World Community Communion

Children’s Message on World Communion Sunday

Scripture Reference: John 13:2 – 17;

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Preparation: Cut from cardboard tubes or create from stiff paper enough elbow sleeves to accommodate at least a couple of volunteers. These segments of tube will be slipped over the children’s arms to help illustrate the sermon. 

Makeshift Elbow Tube

Makeshift Elbow Tube

You know what “communion” means, right? When the congregation comes together to have bread and wine and to remember how Jesus gave his life for us, it is called communion. Today is World Communion Sunday but it doesn’t just mean the communion meal in church. The word “community” is a lot like “communion.” On World Communion Sunday, we remember that believers all over the world are part of our church community.

For a community to be healthy, all of the people in that community must take care of each other. We must learn to serve each other. On the evening of Jesus last supper with his disciples, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. This washing of the feet was usually the job of the lowliest servant in the household, but Jesus himself did this for his disciples to show them that this humble way of serving one another was the best way.

I brought something with me today to show you how community works, but first I need two volunteers. (Choose a couple of children whose arms will fit the cardboard sleeves you have made, and slide the sleeves onto their arms so that they can no longer bend their elbows.) Now that your “community sleeves” are in place, you can both enjoy a snack. (Place a bowl of round crackers in front of them and help instruct them in finding a way to eat the snack.)

You will notice that you can no longer feed yourself. In a community, if people are only concerned with feeding or helping themselves, the community will not be healthy. Some will be hungry or lonely or left out. But if you concentrate on feeding or helping the other first, then it works. (Encourage the volunteers to feed a cracker to each other.) When we help each other, everyone in the community will be fed.

In most churches, communion is given by the worship leader directly to the person receiving communion. In some cases, the bread is placed directly on the tongue of the person who is receiving communion. This is done to remind everyone in the congregation that it is God who has done the saving. It is not our own doing. God provided us with salvation through Jesus. God has given us so much, it is only right that we serve others in the community that is our whole world.

(Optional:) I’d like everyone to take a snack, but don’t eat it yourself. Serve your snack to someone else as a reminder that we live in a community that needs to help each other.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us the way of servant. Give us the strength and honesty and humility to serve others in our world community in your name.

Giving Up the Grudge

Children’s sermon from August 2015 at Lake Nojiri:

Swatting vs. Sympathy

Children’s Message on Prejudice vs. Sympathy

Scripture Reference: 1 Peter 3:8 – 9  

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”



Preparation: Bring a fly swatter and an example creepy crawly with you to illustrate the sermon.  

Have any of you ever been scared by an insect or an animal? (Let children respond.) What is your reaction if a moth or a grasshopper or a spider lands on your arm? If you are nervous or frightened of the creature, you shoo it away or go find the swatter and kill it. (Here you may share your own story of an encounter with a creepy crawly. My example follows.) The other night, I was climbing the steps of our cabin to turn the light on at the top of the stairs, when my shin brushed a spider web. I stopped and looked down to see that a spider had built a large web across the top of the staircase. This spider was huge! It seemed like it had built the web just to trap me and wrap me up. Compared to me, of course, this spider was small, but because I was scared, I still felt intimidated. I went back downstairs, grabbed a swatter and finished off the spider before it could scare me again.

We don’t like to feel scared. Some things that scare us, are just living their lives and not trying to scare us, but we sometimes react by wanting to hurt the thing that frightens us. If we are not scared of something, like butterflies, for example, we tend to leave them alone.

If I were a spider myself, would I want to go around killing all the spiders like me? Probably not. I would understand spiders better and consider spiders to be beautiful.

In 1 Peter 3:8, the Bible says, “be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” To be sympathetic or to have sympathy, you must understand another person and share their feelings. If you have sympathy, you will feel sad if you see someone else crying. If you have sympathy, you will no longer be afraid of another person. Perfect love casts out all fear.

God wants us to first understand the person, to first love the person, and then to share the Gospel. Although we might want to make another person more like ourselves so that we would no longer fear that person, God does not want us to make clones of ourselves. God wants to make each person more like Jesus. God wants a direct connection with each individual. Each person is very different, but God loves each individual for who they are.

