – that the tomb is empty forever.
In this spirit, every family can do something to make Lent special for the youngest of children.
So, this week we will be discussion planning to fast and the meaning of it, but we will also be discussing and learning about The Parable of the Great Feast.
The children will understand that Lent is a 40 day journey (not counting Sundays!) to focus on God and prepare to remember and celebrate Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the grave to save each of us.  Many people decide to “give up” things for Lent to help them remember that Jesus gave his life for us, but you can also “take on” doing good things, just like Jesus did.  Through the exploration of parable Bible stories, these lessons help children discover how we can attempt to live and serve as Jesus did in the kind of kingdom he envisioned.   This lesson explores including and inviting others with the story of The Parable of the Great Feast.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Morning Welcome

Good morning and welcome to Christ Church! 

I hope you find a warm greeting here and that your experience draws you closer to God.   Today we are having a special worship service.  Members of our congregation are participating in many different ways.  Our worship service is a Service of Gifts.

Most of us are way too modest about our gifts.  We are far too likely to think we don’t have them or that they don’t matter.  Nothing is farther from the truth.  Your gifts DO matter!  (and yes, you have them.)  They are not meant to be hoarded or denied but exercised.

Don’t hide your gifts, celebrate them!  Then use them in the service of the One who gives all good gifts.

Rev. Nancy

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Christ Notes - February 16, 2012

A few years ago, a friend of mine preached a sermon on leadership.  One of his points has remained with me to this day.  He said, “Leadership is taking people where they didn’t know they wanted to go.  It isn’t leadership if you’re taking them to Dunkin’ Donuts.”

The longer I work as a pastor, the more I realize how important leadership is.  “Leadership” defined broadly, refers to influence.  We usually think of leadership as being a committee chair, a club president, an official – and it is true that good leadership skills are needed for these roles.  But it means more than that. 

Through leadership we create change.  We direct people and bring about situations that we hope will build the general good – and we are likely to do this regardless of any titles that we carry.  We lead best by living.  Some of the best leaders I know are the self-defined “worker bees” who decline any formal management opportunity.  Regardless what position we hold, when others bend their actions because of our direction or example, we have practiced good leadership.

The quality of our leadership will depend on the things we are committed to.  People will be influenced by our choices, by the sacrifices that we make, and by the things that are important to us as proven by our lives.  Are you willing to be a leader?  Are you willing to make the choices and commitments that will point others toward the things that are really important?  I hope you will.  I hope your leadership will draw others to God in Jesus Christ.  What better direction can we have?

Rev. Nancy

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Morning Welcome

Good morning and welcome to Christ Church! 

I hope you find a warm greeting here and that your experience draws you closer to God.  Today is Scout Sunday and we welcome those visiting scouts to our church and our worship service. 

Our worship and sermon topic is Super Hero!  Wouldn’t it be great to be a super hero?  To have all the superhuman abilities that you usually only see in people who wear a mask and a cape!  We probably all have that secret wish. 

Well, the Bible tells us we can.  What’s more, we’re expected to!  How?  We will talk about it today, as we continue our sermon series, The Power of U:  Finding Your Place in God’s Plan.  Learn how you can be a super hero in somebody’s life.

