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Staring or Preparing?

 A 5-minute children’s sermon for Ascension Sunday is embedded below. You have permission to use this video to augment an online Sunday service broadcast.

What should we be doing while waiting for Jesus to return? Simply staring up at the sky? After Jesus ascended to heaven on Mount Olivet, the disciples were left standing there, staring and reluctant to move until a couple of angels appeared. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

It was time to stop staring and start preparing by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Before Jesus ascended into heaven to return to the Father, he said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The disciples had work to do.

Spreading the Good News of the Gospel is like planting seeds. You hope that the person who hears about God’s love will accept the message and love God in return. Likewise, when you sow a seed into the ground, you hope that the plant will grow and produce something beautiful or nutritious.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to spread the Gospel of your love for all to everyone that we meet.

Ascension Sunday

Today is the seventh Sunday, the last Sunday of the Easter season. If you were going into the church, into the sanctuary for worship services, you would see the color white on the altar and the pulpit. The pastor might be wearing a white stole draped over the robe. White is the color of Easter. This is the last Sunday in the Easter season, and then comes the celebration of Pentecost. That’s when the color changes to red.

WhiteParaments

So the Easter season of the church year is still here. Jesus died and rose from the grave. Then he went up into heaven to be with God the Father again. When Jesus returned to heaven, it was called the “Ascension.” Before Jesus ascended, he promised his disciples that even though they would not see him with their eyes, he would be with them always in their hearts. The Holy Spirit would be with them to guide them and let them know that God was always with them.

ascension

On Ascension Day, Jesus went up, (or ascended) into heaven right before the disciples’ eyes, on Mount Olivet. And they were so amazed, that they stood there looking up, not moving for a long time. They didn’t move, in fact, until two angels, sent from God, spoke to them and asked them what they were doing. The angels assured them that Jesus would be back. He was not gone forever.

The disciples finally came down from the mountain and began to pray and to wait for the Holy Spirit to come to them.

It was hard for them to come down from that mountain, the last place that they were able to see their beloved Jesus. But they could not stay on the mountain forever. Jesus wanted them to tell the world about his love. Jesus had told them, “You will be my witnesses here in Jerusalem and all over the earth.”

Because those disciples did come down from the mountain, and did tell others about Jesus, the Gospel has reached every country and every language in the entire world. That is something to celebrate. And we can continue to spread the message of God’s love to all the people that we know.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for always being with us, even when we cannot see you with our eyes. Help us to tell others about your love, all over the world. Amen.

Abiding – Tree and Branch

Kidsermons – May 17, 2020  —  6th Sunday of Easter – Year A – RCL

Video sermon link available at bottom of page!

Abide-Baabara 2

Scripture: John 14:15-21 (NRSV)

Jesus said, ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. 

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Today is the sixth Sunday of the Easter season. The Easter season of the church year is still here. Jesus died and rose from the grave. Then he went up into heaven to be with God the Father again. But before he went, he promised his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them. Jesus said, “You know (the Spirit) because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”

The word, “abide” means to be closely connected, like the feeling of wanting to stay close to home. Nowadays, with the COVID-19 virus still being passed from person to person, we all need to stay close to home to be safe. But “abide” means to be so closely connected that the relationship goes both ways. Like a grape branch connected to the grape vine, the connection is a life-giving one. The leaves of the branch collect energy from the sun and that flows into the main vine. And the water absorbed from the ground by the main vine flows up into the branch, to keep the leaves green.

vine and branch

When the Spirit of God abides with us or lives in us, we are solidly connected with God. Jesus is our life. Our hearts are full of life and joy because of that connection. We communicate through prayer and reading God’s word. God will never leave us. The main vine does not cut off its own branches. If we decide that we want to leave God, and we want to cut ourselves off from God, then the connection is broken. That, for us, is a spiritual death.

If you want to see what this looks like, you could go outside and cut a small branch off from a sprouting tree or bush, and then bring it into the house. How long does that branch stay green and alive when it is cut off from the main plant? You can keep it green for a while, if you put it in water, but it will eventually die apart from the tree.

