The Greatest Commandment

For the 20th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 25 (Lectionary 30) From “Saving the Ants” Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Matt. 22:34 – 40 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments are based on these two…”

Preparation (Optional): Bring heart-shaped stickers to distribute at the end of the message.

Some of you

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Pay Your Respect

Jesus took their trick question and turned it into a question about not just where you pay your money, but where you pay your respect. Jesus asked the Pharisees to show him the money that they pay taxes with, and they showed him a coin that was like this quarter. (Show the quarter or other coin.) Then Jesus asked them, “Whose picture and title are stamped on [this coin]?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well then,” [Jesus] said, “give to Caesar what belongs to him, But everything that belongs to God must be given to God” (Matt. 22:20-21 NLT).

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The Gardener

Do you know what happened to the gardener in the story Isaiah told? He planted grape vines and took good care of them, but his garden didn’t produce good grapes. God is like that gardener, and we’re his plants. God takes good care of us and wants us to grow and do good things. When we turn away from God and do what we shouldn’t, it’s as if God’s garden is wilting and filling up with weeds.

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Two-Faced

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.

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Fair Wages

Would anyone like to earn some money this morning? I need four volunteers. I’ll give each of you a job and pay you when you’re done. (Choose four kids and have them line up.) Now, I’ll ask my first volunteer; if I pay you one nickel, will you carry these three books to the back of the church and up here to the front again, three times? (If they agree, let them start right away, while you continue to speak.) Now, to the second volunteer; will you carry two books down the aisle and back, two times? (Let second volunteer begin their job.) Now, the next; will you carry one book down the aisle and back just one time?(They may begin.) And for the last one; your job is to walk to the first pew and back. You don’t have to carry any books.

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Seventy Times Seven

For the 14th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 19 (Lectionary 24) From “Saving the Ants”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Matt. 18:21-22 “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied to Peter, “Seventy times seven!” (NLT)

Preparation: Bring a large pad of paper and a fat marker.

Have you ever hurt another person? If you’ve either accidentally or purposefully stepped on someone’s foot, or pushed someone, or called your sister or brother a mean name, or made someone

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What a Dog Teaches Us About God

This past summer, one of the members of our congregation at West Tokyo Union Church passed away. He was an unusual member, but he ran to church every Sunday and waited outside in the courtyard next to his water bowl until the service was over. Snack time often spilled over into the courtyard and Bjorn was always there to opportunistically clean up any leftover treats. He knew the value of a vigorous post-prandial roll in the grass and he was often joined by the children

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Junk Food

For the 13th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 18 (From “Saving the Ants.” Purchase book at left.) Scripture Reference: Psalm 119:37

Preparation: Bring one candy bar along with a bowl of fruit to share. (Grapes make for tidy eating in church.)

Does anyone here ever eat junk food? What is junk food? Can you describe it or give some examples? (Wait for answers.) Yes, junk food is usually sweet or salty and crunchy, and we eat it just for fun. It doesn’t really

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Jesus Is the Rock

God’s promises are dependable and solid, like rock. There are a lot of hymns about Jesus being the solid rock on which we stand. It is a good way to describe Jesus. He’s solid. He doesn’t get washed away by trouble or time. Jesus has promised that he will always be with us, and he is always with us.

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Inseparable

Can anything pull us away from God? No! We’re inseparable. When I read this verse, I thought of my favorite stuffed animal and of other kids with their favorite toys. Have you ever seen someone try to take a favorite toy away from a child? They will hang on for all they’re worth.

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