Jesus’ Resurrection

The Wrong Place to Look

Scripture reference: Luke 24:1-12; 24:5,6

tombThe day of Sabbath rest was over in Jerusalem. It was the start of a new week. The rosy sun was just beginning to push the darkness out of the night sky; the birds were fluffing their feathers and chirping their songs.

Mary Magdalene and the other women were up early, too, but they weren’t singing.

There was something they wanted to do for Jesus. On that terrible day at Golgotha they had watched Jesus die on the cross and they had cried and cried. The women had followed when Rabbi Joseph had taken Jesus’ body gently down from the cross and brought it to his own empty cave in the small garden. Rabbi Joseph had wrapped Jesus’ body in a soft white cloth and put him on a bed of sweet-smelling spices. So the women knew where to find the Master they loved so much. Mary Magdalene and her friends wanted to do something for Jesus, so they prepared more spices and sweet-smelling perfumes. They would bring them to the cave and cry together.

Everything was so sad, and so mixed up!

How could Jesus be dead? He’d promised them a kingdom; how could he be king of a kingdom, lying in a cave all wrapped up and covered with spices, with a guard of Roman soldiers standing in front of the big stone?

He’d promised them treasures in heaven; how could he give them anything when those greedy soldiers at the cross had taken away all his clothes?

He’d promised them that he would destroy God’s temple and raise it back up in three days; how could he fix the temple when the curtain had ripped into two pieces and he wasn’t even there to fix it?

He’d promised to set the prisoners free, but how could he? Nobody was even listening to him anymore!

He’d said he was king, but why did the soldiers spit on him and make fun of him, and give him a pretending crown? And why would he let that crook on the cross beside him say those awful things?

And what about that great parade into Jerusalem when the people threw their coats on the ground and made a beautiful carpet for Jesus to ride on, and waved palm branches and shouted: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”?

What happened to all the promises? Jesus was dead. All the promises were lost.

…..

But wait …. The most important promise of all – what was it?  “In three days I shall be raised again…” Had they forgotten?

Mary Magdalene and the women didn’t understand. All they could do was cry and go to the garden with the spices they had ready. “How are we going to roll away that big stone?” they worried. “Maybe we’re not strong enough to push it out of the slot….”

There was the cave: the soldiers were gone, and the big stone had been rolled away!!!

The women had forgotten! Into the cool, quiet rock space they tiptoed, carrying their spices, looking for the body of Jesus. There was the soft white cloth; there were the sweet-smelling spices; but where was Jesus?

Then suddenly, two shining angels! “Have you forgotten?” said one angel. “Have you forgotten Jesus’ promise? You’re looking for him in the wrong place: he is not here; he is not dead – he is alive, just as he said he would be! Come, and look!”

And the women came, and they looked.

And then they remembered Jesus’ promise – bigger than their small hearts and their small imaginations: big enough for YOU and for ME!

Jesus is not dead: HE IS RISEN! Hallelujah.

The Great Commission

Inside the Apple  

Scripture reference: John 17:17-21 

1-appleToday I’m going to ask you a very easy question:

Can you tell me what this is? An apple! Just one apple! Simple, isn’t it! A very shiny, a very red apple. It’s looks good and healthy, too, doesn’t it.

Yes, one beautiful red apple…..

Perhaps this one good apple, could be ten good apples, and then 100, and then 1000, even a whole church full, right up to the ceiling!

Now I want you to watch me carefully. [Cut open the apple… ] Look inside – What do you see? Seeds! Little pockets with seeds inside. And seeds can make more apples.

So, if you wanted more good apples like this one,

  • You would take the seeds,
    • Plant them in good earth, and water them, and feed them, and take good care of them
  • Until—one day—there will be apple trees with apples of their own—hundreds and thousands of them! – maybe even a whole church full!

Jesus’ helpers on earth were just like the seeds in this apple.

When it was time for Jesus to go back to his home in heaven, he sent his helpers into the land to do his work. But first he asked his heavenly Father: “Please look after my helpers and take care of them, plant them in good earth, and make them strong while they’re walking through the land teaching about me.”

  • so that more and more people would grow to love Jesus,
  • and someday the whole world can be full of grownups and children who love Jesus and believe in Him.

Jesus comforts his disciples and promises to return

The Promise Peppermints

Scripture reference: John 14:1-4 

[You will need to have available two peppermints]

peppermintsToday I’m going to tell you about Jeremy. Jeremy was three years old, and he was going to nursery school for the first time! He was so excited! He was even wearing a new sweatshirt just for the special day! He gulped his orange juice and hurried through his bowl of cereal. He zipped up his brand new backpack and jumped into the van behind his mom. Off they went. Jeremy’s mother parked the van in the parking lot and unbuckled Jeremy’s seat belt.

