Listening for the “Love”

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.”

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The Pain of Separation

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he knew that he was going to die on the cross, be buried in a tomb, and after three days, come back to life again. For a short time, Jesus was going to be separated from his friends and family on earth. Do you think that made Jesus sad? How do you think it made his close friends feel? (Let children answer.) Before Jesus came back to life, he would be separated from people he loved very much—people who loved him and needed him to be with them. And that kind of separation is a sad thing.

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Cheating in the Temple

The temple, or the place where people came to worship God, should have been the one place where everyone knew they would be loved and accepted and treated fairly. Our churches should be the same way, shouldn’t they? But when Jesus visited the temple in Jerusalem, he found that a lot of cheating was going on.

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Crusty Grudges

“What’s a grudge?” “It’s what forms inside when someone says or does something bad to you and you refuse to let go of the hurt. It stays inside you and gets all crusty and hard and you end up carrying it around forever.”

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God’s Hug

I know I can hug at least one person. I’ll show you, if someone would volunteer to be hugged. (Give one volunteer a hug.) And I’m pretty sure that I can hug two people at once. (Give two volunteers a hug.) But in order to hug all of you at once, the way our Father in heaven can, I will need some help. (Have your volunteer adults come forward to help out.) Now let’s see if we can give all of God’s lambs a hug at the same time, the way God can. (Give a group hug.)

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King and Shepherd

Ezekiel 34 tells us what kind of shepherd our Lord is: “I myself will search for my sheep. . . . I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak” (Ez. 34:11, 16 NRSV). Even when the sheep are scattered all over the place, the shepherd will gather them up and bring them back. God always looks for us when we’ve turned away from him and have taken the wrong and dangerous path. Our Lord never gives us up for lost.

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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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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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