Rev. Nancy

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sunday School update 2-12

Jesus in Nazareth
Jesus began his ministry in his own hometown of Nazareth .  After struggling with temptation in the wilderness and armed with the Holy Spirit, Jesus was ready to face his most difficult challenge—delivering his message to the people who knew him best.
To many Jesus was the fulfillment of the hopes of the Jewish people for a Messiah.  But some Jewish people saw his ministry as a rejection of his heritage; they rejected his claim that he was the Messiah.  A the synagogue in Nazareth , where Jesus—a native son—had come to pray and to worship God, the flickering flames of this rejection began.  The people who heard him that day asked one another; Who is this?  Isn’t this Joseph’s son?  How presumptuous for him to claim the status of Messiah? 
The passages that Jesus read in the synagogue that day were from Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming of the Spirit of God.  The Gentiles who heard this message after Jesus’ death longed for the time.  These people were struggling under the oppressive yoke of the Roman government.  They received these words with great hope.
But what is good news to a younger elementary child?  A new baby brother?  A surprise gift?  Might good news also, be a safe place to live, a good warm meal, warn clothing, a dependable parent?  Good news is relative to the child.  The message of good news that Jesus was preaching had to do with fairness and justice for all peple.
Fairness and justice.  These two words that can be applied to younger elementary children.  They want everything to be even.  They also want justice.  If one child is given a privilege, then all children want an equal privilege.  If a child is punished, then any child committing the same transgression should be punished equally.  The rules should be fair for everyone.
Jesus set an example of fairness and justice for all people to follow.  The children in Sunday school will discover that they can be bearers of good news as well.  They can make a difference.
Sunday, your children will hear the story of Jesus’ visit to the synagogue at Nazareth .  These Jesus revealed to the people that he was the promised Messiah.  But the people there, friends and neighbors who watched Jesus grow up, did not accept him.  For one thing, Jesus informed all who heard that God had sent him as the Messiah to all people—not just his own.  Your children are at an age where fairness is a critical issue.  How many games have fallen apart in a discussion over what is fair or just?  Talk with your children about being fair to all people.  Remind them that sometimes we have to sacrifice in order to be fair or just for all persons involved.
We will be playing and coloring cards and this will be called encouraging words, no fair race, the story will be about the obstacles that Jesus has to face and how it relates to us, a gme called whose good news and finally a game called over and under good news. 
Bible Verse
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.
Luke 4:18
Bible Story
Luke 4:14-21; Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-6
Lisa Wille
Cell:  770-362-2175

Christ Notes - February 9, 2012

In December, just before Christmas, I took my children shopping for Christmas gifts.  This was a first.  It isn’t that my children didn’t have experience with presents.  They know perfectly well the meaning of a box wrapped in shiny paper and colorful ribbon.  Many have passed through their hands.  They have not, however, done the choosing, the wrapping, the labeling or the putting under the tree.  Being on the giving end of the gifts was a new thing.

So, wanting them to learn about this new experience, I packed each one into the car on separate occasions and headed for the dollar store.  I wanted them to learn to pick out presents for family members, then we would wrap them and put them under the tree.   We had some success, if limited.  I can’t say that they fully understood the process and what it was all about.  I’m fairly certain that the Tinkerbell puzzle wasn’t really meant for Daddy.  But I do hope that every year, as we go through the ritual of choosing and wrapping gifts, they will begin to learn the joy that can come from giving them.

When we are young, the fun of gifts is receiving them – waiting anxiously to rip through the paper and see what new wonderful thing we have gotten.  When we get older, however, we realize that the real joy comes from the giving – choosing that wonderful thing for someone we care about, and watching as they open it and use it in a way that brings happiness.

I imagine this is how God feels offering gifts to us.

Everyone has gifts.  We talked about it a few weeks ago in worship as we shared the story of Stone Soup.  Everyone has something to contribute to the feast we call Christian community; the banquet we call worship.  If we are pleased to see a loved one use a gift we have carefully picked out for them, imagine how God delights in our use of the gifts which have been given to us.

On Sunday, February 19, we are going to have a Service of Gifts as our worship service.  What is a Service of Gifts?  It will look like something like a talent show, but instead of entertaining an audience, we will be using our gifts to worship God.  You have gifts.  They may or may not easily translate to a worship setting, but we would like to honor God with them in our service of gifts.  Sign up or learn more by contacting the church office.

Share your gifts.

Rev. Nancy

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Morning Welcome

Good morning and welcome to Christ Church! 

I hope you find a warm greeting here and that your experience draws you closer to God.

There are many reasons that we serve.  We may serve out of compassion for others, maybe out of guilt. We may help others because we want our lives to mean something, or because our service will look good on a resume or a college application.  Maybe it is just what you do.  Whatever reason we may claim, there is one that is the foundation for all the rest.  We are built for it.
God made us to lean on each other and to be reliable in our turn; to help those who need help at any given time.  It is a part of our makeup.  This may not necessarily make it easy to get up from the recliner and the Saturday morning cartoons to do an outreach project.  But like any other discipline, we find ourselves feeling better, happier and healthier when we are done.
Today in worship we continue our sermon series, The Power of U: Finding Your Place In God’s Plan.  Join us as we listen for God’s call to us.