God wants to be connected with us. God wants to abide with us. How do we stay connected? We pray to God. We read the Bible. We talk to others about God. We listen to what God is saying to our hearts. Lately, it is harder to stay connected to people, but it’s not impossible. We call people on the phone. We chat with our family and friends over computers and digital devices. In that way we stay connected, even though we cannot physically touch them. In the same way, we need to stay connected with God. “Abide with me,” says Jesus. May the Spirit abide in us deeply and keep us strong in our faith.

Let’s pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to stay connected with you. Help us to remember to pray and to listen for your voice. Be with our family and friends and help us to keep those connections strong, even when we cannot see them in person or give them hugs. Thank you for your love that will not ever let us go. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

“The Abiding Tree” video children’s message!

Note from author: Permission granted to churches to use the video message in online services.

Waiting for the Blossom

LambandDaffodil

We are all trapped in a time of waiting. The world is waiting for it to be safe once again to go outside and meet up with friends. The world is waiting, staying put for safety, knowing that we are helping others by keeping our distance. It seems like a long time to wait.

I wonder if any of you have ever tried watching a flower that’s all closed up. The flower will eventually bloom; it just takes time. Trying to pull the flower open will not help. That will only damage the flower. For some things, you just have to wait patiently. Eventually you will be rewarded by getting to see a beautiful flower opened up to the sun.

When Jesus was walking around here on earth, the Jewish people, God’s chosen ones, were waiting. They were waiting for the Messiah, a Savior who had been promised by God. They trusted that the Messiah would come, but they did not know when or where. They may not have known it, but they were waiting for Jesus.

The coming of Jesus is sometimes described as a flower blooming. Here is a song that we sometimes sing at Christmas:

“Lo, how a rose is blooming; from tender stem has sprung. From Jesse’s family coming, as men of old have sung.” 

The prophets in the Old Testament told us that the Messiah, Jesus, was coming. But this birth was a long time in coming.

Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus being revealed for who He really is. Like a flower opening up, the people finally saw the beauty, the truth of Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus was the one! Jesus was the Savior! The people in Jerusalem knew that this was true and so they had a parade.

As Jesus came riding into town, seated on a young donkey, the people cut down palm branches and waved them overhead as a sign of welcome and celebration. They were so happy that the time of waiting was over.

This Palm Sunday, we celebrate that Jesus is our Savior but we are sad that we cannot all celebrate together in church. We are waiting. We are waiting for this virus danger to pass, but we are also waiting for Jesus to come again. And while we wait for both, God wants us to be patient and above all, to be loving towards others. We show love in our words and actions, especially in our families. We are spending lots of time with our families now and we need an extra share of love and patience.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, help us to be loving and patient while we wait. We trust that the world will open up once more like a flower blooms in the spring. We thank you for sending Jesus to be our loving Savior. Watch over all of us on this Palm Sunday. Amen.

Baaabara and the Blossom


Continue reading Waiting for the Blossom

Kidsermons is Back!

JOEEwLambI’m sorry for the long delay in posting to Kidsermons. I’ve been working full-time as a teacher-librarian at a Christian K – 12 school here in Tokyo, and starting up a non-profit foundation called JOEE, “Joyful Opportunity English Education.” The website is up now at: http://joee.jp  Take a look if you are interested in a ministry that brings active and entertaining English lessons to kids growing up in orphanages and children’s homes in Japan.IMG_0997

I will be posting a weekly video children’s sermon along with the text in case pastors would like to include it in their online weekly worship service broadcasts. Thank you for continuing to connect with your congregations remotely and keeping them safe by practicing social distancing during these difficult times dealing with a global pandemic.

Let me help you in any way that I can. I will try to respond to messages in a timely fashion, but I do have multiple responsibilities currently. I am also attempting to teach students, read stories and provide English instruction through JOEE all through the use of video conferencing and posted YouTube video links.

Keep logging in to Kidsermons.com for youth ministry resources! God bless you as you continue to safely care for your flock.