In they went. Jeremy’s mother helped him hang up his jacket, on a special hanger just for him. But … Jeremy’s mom wasn’t taking off her jacket. And, what was she saying? “See you later” ?? Jeremy didn’t understand this one bit. And he didn’t like it! “But, Mommy, I want you here. Stay here! I’m scared if you go away and leave me. You never leave me! I don’t want you to go away!” He plopped on the floor, as sad as sad.

Then Jeremy’s mom sat right down on the floor beside Jeremy. She gave him a big hug to make him feel better. Then she said, “Don’t be sad. It won’t be for long. I have work to do, so I have to go away now, but I’ll come back to take you home with me. I promise! And she reached into her pocket, and out came two peppermints. “Jeremy,” she said, “Look. These are for you. Promise peppermints.” She put one peppermint in Jeremy’s hand and said, “I promise.” She put the second peppermint in Jeremy’s other hand and said again, “I promise.” Then she got up, blew Jeremy a kiss with a smile, and off she went, out the door, away from Jeremy.

Jeremy was still a little sad, but he went to the toy corner anyway, holding his two peppermints. He sat down on the rug and watched the other kids. After a while he looked at the promise peppermints in his hand. He popped one into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he rode around on the toy tractor until he started to feel sad again, and squished down in the toy corner. After a while he looked at the second promise peppermint in his hand. He popped it into his mouth and whispered, “Mommy promised.” Then he made a very big fort out of blocks  —–

Before he could get sad again, there was his mother to take him home.

And when Jeremy got bigger and heard about Jesus going away from his disciples to get ready for heaven, he remembered the promise peppermints and understood Jesus’ promise: “Don’t be sad; I will come back to take you home. I promise.”

God is like …

The Mother Eagle

Scripture reference: Isaiah 63:7-9 

baby bald eaglesThis nest of branches high on a rocky cliff is home for two small baby eagles. At first, they’re very small and helpless, just like Baby ______ who was baptized this morning. Mother Eagle is very busy finding food for them, pushing it down inside their tiny beaks and they‘re always hungry! And, at first, the wings of the baby eagles are hardly wings at all, just fuzzy little flaps, so of course they can’t fly anywhere yet, not at all like Mother Eagle who has very large strong wings with grownup feathers and can soar through  the air high and low!

Sometimes the baby eagles, as they’re growing bigger and more adventurous, make the mistake of hopping too close to the edge of the next high on the cliff. Out they tumble—and down they fall!

… And whenever that happens …

The watchful Mother Eagle spreads out her big wings and swoops down  under the falling frightened baby, catches it on her wing feathers, and carries it back to its safe place in the nest. There it stays until the baby is older and stronger and grows wing feathers, too!

God is like the Mother Eagle. He protects his children and keeps them safe, right from the time when Adam and Eve learned to live outside the beautiful garden, when Noah’s family stepped out onto Mount Ararat, when Ruth gathered the wheat, when manna from heaven fed the grumbling people, when Mary and Joseph looked for a place to stay in Bethlehem!

God watches over you and loves you every minute, and today God is here, watching over and protecting this new baby, too.

How must we live?

Unzip the Bible!

Scripture reference: I Thessalonians 1:1-10

[You’ll need a can of DEET or some other safe-for-kids mosquito repellent, and a Bible with a big zipper]

Last week I went for a long walk through a tall, dark forest and everything was just right—except for mosquitoes!—big, hungry mosquitoes who wanted me for lunch!

Do you know what this is? [show the can of DEET, and elicit a number of responses]

That sounds like it would be really helpful for going on a hike through the bush, or for going fishing, or for sitting around a campfire at night, doesn’t it?

So, what do you have to do to make this work?

  • you could carry the can in your pocket all day with the lid on tight;
  • you could use it like a baseball bat to squash the mosquitoes when they come buzzing near;
  • you could stand in the middle of the bush and shout to all the bugs that are bothering you, “I have this can of DEET, so you can’t catch me!”

Hmmm….. would that work? Of course NOT! So, what then? …

OPEN IT; and follow the instructions:

Be sure to do just what it says: Cover yourself with it (spray it on yourself – on your arm)  – and then you will be protected from the mosquitoes and black flies. And then you can go hiking!