Rev. Nancy

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Christ Notes - February 2, 2012

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
     and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves
     in rich food.          
  Isaiah 55:2

In the days when Vivian rode the bus to school, we would find ourselves standing at the end of the driveway at 6:45 in the morning.  The sun would just be coming up on the best day.  At first, we were none too happy about the early pick up time, but now I feel differently.  While I’m no morning person, I am glad for an early start to the day.  It is a great opportunity to visit the world while it is quiet and to start the day’s work unencumbered by the distractions that come with normal daytime hours.

I am beginning to think that early is good.  As a recovering procrastinator, I am starting to learn the joys of finishing a job without the stress of an immediate deadline.  I am also beginning to think through priorities very carefully.  A common reason that we end up behind schedule or stressed is that we work against our priorities.  It is far too easy for most of us to put aside what is really important for the things we think need to be done right now.   More of our attention often goes to the distractions than to the things that matter.

This happens in our faith life.  I know this.  I earn my living as a cheerleader for faith, and way too often I see us give the ball away.  Any of us who profess the Christian faith would probably agree that our relationship with God and the practice of our beliefs is the foundational piece of our lives – the thing that sustains us now and will keep us beyond this life.  But how often do our schedules reflect something very different?  Then church/faith/ God becomes that thing that we know we ought to do – but it will always be there, and we’ll get to it as soon as we can.  And an opportunity is missed.

I’m not interested in making religion the equivalent of spinach – something you are coerced into consuming along with a heaping portion of guilt.  But I don’t want you to miss an important opportunity either.  I don’t want you to spend your one life on what is not life-giving.  Pay attention to your faith.  How do you practice it?  What time to you give it?  What commitment do you make?  Don’t wait until hindsight makes you see the opportunity missed.  Pour your time into the things that matter.  Whether you’re starting early or late, start now.

Rev. Nancy

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

UPDATE ON SUNDAY SCHOOL - February 5, 2012

Jesus in the Wilderness

Jesus challenged many of the traditions of the people in what he said and want he did.  Even today, this is not a comfortable situation, and it certainly did cause people to sit up and pay attention.  Some people approved of what Jesus said and welcomed his interpretation of the Scriptures.  Some saw him as the long awaited leader who would show then the way to freedom from Rome.  Some aw him as the redeemer, the Savior, the one sent from God.  And still others saw him as a troublemaker, one who could potentially bring down the earth of the occupying forces and cause them grief. 

Soon after his baptism, Jesus sought solace in the Judean wilderness.  There he prayed and fasted for 40 days.  At the end of those 40 days, when his resistance was at it lowest level, Satan came to tempt Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of God, is all powerful.  But how would he use these powers—for the benefit and glory of God or for more selfish motives?  As Jesus was confronted by each temptation, he responded by quoting from the Scriptures.  His dedication to God showed that he was indeed ready to start his ministry.

Younger elementary children still live in a world that is centered around themselves.  Every action and event is evaluated on its impact on them as persons.  As they grow older, they will develop more of a sense of other.  Sin occurs when persons put their desires above all else.  The story of the temptations show how Satan tempted Jesus to put his needs ahead of his responsibilities.  But Jesus stood firm.

Younger elementary children are caught between the need to please teachers and parents and the need to please their friends.  Peer acceptance is a formidable force in these children’s lives.  The closer children feel to God the harder it will be to be tempted to do wrong.  Help the children know that they can turn to the Bible as a source for strength to do what is right.  Jesus even quoted Scripture as a shield against the evil of temptation.  We can provide our children with the armor to stand against the evils they face today.

In this Sunday’s story your children will be hearing about Jesus’ experience in the wilderness with Satan.  Your children will be hearing how Jesus was tempted to use his power as Jesus stood firm, using Scripture and God’s power to fight off temptation.  Your child is constantly confronted with choices that he or she must make.  The story of how Jesus stood firm in spite of the glorious opportunities that he was offered will be an inspiration to your children.  Everyone is tempted.  To live without temptation would be to live in a box.  But God gave us the power to resist temptation and the grace for the times when we give in.

Story is Have I Got A Deal for You, the games will be Woof, Woof, Baddest and Goodest, Temptation Tugs, Set the Stage, Comin’ At Ya.

Bible Verse
It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
Luke 4:8

Bible Story
Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13