Spiders have a job to do that is different from the job that I am meant to do. They are very different from me, just as many people in this world are very different from me. God calls us to be sympathetic; to humbly put ourselves in another person’s place.

So, think about swatting vs. sympathizing. Which is the best way to share God’s love? If I swat a spider, do I learn anything about spiders? Do I learn what they eat or why they build webs or how they are good for our environment? No. I just learn that I can kill a spider by swatting it. If I never listen to someone that is very different than me explain why they are the way that they are, do I ever learn anything about that person? If I swat them down with my words when they try to talk to me, will they listen to me when I tell them that Jesus loves them? Probably not. Sympathizing is better than swatting. Jesus sympathized. He did not swat. Jesus listened and loved and shared the Good News of God’s love.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for listening and loving. Teach us not to swat at those who are different than us. Help us instead to sympathize and love and listen. Help us to be humble witnesses for you.

From Abraham to Jesus

Children’s Message on the Genealogy of Jesus

Scripture Reference: Matt. 1:1-17  Jesus_Genealogy

Preparation: If your meeting space has a balcony or choir loft, you may make use of it for this message.

Do you know what a genealogy is? It’s a long list of names of people in a family. The very first verses of the Gospel of Matthew contain a long list of 42 generations. These would not be easy verses to memorize; lots and lots of names, but this list is important because it introduces us to Jesus.

In order to help us imagine what a genealogy is like, we are going to make a long line of people, holding hands, stretching down the middle of church. We need as many people as we can get. (Here, you may want to send a volunteer with a big voice up to the balcony or loft to be the eyes from above and answer questions later.) The first person in line just has to be themselves. That’s easy. The next person has to pretend to be the first person’s mom or dad. They represent the next generation. And you have to hold hands because this shows the connection between the generations. The next person after mom or dad, has to pretend to be the grandma or grandpa. (And so on, until you have a long family line stretched out as an object lesson.)

Now, with everyone lined up straight, and without stepping out of line, I’m wondering if the first person can see the last person in line? We are all stuck in the present time. We can see our moms and dads, our grandparents, and sometimes even our great-grandparents, but we can’t see much farther than that. We can’t jump back in time to meet our great-great-great grandparents, but they are really there in our genealogy. Can God see all of them? (Here you can have the person in the balcony be an example of how God can see all the generations at once. Ask the observer how many generations they can see.) God can see our whole family of faith, connected by birth and connected by our love for Jesus. Even though we can’t see the whole picture of God’s plan for our lives and for our family, God can see it.

Matthew starts out his Gospel with a long list of names that begins with Abraham and ends with Jesus. These people are not all perfect people; far from it. God works through people that make mistakes. God works through people like us. Even though we are not perfect and we do not always say and do things out of love, the message of God’s love gets passed along. God is faithful from one generation to the next. God connects us and loves each one in our family.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for being the strong connection of love that is passed down from one generation to the next. Help us to teach each other the important lessons of love. Amen.

Career Change

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Pentecost Proper 10

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Amos 7:12-15

Preparation (optional): You may bring paper and a marker to write down some careers that the children list during the sermon.

What do you want to be when you grow up? (Let the children respond; you may write their ideas on the paper.)

Our ideas about what we want to do or be probably will change as we get older; but they may not. Some people decide at a very young age what they want to do as an adult, and that desire stays with them. They end up doing the very thing they had always planned on doing.

The Old Testament lesson today is from the book of Amos. Do you know what job Amos had? He was a herdsman and took care of cows all day. He made sure they had enough water and food, and he protected them from wild animals. He also was a tree trimmer. If there was a big tree growing next to somebody’s house with a big branch hanging right over the roof, he might be asked to trim that branch back so that it wouldn’t fall on the house and smash the roof. Do you think that’s a job that you’d like to do?

Amos worked as a herdsman and a tree trimmer, but God had other plans for him. One day, God told Amos to go and speak God’s messages to the people of Israel—to be a prophet. This was not Amos’s idea. He never dreamed of being a prophet. A prophet told the people what God wanted them to do and how to live. It was a very important job. I’m sure that when Amos was standing out in the field with his cows he had no idea that one day he would be a prophet.

Amos had probably gotten used to being a herdsman and a tree trimmer. He might have been nervous about taking on the job of speaking God’s words to the people. What if the people didn’t listen and laughed at him? But God didn’t let Amos down. He taught Amos what to say. God was with Amos the entire time, and Amos was a good prophet.