But… the instructions say this stuff doesn’t last forever. You have to put it on again after a few hours, or the mosquitoes will come back! So keep it handy, and use it faithfully…

So here is the Bible, closed, zipped up tight. And all around us are sinful things that buzz around us and want to catch us:

  • that make us pick fights with brothers or sisters;
  • that make us too lazy to help with chores;
  • that make us whine and complain when Mom says no gum at the store.

So what can we do to make the Bible work? Unzip it, open it up, and use it; read it not just once, but lots. There’s a little song that goes [sing with the children, “Sing: Read the Bible, pray every day  If you follow me”].

And we can learn how to live for God, if we open his book every day.

Listen to the kids at Faith Baptist Church sing “Read the Bible, pray every day“.

Jesus the vine, we the branches

I am the vine

Scripture reference: John 15:5

David is fifteen years old. He lives with his grandpa in a small house with a big garden. David’s Grandpa Joe is a short little man with very thick glasses and very, very wrinkled hands. Grandpa Joe is a gardener, and what he likes best in his whole garden are his grapevines.

David thinks his grandpa is the best vinekeeper on the block. All during the growing season, Grandpa Joe gets up early, tugs on his big black rubber boots and, rain or shine, hot or cold, pushes open the old wire gate that leads into the garden.

Grandpa Joe shuffles slowly between the growing vines, and now and then reaches up to the branches twisting around the wooden trellis. He turns over a leaf or two with his big, gentle hands. He peers at them closely through his thick glasses. Are the leaves green and shiny and healthy? Or are insects chewing holes in the leaves? And are there enough blossoms? He looks for branches that have diseases – maybe bugs or fuzzy fungus – and if they are sick or rotting, he snips the sick and rotting branches off the big stem and tosses them into the fire pit at the far corner of the garden.

Days of sunshine and days of rain … In Grandpa Joe’s garden, the blossoms fall off and small grapes appear. There they hang on the branches, just growing, while the vine brings them food and water up from the soil. Slowly, slowly, they grow — round and plump and ripe.

Days of sunshine and days of rain … Sometimes during a big storm, a blast of wind tears a branch away from the vine. The food can no longer travel to the leaves and grapes on the broken branch. The green, shiny leaves become dry and crunchy; the growing grapes dry up and fall off, and even the birds don’t want to taste them. These too, Grandpa Joe tosses into the fire pit. At the end of the summer, Grandpa Joe makes a big fire and burns all the dead and useless vines and branches.

But on the big vine, on the healthy branches, the clusters of grapes keep on growing: juicy and sweet, tasty and good. Finally, it is time: Grandpa Joe picks the grapes and fills the baskets – one, two, three… At the end of the day, he sits in the garden with his grandson David and smiles. Grandpa Joe is happy with the harvest.

Jesus knows all about vines and grapes like Grandpa Joe’s. His garden is the whole world, and Jesus is the vine. “Stay by me,” he says, “and you will grow strong and healthy just like the green shiny leaves that stayed on Grandpa Joe’s vine. Stay by me and I will give you all the food you need to be a child of God.” And before you know it, in sunshine or rain, good times or bad, your friends will know you love Jesus, and every little thing you do for Jesus will make Him happy..

Hope for the family

Keeping families whole and beautiful

Scripture reference: Genesis 2:24

[You will need hollowed eggs, one for each child. I prepared them the night before, by blowing out the contents of the eggs, using the pinhole approach.]

Is everyone sitting down?

Today I’m going to give you something very fragile to hold. First, here’s how I want you to hold it. Make your two hands into a little cup,  like this, and wait quietly. It’s very important that you sit still as a mouse.

Are you ready?  [distribute the hollow eggshells, one to each child. You will need a helper…]

Can you tell me what you’re holding in your hands? An eggshell? … A beautiful eggshell in your hands. But BE careful, be VERY careful! Hold it very gently – it’s FRAGILE; that means it could break very easily. If you’re careful with your eggshell you could have it for a very long time!

What do you think would happen if you forget that your eggshell was fragile, and didn’t take care of it, and were rough with it and threw it around?

–          it wouldn’t be precious anymore;

–          It would break into all kinds of little pieces;

–          you wouldn’t have anything beautiful to hold any more, would you?

FRAGILE, that’s what the eggshell is!

A family is fragile, too.

God made every family in his world with love and care, just the way you’re holding your eggshell. He wants to keep every family whole and beautiful forever.

Now you may carry your eggshells with you to church school and your teacher will help you keep it whole and beautiful.

~ This children’s story was told as part of a sermon series on sexuality, and on the power of relationships forged with Jesus as the third partner in the  relationship.