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A Light in the Darkness – or the Epiphany Christmas Cave

Baabara the sheep and Hamlet the pig have built a cozy blanket cave under the Christmas tree. They are hiding from the New Year, 2021, afraid that it will bring new disasters. What good news can help two worried animals as they look for light in the darkness? And can it be true that Christmas lasts all the way to Epiphany? Cozy up with some furry friends for a lesson on finding glimmers of hope in the midst of trouble.

“In the beginning was the Word…in Him was life, and the life was the light for all people.”

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All Are Welcome at the Manger

Grudge the rat is worried. Would a rat be welcome at the manger? Rats are often chased away and he wonders if among the cows and sheep in the nativity scene, perhaps there might have been room for a small rat. Baabara the sheep assures him that all are welcome at the manger. Jesus came to earth to make sure that everyone knew that they were loved and included in God’s family.

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A Gabriel Gift

For the 4th Sunday in Advent – RCL – Year B – Scripture: Luke 1:30-31

Hamlet the pig can hardly wait for Christmas. Why is it so hard to wait for good things to arrive? Did Mary have trouble waiting? After all, she had to wait nine months after being told by the angel Gabriel that a wonderful gift to the world was on its way. Baabara the sheep has a surprise for Hamlet, to help him wait for Christmas… a “Gabriel Gift” to be opened on the fourth Sunday of Advent. What’s a “Gabriel Gift?” Watch and find out!

John the Moon-Baptist

A children’s message for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. RCL Year B. Scripture Reference: John 1:6-8

Hamlet the Pig trots outside in the cold of December to search the skies for… John the Baptist? Why does he think that the moon is John the Baptist? Might it have something to do with John 1:6-8? “John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.” (NLT)

See script below for reference: – Dec. 10, 2020:

Hamlet: Hey! That’s too bright! Turn off that light… I can’t see John the Baptist with that light shining in my eyes.


Me: What? You can’t see “John the Baptist?” Hamlet what are you doing outside at night, and what do you mean, you can’t see John the Baptist?


Hamlet: Well, Baabara was reading to me from the Bible today about how John the Baptist was sent ahead of Jesus to get people ready to listen to Jesus.


Me: Yes, the Bible says, “John the Baptist came as a witness to point to the light, so that all might believe through him.” I did hear you two talking about that. But that does not explain why you are outside here in the dark.


Hamlet: Baabara said that John the Baptist was the moon! So I came out here to see John the Baptist for myself.


Me: Oh, Hamlet! I think you might need to clean out your ears a bit.. Baabara said that John the Baptist was “like the moon.” She didn’t say John the Baptist was the moon!” 


Hamlet: Oh. So I’m not going to get to see John the Baptist?


Me: No, but you might get to see the moon tonight.


Hamlet: How is John the Baptist like the moon?


Me: Well, the moon does not create any light of its own. It just reflects the light from the sun back to the earth. John the Baptist told people very clearly that he was not the Light; he just was a witness to the light… a reflection of the light. He was there to point people to Jesus, the true Light of the world.


Hamlet: So the moon is sort of like John the Baptist.


Me: That’s right. Long ago, people thought that the moon was a source of light… that it produced its own brightness. But now we know that it only reflects the light from the sun.


Hamlet: I want to be like the moon.


Me: You do? What do you mean?


Hamlet: I want to reflect God’s light to the world. How do I do that? I can’t get up into the sky like the moon. Pigs don’t fly you know.


Me: Yes, I know that pigs don’t fly. But you can reflect the Light of the world by showing God’s love to others. You can be kind and caring and let people know that Jesus loves them. You can reflect the love of God in the things that you do and the kind words that you speak.


Hamlet: I can do that! I will practice on Baabara and then I will try to be kind to Grudge the Rat… even though that is more difficult.


Me: Sounds like a good plan, Hamlet. Now can we go back inside because it’s freezing out here. The moon is just not a very good source of heat.


Hamlet: Okay. My hooves are freezing. Can I have a cup of hot chocolate? 


Me: Good idea.


Hamlet: With a big marshmallow?


Me: Sure.


Hamlet: Or maybe two marshmallows… or maybe just a bowl of marshmallows with hot chocolate poured on top?

Prepare Ye the Way – 2nd Sunday of Advent

“Where have all the flowers gone?” Baabara the sheep wants to know when she visits the garden on the second Sunday of Advent. “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” John the Baptist came to prepare the world for the coming of Jesus. Advent is a time of waiting and preparation. And, as Baabara learns, the flowers in the garden prepare in their own way for the coming of spring. How are you preparing, during this Advent, for the coming of Jesus?

Scripture Reference: Mark 1: 1-8 “‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Lectionary Reading – Year B – 2nd Sunday of Advent

The Rat Who Would Be King

What are the qualities of a good and respected leader? Do they shout? Do they bully their citizens into compliance? Or are they gentle and wise? Grudge the Rat is practicing his “kingship” acceptance speech. He is determined to be a loud and bossy king… until his friend, Baabara the sheep, points out that kings aren’t elected. And respected leaders aren’t necessarily bossy. Grudge the Rat learns some valuable lessons about the often-overlooked “Fruit of the Spirit,” Gentleness.