It’s okay to make plans for our lives and to start thinking what we’d like to do when we get older. In fact, it’s a very good thing. But sometimes, suddenly, God will change our plans. This change may be surprising; it may make us nervous or even scared. But you know, God’s plans for us are always for good. And whatever it is God has for us to do, he will also show us how to do it and make us strong enough to do it.

No one can know for absolute certain what they’re going to do when they grow up. But I know one thing for sure. Each one of you always will be a child of God. Even when you’re all grown up, you’ll still be a child of God. That will never change. And that is a very, very good thing to be.

Prayer:  Dear God, as we grow up, help us decide what jobs we will have. Help us to learn your will for our lives. Thank you that we will always be your children.


Long Fuse

For the Sunday after the Fourth of July

(from Barefoot in the Snow)

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Biblical Reference:  Neh. 9:17  “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and full of unfailing love and mercy.

Preparation: Make a firecracker prop out of some of string and a cardboard tube. The entire tube, including the ends should be covered with colorful paper. A 20-foot piece of string should be inside the tube with a short end of the string sticking out the top.

We recently enjoyed a holiday that is often celebrated with fireworks, flags of red, white and blue, and firecrackers. Can anyone tell me what that holiday is? (Let children respond.) Yes! The 4th of July is the day that we celebrate our country’s independence.

Today, I brought along a pretend firecracker. If you were a firecracker and someone lit your fuse, what would happen when the fuse had burned all the way down? (Children can answer.) You would go “Bang!” Let’s try it. We’ll all pretend to be firecrackers. (You can act out a fuse disappearing and then yell “bang” a few times with the children.) Continue reading Long Fuse

Loss or Gain

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

From “Barefoot in the Snow”



Scripture Reference: Mark 8:27-35
Preparation: (Optional) Bring in a large gemstone or glass cut to look like a gemstone. You could have smaller glass gemstones to hand out to the kids at the very end of the message to remind them that their lives belong to Jesus.

Have any of you ever lost something? (Let children share their stories.) If you lose something, is it gone for good? You may never find it again, but sometimes something that we’ve lost does come back to us, doesn’t it? It feels pretty good to find something we thought was lost forever.

Imagine that each of us has a beautiful, precious jewel. It is our most prized treasure. We polish it every day, we admire it, and we keep it with us all the time. (Invite children to pretend to hold a precious jewel in their hands.) This jewel is our life. The jewel is a treasure that we dearly love but each of us knows that it has been given to us by God. One day, Jesus asks us to give the jewel back to him. Would you give Jesus your precious, sparkling jewel? Would it be difficult to do?

When we give up something that we dearly love, it is called a sacrifice. It may be very hard to do, but let’s pretend that each of us is able to give up our jewel. We give it to Jesus, and we are happy to give him our very best. (Have children offer their “jewels” to Jesus by raising their hands up to heaven.) Do you know what Jesus has to give to each of us in exchange for that one precious jewel? A crown of jewels awaits each of you in heaven. (Reach up and make a circle with your hands, representing a crown, and place the ‘crown’ on your head. Invite children to do the same.) God loves each one of you so much and wants to give you more than you can imagine.

Jesus once said, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the good news, you will find true life” (Mark 8:35 nlt).

The jewel that you treasure and want to keep is your life and the plans that you have for your future. Your life is very special and unique. Each one of you shines like a jewel. Jesus asks each of us to live for him and to give up our lives for him. But when we lose our lives to Jesus, what do we find? We find that Jesus gives back to us a life full of joy and love and thankfulness. For a single jewel, we have been given a splendid crown of many jewels. When you give your life to Jesus, it is not losing, it is gaining.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we return to you what you have first given us. Use our lives to help others and tell people about your love.

Connected to Divine

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Reference: John 15: 1 – 8 vinebranchgrapes
Preparation: Bring in a tree branch with leaves or a picture of a fruit tree branch. You could also bring in a bunch of grapes to share with the children at the end of the message.

Does anyone know what this is? (Show your branch or your picture of a branch with leaves or fruit on it. Let children respond.) Yes, it is a plant that bears fruit. If I cut the branch off of the tree, will the branch keep producing more fruit? No, it will eventually wither and die.

