Children’s Church: I am the resurrection

6th August

Game: In small teams, one member is wrapped up in toilet roll to look like a mummy. The team that does the neatest job with their roll wins.

Story: Sitting down, the story of Lazarus is read from a children’s bible.

Possible questions to ask after the story:

  • What’s amazing about this story?
  • Can you think of any other stories where Jesus bring people back from the dead?
  • Do miracles still happen today?
  • What miracle would you ask God for?

Craft: Each child is given a small cut out person (Wilkinson) and they are to decorate it into a mummy using some of the toilet roll from the game.

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A reflection on Psalm 146

Psalm 146

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

After focusing people’s minds on God, the psalmist proceeds to tell his listeners of the foolishness of putting our faith in humanity alone, because humanity ultimately perishes, fades away, and our hopes and plans with them. If we only trust in humanity, then all our plans will come to nothing. Rather we need to trust in the one who will never fail, who will never fade away.

‘5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;’

It is in God only whom we should trust. The creator of all, who is faithful forever. Only the plans entrusted to God will last and be fruitful. The God who created us, who cares for us, the God

‘7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,’

In the age of celebrity this is an important message. This psalm tells us of the fallacy of seeking after the rich and popular. We stand on rocky ground if its our celebrities we put our trust and admiration. Yes they are entertaining to watch, and many wish to follow their ways, the way the dress and eat, the things they buy, but they will one day die and those things we have built up will fall and fade with them. And then what is left?

‘3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.’

No help, no life, no joy, no strength. All will tumble down to nothing.

Those things, those people that the Lord cares about may not seem as glamorous or exciting. There is little money or fame in caring for those oppressed, sick or hungry, but they are the things that matter. The Lord does not ask us to build up wealth and acquire possessions. He does not ask us to seek fame and recognition. He wants us to join him in caring for others. As it says in Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”

Let this be our prayer, Praise the Lord!

The gist of my Bible Sunday 2012 sermon

Stories are essential for our living, they fashion and fill our existence. From the earliest times we have used stories to share information and I bet that the vast majority of you as you came into church this morning shared a story from your life, from your week.

It is through stories that we learn, our children learn their first lessons and life skills through the stories they are told from their parents, or from school.

How quiet our lives would be without stories, it is our stories that bind us together.

And this morning we are celebrating ‘Bible Sunday’ the one Sunday of the year we set aside to remember the importance of the Bible and to learn anew the joy of being able to read this library of stories about God and his people.

History, parable, romance, law, heros and villains, biography, clumsy repetition and the occasional contradiction. Written by the imperfect hands of humans, but all the same inspired by God.

All of us who read and study the bible put ourselves in great risk! When we read the bible we hear the story of God and his people, we are faced with our ancestors at both their best and their worst. We run the risk of periods of disillusionment and doubt. We also run the risk of deepening our understanding, and our faith, and of receiving transforming riches with the help of Gods intellect and the power of the Holy Spirit.

We all read the bible slightly differently. The bible speaks to each one of us. And our reading changes as we do depending on our experiences and where we are in our lives at the time. Passages we read when we were younger, will have new meanings as we grow. And that is one of the wonderful things about the Bible, it is a living book. Gods living Word which aids our relationship not only with God but also with each other.

Reading the Bible is not like reading any other book. We come to the Bible to be changed, not just to gain information.

The Bible deals with the nitty gritty, it is not about the perfect people of God. It is about the imperfect, the real, worldly, the good, the bad and the ugly as well!

(Noah was a drunk; Abraham was old and a liar; Sarah laughed at God’s promises; Jacob was a deceiver; Leah was ugly. Joseph was abused; Moses had a stuttering problem and a short fuse; Miriam was a gossip; Gideon was afraid; Samson had long hair and was a womanizer; Jeremiah and Timothy were too young. Naomi was a widow; Job went bankrupt; David wasn’t even considered leadership material – his dad didn’t even consider him. Then he committed adultery; Solomon was too rich. Elijah was burned-out and suicidal; Jeremiah was depressed; Jonah ran from God; Hosea’s wife was a prostitute. John the Baptist ate bugs; Martha worried about everything; the Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once; Peter denied Christ; Thomas doubted; Zaccheus was short; John Mark was rejected by Paul; Paul himself was too religious, plus, he was a murderer, as were Moses and David. And of course, Lazarus was dead.)

Whether we like it or not, it is our history. It is our story. And in its people we can see ourselves also.

The Bible tells us the stories that we need. Not just what we want to hear, but also the stories we do not want to hear. The stories that help us to live, help us to die, help us believe that we will live again.

It teaches us of our calling, our call the be in relationship with God and in relationship with each other.

The words of the Bible change us, and as Psalm 119 says ‘Thy word is a lantern unto my feet: and a light unto my paths’.

The Word feeds and nourishes us. We are strengthened and transformed by the Word, and helps the seeds that it plants to germinate, grow and bear fruit.

We are unbelievably lucky to have such free access to the Bible and to a worshiping community. And we should learn not to take this for granted. We should take every opportunity to open the Word of God and to allow it to change us into the true people of God.

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