#youthministry, #pastors, #resource, #children, #sermon, #Sunday, #outreach

WorldPuppetPoemDay

Without a Doubt

Transfiguration Sunday

From “Saving the Ants” (Download book at left!) 

Scripture Reference: Matt. 17:1-8 and Luke 9:28-36

Preparation: Bring a lamp or flashlight with a translucent shade that allows a little, but not all, of the light to show through. Have the light shining as you begin your talk.  lamp_light

Do you know what this Sunday is? It isn’t Easter or Christmas, is it? No, but today we do celebrate a very important happening in Jesus’ life. Today is Transfiguration Sunday. One day Jesus took three of his disciples away from the crowds that usually followed Jesus around and they went on a long hike. Those four friends hiked up a big mountain and when they got to the top of the mountain, do you know what happened?

Jesus was transfigured in front of those disciples. His face shone like the sun and his garments were glowing white. Do you think the disciples were surprised? They’d never seen Jesus like this; usually he looked ordinary and human just like them. And Jesus was human, but his disciples knew he was also special. They knew that he was God’s own Son, the Savior of the world. But maybe they sometimes forgot just how powerful and amazing he was. Perhaps they doubted that he was the Son of God.

The disciples knew that Jesus was the Light of the world; he had told them so. They had seen in his life, words, and miracles, a glimpse of the glory of God. It was as if they were looking at a lamp with its light shaded from view, sort of like this lamp. (Show lamp with shade.) When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, it’s as if the shade was taken away and the disciples could see the true brightness of God’s glory.

Well do you know what happened next? A bright cloud came over them and God’s voice came from the cloud and said, “This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him. Listen to him” (Matt. 17:5 NLT). Do you think those disciples had any doubts about who Jesus was at that moment? There was no doubt about it. Jesus was God’s Son. He was shining with heaven’s glory; God was speaking. There was no doubt.

This Sunday we remember what happened on that mountain, and we know without a doubt who Jesus really is. He is God’s own Son, the Savior of the world.

Prayer:  We praise you, Jesus, God’s own son, the Savior of the world. Remind us every day of your power and your glory. 

Shepherd and Door

4th Sunday of Easter

From “Saving the Ants”

Scripture Reference: John 10:1-10   Door-of-the-Sheepfold

Preparation (Optional): You can bring a picture of Jesus as the Shepherd or point out a picture in the church. Show your illustration after asking the children if they know who the Good Shepherd is. Pick your volunteer “wolf” out ahead of time.

Who is the Good Shepherd? Can anyone tell me? (Let children respond.) Yes, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. (You may show your illustration here.) In the Gospel lesson read today, Jesus says, “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7 NLT). So besides being a shepherd, Jesus is the door.

Did you know that in Bible times, a couple thousand years ago, being a door was part of a shepherd’s job? The sheep pen was usually a stone wall built in a circle with only one opening. So after the shepherd had gathered all the sheep into the pen for the night, he would have to lie down across the opening to guard the sheep. The only way a wolf could get in was through that door, so the wolf would have to deal with the shepherd first. Do you think a good shepherd would let a wolf through that door? No sir! The shepherd would drive the wolf away!

Let’s see if we can build a sheep pen here at the front of the church. I need some volunteers to be part of the wall. (Choose some kids and help to arrange them.) You stones sit here along the altar rail and don’t move. You’re part of the wall. We’ll pretend that the wall goes all along the altar rail, so a wolf can’t get in that way. We’ll leave an opening here for the doorway.

Now the rest of you are sheep. It’s getting dark, so you’d better get into the fold. You’ll be safe there. Now, I need a good shepherd. The good shepherd comes over here and lies down in the doorway. The shepherd is the door to the sheep fold. It’s a good thing too, because there’s a big, scary-looking wolf out here who’s on the prowl for a late-night snack of leg-of-lamb. See the wolf? (Choose somebody ahead of time from the congregation who would be willing to help.)