In the book of John, chapter 15, Jesus tells us that he is the vine and we are the branches. It order to be truly alive and in order to do great things with our lives (which is like producing fruit) we need to be connected to Jesus. We need to be praying and reading the Bible and listening to God. Jesus is holy. Another word for holy is “divine.” It’s easy to remember that word, because He is divine and we are “de branch.” But we need to stay connected to the holy or “divine” if we want to be really alive.

I have a game that we can play that helps show the importance of being connected. Sometimes this game is called “Ooh-Ahh” and you’ll see why. First we have to hold hands in a big circle. Once we’re all connected, I am going to squeeze the hand of the person on my right and I’m going to say, “Oooh!” As soon as they get that “Oooh” they have to pass it on to the person on their right. If we’re all connected, the “Oooh” should travel around the circle all the way back to me. Let’s try it! (Send the “Oooh” around the circle to your right.” Then you can try sending an “Aaah” around the other way. If your group is very attentive, they can handle both sounds at once in opposite directions.)

Now, would this work if we weren’t connected? If we refuse to connect to God, or to listen to God, can we hear what God is trying to say to us? It’s important to stay connected to the vine, to Divine, to Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to always stay connected to you, and to listen to you and to bear good fruit for you.


Not Seeing but Believing

Second Sunday of Easter

From “Scolding the Snakes”

Scripture Reference: John 20:19-31 

Preparation: Bring a paper fan (one you’ve purchased or made yourself) and a small whistle.

How many of you have heard the expression, “I’d have to see it to believe it”? Maybe some of you have used that expression yourselves. Let’s say your brother is learning how to skateboard, and one day he comes running in to tell you that he can do an amazing trick on the skateboard. You might say, “I’d have to see that to believe it!” And until you actually see him perform the trick on the skateboard, you won’t believe he can actually do it.

Do we always have to be able to see things in order to believe they exist? What are some things that we can’t see but still know are there? (Let kids share their thoughts.) We can’t see the air all around us, but when the wind is blowing, we can feel the air, or we can see the things it moves. (Use fan to illustrate air movement—maybe letting it move a scrap of paper.) We can’t see sound waves, but when we hear a loud noise (use whistle to illustrate sound), we know that sound is real. We can’t see the love that our parents and friends have for us, but we feel their hugs and hear their loving words, and we know that their love is real.

Can we see Jesus—the real Jesus, not just pictures of him? (Let kids respond.) How do we know he’s real? (Children may share their thoughts.) We believe what the Bible says. We feel Jesus’ love in our hearts. And we can see the way people change—the way they become kinder and happier—when they believe in Jesus and let him into their lives. We can’t say that we have seen Jesus with our own eyes. Still, we believe in him.

Today’s Gospel lesson from the book of John tells the story of a disciple named Thomas, who did not believe Jesus came back to life. Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his other disciples, but Thomas wasn’t with them; he didn’t see Jesus. Thomas would not believe that Jesus was alive unless he could see Jesus and touch him.

Then, some days after Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples were together again—and this time Thomas was with them. Suddenly Jesus appeared, and he told Thomas to touch the nail wounds in his hands and feel the spear wound in his side. Jesus wanted Thomas to stop doubting. Finally Thomas believed. Jesus said, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway” (John 20:29 NLT).

You are blessed. All of us are blessed. We have not seen or touched Jesus, but still we believe that Jesus is alive.

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for being alive and for being here with us. And thank you for helping us to believe that you will always be with us. Amen

Listening for the “Love”

A puppet conversation for Easter Sunday


Folkmanis Puppet

Me:   Happy Easter everyone! The Lord is risen! You know that the early Christians would greet each other that way on Easter morning? The first person would say, “The Lord is risen!” And the next person would say, “He is risen indeed!” And then they would both say, “Hallelujah!” Do you want to try it?

(Do the call-and-response with the children several times.)

I brought my friend, Baabara the Lamb, with me today. She said that she wanted to come to church today so that she could listen. She wants to listen to the music and songs. She wants to listen to the sermon.

Baabara:   And I want to listen to the “Hallelujahs.” You don’t often get to hear people say, “Hallelujah.” It’s a wonderful word. Can you say it again?

