Monday, February 22, 2010

Time with Kids, Feb 14 and 21, 2010

Below, I have included two examples of "Theme Conversations" I have used with the children at Knox United. I try to keep these times short. Many people might judge them to be too verbal. They also usually feed directly into the rest of the service . . . church school for the children, and the sermon and prayers for the adults. 

Mountain Views -- Transfiguration Sunday, Feb 14, 2010

 I now invite those kids who would like, to come and join me on the front steps for a few minutes before church school.

So, Happy Valentines Day! I am glad to see you all this morning. This morning in church school we will hear a story about Jesus at the top of mountain. So, I have some questions for you about mountains.

We live in Didsbury in the province of Alberta and the country of Canada. But does anyone know the name of the county where we live? That's right. It is called Mountain View County. And when I heard last spring that I was going to move to Mountain View County, I got really excited, because I love mountains.

I landed in Edmonton last August 27th. But you can't see any mountains in Edmonton, which is sad. On August 29th, I drove down to the house where I am renting a room in Olds, but I still couldn't see any mountains. You know how in the summer there is haze, and dust from the harvest, and soot from B.C. forest fires, so it is sometimes hard to see the mountains. The next day on August 30, I came to Knox Church for the first time, and Nancy Blain was preaching. But I was a little nervous, so I got up early, and I thought -- I am going to drive west just to prove to myself that there are mountains here. So I drove on Hwy 27 towards Sundre. But then it was getting too late, and I still couldn't see the mountains, and I had to turn around to make it to church. So the next day I was determined to see mountains. And on that Monday, I drove down the Cowboy Trail to Banff; and when I was halfway to Cochrane, suddenly there they were -- the Rockies, and I was so happy that I stopped the car to look at them and I phoned a friend back in Toronto. And then I continued on to Banff.

Have any of you been to Banff? I really love it there because the mountains are so beautiful. But it is one thing to drive or walk in the valley between the mountains there, and it is another thing to get to the top of a mountain. Have any of you ever been up high on a mountain and looked down? When you go skiing, a lift takes you to the top of a mountain, and while skiing down is really fun, a lot of the fun also comes from being able to see so far from up high. Things look differently up on a mountain, don't they?

In the Bible story this morning, Jesus takes his friends Peter and James up to a mountain, and some great things happen up there. Jesus becomes all white and bright; and two other people appear. Peter and James realize that they are Moses and Elijah, two heroes from the past. And this wonderful day on the mountain shows them again that Jesus is special; and it also marks the beginning of their final journey with Jesus to Jerusalem.

Things look different from the top of a mountain or a hill. This Tuesday, I drove into Red Deer for a meeting. The fog had lifted, it was sunny, but the frost was still on the trees. And when I was at the top of the Red Deer River Valley, it seemed like I could see 15 million pine needles in one glance. And I thought it was beautiful.

Didsbury has a hill -- you know, the one with the water tower at the golf course. I visited with Gordon Gilson on Thursday, and he called the hill a Butte. Have any of you ever heard the word Butte? It is a funny word, eh? I think it is a French word that means small hill with a flat top.

Well, have any of you gone tobogganing down the Didsbury hill? It looks like fun. And Didsbury looks different up there, don't you think? Our story about Jesus today might be similar. At the top of the mountain, not only did the land below look different to Peter and James. But Jesus looked different to them as well. And so  they knew more about Jesus.

So I hope you enjoy talking more about Jesus on the mountain top in Church School. And I am going to be with you this morning to work with Janice. So, I'm looking forward to that. But before we sing the next hymn and go to church school, I have a brief prayer and then we will say the Lord's Prayer together. OK?

Let us pray . . .

Dear God,

We give thanks for hills, and valleys, and mountains.
We give thanks for the beauty of the land we can see from the mountains and the beauty of the mountains that we can see from the valleys.

When we climb a mountain, we might only see trees and the trail.
But when we get to the top, we can see forever, and everything looks different.

Help us to remember that you are with us when we are living down in the valley; and that you are also with us when we are up on the mountain, and everything looks glorious.

When we struggle to climb a steep hill, you struggle with us.
And when we are at the top see a beautiful view, you show us your glory.

Today as we learn more about Jesus on the mountain, help us to understand and to know more about your love for us.

All this we ask in your name,


And now let us pray again together the prayer that Jesus taught us, saying

Our Father . . .

Difficult journeys -- for Lent 1, Feb 21, 2010
I now invite those kids who would like, to come and join me on the front steps for a few minutes before church school.

Good morning. I am glad to see you all this morning. This morning is the first Sunday of the season of Lent. And Lent is like a journey because during Lent, we remember the journey of Jesus and his friends from their home in Galilee to the big city of Jerusalem. And theirs is a difficult journey because Jesus knows that at the end of it, he will be arrested, hurt and finally killed. And yet, many of us think of this journey as the most important one ever taken.

So, I want us to think a bit today about going on journeys or trips. Take a look at the picture up on the wall behind me. You probably don't recognize the movie it is from, do you? Does anyone know the name of the movie? It was a big hit nine years ago, and it is based on my favourite novel from when I was a teenager. It is a picture from Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring.

I thought of the Fellowship of the Ring and this photo this week because it continues our theme of mountains from last week; because the story we will hear in Church School in a minute has Jesus in the wilderness again, and he is taken up to top of a mountain by the Devil; and because in the Fellowship nine friends fight a terrible evil, just like the evil of the Devil, and they fight this evil in very simple way: they simply go on a very long long and difficult walk right to the centre of that evil person's empire. They just walk, even though it seems likely that they may die on this trip, which some of them do. So their story sometimes reminds me of Jesus and his friends on their difficult walk to Jerusalem.

Have any of you ever gone on a long and difficult journey? You know, all of life can be seen as journey. A year in school is like a journey. Growing up with your parents is like a journey. And you know what? . . . I have found that the most difficult journeys are often the most important, and the ones that I love the most. So as we remember the journey of Jesus and his friends to Jerusalem, and we try to walk with them between now and Easter, I hope we will remember that even when the journey is difficult, it can still be really wonderful.

So I hope that you like learning more about Jesus in the wilderness in Church School. But first I have a brief prayer, and then we will say the Lord's Prayer together. OK?

Let us pray . . .

Dear God,

Thank you for the example of Jesus and his friends.
They show us how to walk together through life.
They love one another, support one other, and teach one another.
And even though their walk is difficult and they sometimes are hurt,
they walk on because they have faith, hope and love to guide them

Help us on our journeys in life.
Help us to remember that you are with us, and that on the most difficult journeys
new life can be found.


And now let us pray again together the prayer that Jesus taught us, saying . . .

Our Father . . .

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