The wolf is going to try to sneak past the shepherd without waking him up to get at the sheep. If the shepherd touches the wolf, then the wolf has to run away and the sheep are safe. (Let players act it out.)

Thank you, shepherd, for protecting the sheep. We can be thankful that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and that he always watches over us. We remember that Jesus gave up his own life to save us from sin and death.

Prayer:  Dear Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. Thank you for keeping us in your care.

The Empty Egg; an Easter Puppet Show

An original Kidsermons Puppet Show based on (John 20 : 1 – 18)

Cast: Mercy (Muppet-style puppet), Frannie Funzle (a Funzle), Kit Fox (a fox puppet with a clerical collar) and Gloria (a goose puppet), Gosling (a baby duckling puppet) and a human usher.

Props: 3 Easter egg baskets, empty shell of a real egg in one of the Easter baskets

Original Cast:  Mercy: Betsy  Frannie: Jill  Gloria: Ruth  Kit Fox: Pastor Teresa  Gosling: Elsa  Usher: Karen

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Mercy(Enters holding a basket of Easter eggs.)  Just look at all the eggs I found! How egg-citing! What a great Easter egg hunt that was!

Frannie Funzle: (Enters also holding a basket of eggs.) Egg-sactly! There were eggs all over! And lots of little kids running around too. And they were kind of in the way! I had to push a few of them aside just to get at my eggs.

Mercy:  Frannie Funzle! You are not supposed to push the kids away. Those eggs are especially for the little kids! It is the only time in the year that they get to run around and find eggs, you know. And aren’t you a little old for Easter egg hunts?

Frannie Funzle: Too old? Just what are you implying? One is never too old to have fun! And anyways, you joined in the egg hunt! And you’re no spring chicken yourself.

Gloria: (Starts to holler off-stage…) Where is it? It’s missing! I can’t find it anywhere…

Mercy:  Hey! Speaking of spring chickens, here comes Gloria N. Eggshells!

Frannie: She is not a chicken. She is a goose. And she looks very upset.

Gloria: (Enters, pacing back and forth; frantically looking for something.) Oh woe is me! Woe is me!

Mercy:  Whoah there Gloria! Whoah! Slow down. What’s wrong?

Gloria:  I am looking for my egg!

Frannie:  Of course you’re looking for an egg. It’s Easter and everyone is looking for an egg.

Gloria:  You don’t understand. I am looking for MY egg! MY egg! Someone stole my egg!

Frannie:  Oh stop being so hysterical. There are enough Easter eggs for everyone. And they don’t just belong to you. “My egg” indeed! And don’t go looking in my Easter basket either. I found these eggs fair and square. Well, they’re not square really. They’re more of an elongated sphere actually, but you know what I mean.

Mercy:  Frannie, I don’t think poor Gloria is talking about Easter eggs.

Gloria:  Egg-sactly! I am not interested in your plastic Easter eggs. I am looking for MY egg, and I do not lay plastic eggs! Do you have plastic children? Really now! What were you thinking?

Frannie: Well, where did you last see your egg?

Gloria:  I laid my lovely egg about four weeks ago in a lovely little basket nest filled with soft grass. This morning, I got up to eat a few luscious snails and when I returned the entire nest was gone and with it… MY EGG!

Mercy:  Oh dear! You must be egg-cedingly sad!

Frannie: And egg-ceptionally upset!

Mercy:  Must be egg-crutiating!

Frannie:  Oooh. That’s a good one… let me see… and egg-cessively troubled!

Gloria:  Will you two stop it with the egg jokes! This is serious! My egg is missing and you two are trying to top each other with egg jokes.

Frannie:  You are absolutely right, Gloria. There is simply no egg-cuse for our behavior!

Mercy:  (Laughing.) “Egg-scuse.” Oh that’s a good one! You crack me up!

Gloria:  Will you quit egging her on?!

Mercy and Frannie:  “Egging her on!” (Mercy and Frannie start laughing again.)

Gloria:  Oh great! Now you’ve got me doing it! Are you going to help me find my egg or not?! (Starts to cry.) My lovely egg is gone!

