Shepherd and 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!

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Nativity Rat at the Manger

RAT: So compared to the Creator of the Universe and all things good and amazing, humans and rats are almost on the same level. But God loves us anyway. God loves the ratty and the tattered. God loves us even though we are small and mean. God loves even the rat.

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Leap for Joy

Fourth Sunday of Advent From “Scolding the Snakes” Scripture Reference: Luke 1:39-55

Preparation: You may have a song queued up to play at the end of the children’s time.

Today, how many candles are lit on the Advent wreath? (Children may respond.) It’s the fourth Sunday in Advent, isn’t it? It’s almost – almost – time for Christmas! We want to be ready for Christmas and we want to be ready when Jesus comes to earth again.

Is everyone ready? The Gospel lesson for

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Swatting vs. Sympathy

Sympathizing is better than swatting. Jesus sympathized. He did not swat. Jesus listened and loved and shared the Good News of God’s love.

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From Abraham to Jesus

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.

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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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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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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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