Scripture reference: Galatians 5:22 – 23

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Oh My Goodness! A Fruit of the Spirit!

What happens to a pumpkin that has just a small bad spot on it? What is it like inside? Hamlet the pig learns about another part of the “Fruit of the Spirit,” goodness. If we ignore the little things that are bad in our hearts, we put our whole selves at risk. But what Hamlet really wants to know is… how soon can we make that pumpkin pie?! Join us in the pumpkin patch for a look at goodness. — Galatians 5:22-23

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Patience Pie and the Pig

Scripture: Galatians 5:22-23 “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” – New Living Translation

Hamlet the pig has a hankering for pie – apple pie to be precise. It’s just come out of the oven and it’s right under his nose. He’d love to dive right in, but he needs to be patient. He needs to learn about the fourth fruit of the Sprit, “patience,” and why it is so important. A little bit of patience can protect this pig from a seared snout.

Two-Faced

For Proper 21

From “Saving the Ants” by Ruth Gilmore

Matt. 21: 28 – 32  “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.”  TwoFaced_Janus

Preparation: Bring a couple of Halloween or theater masks that aren’t too scary.

I brought along a couple of extra faces this morning. (Put masks on briefly.) Here is one face, and here’s another. Is this really my face? No, it’s a mask, isn’t it? I don’t really have more than one face.

Have you ever heard of someone being “two-faced”? It doesn’t mean that you actually have two faces, but it means that you sometimes act in two very different or opposite ways. For example, if Jane told Mary, “I really like you, Mary. You’re my best friend,” and then later told Tom, “I don’t like Mary. She’s not my friend,” you could say that Jane is two-faced.

The Gospel lesson today, from the book of Matthew, has a story about two sons. The father tells the first son, “Son, will you go and work in the vineyard today?” and the first son replies, “i Will not.” Later, however, he decides to obey his father and he goes and worlds. The father also asks the second son to work in the vineyard and the second son answers, “I go, sir” (vv. 28 – 30 NRSV). But this son does not go at all.

Now, I’ll ask you the same question that Jesus asked his disciples after they had heard this story; which son did what his father wanted him to do? (Wait for answers.) Yes, the first son did the right thing.

Were these sons two-faced? (Wait for answers.) Yes. Both of them said one thing and did the opposite. The first son said the wrong thing and did the right thing. The second son said the right thing and did the wrong thing.

In the end, do you think it’s more important to say the right thing or to do the right thing? (Let children respond.) Actions speak louder than words. Of course, the best thing would be to both say and do the right thing.

This week, see if you can think of something you can do to show your family how much you love them. Then don’t forget to really do it!

Loving Justice

Year A – RCL – Proper 20

Scripture: Jonah 3:10-4:11

Marc Chagall’s “Jonah”

The Bible story of Jonah is a very curious one. God tells Jonah to go and talk to the people of a city where many are behaving very badly. Jonah doesn’t want to go. He’s afraid that they might hurt him if he goes there and tries to tell them to change their wicked ways. Jonah runs in the opposite direction, ends up being thrown into the ocean, swallowed by a giant whale and then he gets barfed out of the sea animal’s mouth onto the shore of Ninevah. That’s the city where God told him to go in the first place.

Jonah ends up in the exact place where he did not want to go. Now he knows for sure that he has to go tell the people of Ninevah that they need to clean up their act or else! “God is going to destroy you,” says Jonah, “unless you change your bad behavior.” After delivering his message to the bad people of Ninevah, Jonah stomps out of the city and sits down to wait for God’s anger to come down and smack those people. He wants to see the punishment that they deserve. After all, he’s been through a lot on account of those bad Ninevites. 

But Jonah does not get to see God’s anger strike down the bad people of Ninevah. Turns out, those people actually listened to what Jonah said to them. Turns out that they actually turned away from their sins and made a big change. They stopped doing bad things and turned towards God. It’s a happy day in heaven, because people who had turned away from God, now turned back to God and started to love God once more.

God loves all people. God wants everyone to turn towards love and learn to love God and to treat others well. But Jonah was not really in synch with God anymore. Jonah wasn’t thinking about how sad these people would be, or how miserable their lives had been when they were pushing God away. Jonah was thinking about himself. Jonah was angry with the whole business of being dragged over to Nineveh by God. He didn’t care if they had changed their ways. He wanted to see those people punished for what they had been doing. He wanted them punished for the bother of having been forced to preach to them. God loved the people of Ninevah, but Jonah did not love them.

Why didn’t God just punish them!? Jonah had a hard time understanding the loving justice of God. If there is any way that God can save someone, or can turn them back onto the path of love, then that is what God will do. The justice of love does not want to punish. The justice of love wants to save. God finally did manage to show Jonah that Love is the greatest part of justice. Yes, there is a consequence or a punishment for bad behavior, but love always comes first. Our Creator is a God of loving justice.

Prayer: Dear Loving Creator, Thank you for loving us and always being ready to welcome us back into your arms. Please forgive us when we turn away from you and do mean things to others. Help us to always treat others with love first, the way that you treat us. Amen.