Frannie:  We’re very sorry, Gloria. Oh course we’ll help you look for your egg.

Kit Fox:  Happy Easter everyone! Look at all the eggs I found! Isn’t it EGG-citing? Get it? EGG-citing? …. What? Why the long faces?

Mercy:  Kit Fox, Gloria has lost her egg… her own egg.

Frannie: Yes, the one she laid about a month ago in a basket-shaped nest on a bed of soft grass.

Kit Fox:  Well, I’ve been eating lots of eggs this morning! And they have been delicious!

Gloria:  You insensitive brute! You ate my egg! You devoured my baby!

Kit Fox:  Wait just a minute. There is no way that I would ever eat an 28 day-old egg! I only eat fresh eggs. And, for your information, I only eat un-fertilized eggs.

Mercy:  What does UN-fertilized mean?

Frannie: Never mind dear. I’ll explain it to you when you’re older.

(Usher enters from back of church with a basket containing an empty egg shell.)

Usher:  Is anyone missing a basket? I found this one outside with just an empty eggshell inside.

Gloria:  My nest! You found my nest. But the egg… it’s been cracked open and it’s empty. The egg is empty. All is lost!

Kit Fox:  Gloria! Wait! Don’t cry. All is not lost. That’s wonderful news. The egg is empty!

Frannie:  How can you be so callous and insensitive? You, sir, are a callous and callow Cadbury cad! And a scoundrel. She finds her lost egg and it’s empty! Her baby has been stolen and you say this is Good News? What is wrong with you?

Kit Fox:  I went to seminary! And I paid attention in Biology class! I can tell you why this is Good News and why it is a perfect event for Easter Sunday. The empty egg! It’s just like the empty tomb.

Gloria:  You’d better explain yourself Kit Fox!

Kit Fox: Early Sunday morning, the Bible tells us that two women went to the tomb of Jesus, expecting to find the tomb all closed up and the body of Jesus inside. They thought he was dead. But when they got to the tomb, it was cracked open… sort of like your egg, Gloria, and there was no body inside.

Gloria:  Someone stole the body?!

Kit Fox: No, no. That’s just what the women thought too, but then an angel appeared and explained that Jesus had risen. He is alive! That is the message of Easter. The tomb is empty and Jesus is alive.

Gloria:  So that means that my egg is empty because….

Gosling: (Appears near Gloria.) Peep! Peep! Mama?

Gloria:  My baby! My little hatchling!

Gosling:  Mama! Peep!

Gloria:  You’re alive! Oh Happy Easter my little peeper! Happy Easter everyone!

Kit Fox:  The Lord is risen!

All: He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!

(Music plays; puppet dance and exit.)


A Palm Sunday Carpet

Note: Dog story followed by children’s sermon:

BjornwPalm-300x289The palm branches brought in by our pastor for this Palm Sunday were augmented by large fan-shaped branches gleaned from the nearby woods here in Tokyo, and carried in by eager middle schoolers to create a very green and festive opening hymn processional. As the parade of Sunday School students ended, many of the large branches were placed on the floor at the front of the church where the children typically gather for the kids’ sermon. It made an inviting carpet and the children who came forward to hear the message were thrilled with the opportunity to stretch out on a mat of live greenery. Some even lay down to press their cheeks against the cool, green smoothness of the leaves. It was a perfect listening environment for a Palm Sunday message.

After the service, the children were encouraged to carry their branches home to remind them that it is now Holy Week. Everyone seemed to want to carry a branch, even our dog, who sometimes waits for us in the courtyard during the service. Seeing a branch waving temptingly close to his snout, Bjorn, the ever-eager Golden Retriever, snatched up a palm frond and trotted about, proudly with both tail and palm waving triumphantly in the air. Let all creatures praise the Lord!

From “Saving the Ants” (Download book at left!)

Scripture Reference: Matt. 21:1-11 

Preparation: Bring a large palm branch to signal the shouts of “Hosanna!” If possible, bring palm leaves to hand out to the children.