(Have everyone say, “Hallelujah!”)

Baabara:   I know how to say “Hallelujah” in another language. I can say it in sheep language.

Me:   That’s right! Sheep-speak is your native tongue, isn’t it? Okay what is “Hallelujah” in Sheep-speak?

Baabara: “BAAA-LE-LUJAH!”

Me:   Really? Bah-le-lu-jah?

Baabara:   Well, your pronunciation is not very good. It’s not “Bah-le-lu-jah” it’s “BAAA-LE-LUJAH!”


Baabara:   No… that sounds more like Goat-speak than Sheep-speak. It’s okay. I understand. You’re not a native speaker.

Me:   If I had gone to Lamb Kindergarten and grown up speaking sheep, I’m sure I would do a lot better.

Baabara:   Probably. Yeah. You’ve got to have an ear for language. It helps to be a good listener.

Me:   That’s true. Good listeners can learn new languages faster. By the way, the sermon today is about “Hearing Jesus.” Did you know that?

Baabara:   What does Jesus’ voice sound like?

Me:   Well, like the voice of a shepherd, I suppose. I’m sure that sheep can understand that. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, after all.

Baabara:   That makes sense. I am always happy to hear to hear the voice of my shepherd because that means that the shepherd is nearby and is watching over me. But, actually… I’m not always, always happy to hear my shepherd’s voice.

Me:   Really? Why wouldn’t you be happy to hear the shepherd’s voice?

Baabara:   Well, sometimes when I’m exploring and doing some she says things like, “Get back here this instant before you fall off of that cliff!”

Me:   But that’s a good thing, isn’t it? You don’t want to fall off of a cliff.

Baabara:   I’m sure I would have seen the cliff in time.

Me: Maybe not. It’s the shepherd’s job to keep the sheep safe.

Baabara:   But sometimes that shepherd can be bossy. Like in the morning, she sometimes says, “No you cannot have candy bars for breakfast… you have to have fresh green grass.” I mean who eats fresh green grass for breakfast nowadays?

Me:   Ummm… sheep do. Grass is healthy food for sheep, so the shepherd makes sure that’s what they eat. It’s good to have healthy food. You don’t often hear about sheep getting diabetes or heart disease or cancer, do you?

Baabara:   Ok; you’ve got a point there. I’m listening. This Easter, I will eat grass and flowers, ‘cause that’s what’s good for sheep… and maybe just one chocolate egg.

Me:   You are a good listener, Baabara. We humans don’t always listen. I think humans have some of the same problems as sheep.

Baabara:   Really? You get all of your wool sheared off in the Spring before it really warms up enough? Brrr. Don’t you hate it when that happens? And you feel so naked.

Me:   No, humans don’t get sheared. But we sometimes don’t listen to the voice of our Shepherd. The disciples didn’t listen when Jesus told them that he would die on the cross and then be raised up to life again. When Jesus died on Good Friday, they were heartbroken and thought that they would never see him again.

Baabara:   That must have been terrible!

Me:   But then Jesus came back to life on Easter Sunday and the disciples were overjoyed! They were so happy to see their friend and their Lord alive again.

Baabara:   But why did Jesus have to die in the first place?

Me:   Well, if the disciples had listened carefully, they would have understood that Jesus was going to die on the cross to save the world from sin and death. By dying on the cross, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was saying something very important to the whole world.

Baabara:   What was he saying?

Me:   Jesus was saying, “I love you.”

Baabara:   I guess I need to listen to what the shepherd is really saying when she says, “Baabara! Get back here right now!” or “No, you can’t have candy bars for breakfast.” What she’s really saying is, “I love you.”

Me:   That is very insightful. Sometimes we don’t recognize when people are telling us, “I love you.” Sometimes we don’t hear God telling us, “I love you.” We need to listen closely. That’s the message of Easter. God loves the world so much that he sends his only son to die for us to save us from sin and death.

Baabara:   At Easter, God says, “I love you.”

Me:   You’re a good listener, Baabara. Thanks for coming to church with me this Sunday.

Baabara:   Thanks for inviting me.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Thank you for being our Good Shepherd. Help us to listen to your voice and to hear the many times every day that you say to us, “I love you.” Amen.