Today is Palm Sunday! Do you know what happened on Palm Sunday? There was a parade. How many of you have been to a parade? They’re exciting to watch, aren’t they? There are lots of people lining the streets, waiting to see the action. There’s lots of noise; marching bands and horns; people yelling, laughing, and dancing; clowns throwing candy and kids running around. It’s bright, colorful, and noisy.

I like parades. I want you to imagine that you’re all sitting by the side of a dusty road, waiting for a parade to start. You got up early to get a good seat and you’re waiting. You wait for a long time, but you don’t hear anything. Finally you hear voices, shouting, singing, laughing. You see dust rising at the end of the road.

Someone’s coming! First you see the people with palm branches, waving them around, and throwing them on the ground. Then you see colorful blankets thrown on top of the dust, making a tapestry path for someone important. Finally, you see the guest of honor, the King, making his triumphant entry into Jerusalem! You expect him to be riding in a fine chariot drawn by splendid horses, or at least in a fancy seat carried by servants. But that is not the way that this King arrived in Jerusalem. How did he make his entrance? (Children may answer.)

He came riding on a young donkey. Have you ever seen a parade that consisted solely of one man riding on a donkey? It may not sound that exciting, but this was King Jesus, the man who could do miracles and heal people. The crowd knew who he was, and they went wild! They yelled, waved palm branches, and threw their coats on the road! Did they make a lot of noise? They sure did! The whole city heard them! Everyone came running.

We’re going to hand out these palm leaves for you to wave, and I’d like everyone on this side to yell, “Hosanna!” and everyone over here to yell, “Blessed are you, King Jesus!” When I raise this big palm branch, you can start yelling. If I raise it really high, you can yell really loud. When I lower the branch down, stop yelling, okay?

Let’s see what Palm Sunday might have sounded like! (Raise palm branch and encourage everyone, including grown-ups, to join in.) Hosanna to the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!

 

Sweet Temptation

First Sunday in Lent

From “Saving the Ants” (Download book at left!) 

Scripture Reference: Matt. 4:1-11

Preparation: Preparation: Bring wrapped candies to pass out.  

This morning, I want to find out how strong all of you are. Do you think you are stronger than something about the size of an ant? Could you beat an ant in a wrestling match? (Let children respond.) I’m sure you could! How about a little beetle? Are you stronger than a beetle? Probably.

Well, I’ve got something in my sack here that’s about this big. (Indicate with thumb and forefinger about one-half to one inch.) Do you think you’re stronger than something that big? Okay, I’ll show you what I have. Candies! No, I don’t want you to have a wrestling match with candy. I don’t want to see how strong these muscles are. (Indicate biceps.) I want to see how strong you are inside. We’re reading a lot of verses this Sunday about temptation. Does anyone know what temptation is? (Let children answer.) It’s seeing something that you really want, but knowing that you should not take it, or wanting to do something that you know you shouldn’t do. Has this ever happened to any of you? (Listen to stories offered.) I know it’s happened to all of us grown-ups here.

Temptation can be really tough to deal with. It’s hard to resist. Sometimes we really need to pray to God and ask for help. “Please God help me from taking that candy!” or “Dear God, I’m really mad at my sister and I want to hit her. Please help me not to!” With God’s help you can resist temptation. Now I’m going to give everyone of you a little temptation; and I’m going to ask you to not unwrap it or eat it until after the service and not until your feet have stepped outside of this church building, then it’s okay to eat it as long as your folks agree. So while you’re here in church, try to resist the temptation to eat it, because you’re really not supposed to eat in church. You’ve got to wait. If you can wait, then you’ve won a small battle and you will be stronger! (Hand out wrapped candies.)

Prayer: Lord, give us the strength to resist doing those things that we should not do. Now if you don’t think you’re strong enough, you can give your temptation to your folks to hold for you… that is as long as they’re strong enough to resist it. Okay, the resistance army can march back to their pews now. Be strong in the Lord!