All age – Blessed Virgin Mary

Have any of you ever been asked to do something, or go somewhere, but you really REALLY didn’t want to? (Take answers)

Clean your room, do the washing up, go to visit someone you didn’t like, have to go see family rather than play out with your friends, do your tax return, fill out paperwork, had to give up meeting friends to do work?

What do you do? What do you do when you really don’t want to do something? (Take answers)

You start making excuses

I’m too busy, I can’t, I don’t know how to, but they’re much cleverer, faster, better than me, they should do it!

We all do this from time to time, especially with the small stuff in life.

But, sometimes we’re asked to do something huge! Has anyone been asked to do anything huge and important? (Take answers)

Well, I have someone with me who was asked to do something very, VERY important. Can anyone remember our gospel reading, or guess at who I might have here who was asked to do something VERY important?

(Uncover statue)

MARY

Mary was given a very important task, what was Mary asked to do?

Be the Mother of Jesus.

This was HUGE. And would have been very difficult for her and others to understand and accept.

She wasn’t married.

She lived in the wrong side of town.

She was poor.

And she could have come up with LOADS of excuses for NOT being the Mother to Jesus.

I can’t, I’m planning my wedding.

I can’t, what would people think of me?

I can’t, what do I tell my parents?

I can’t, what do I tell Joseph? He’ll think I’ve been seeing someone else.

I can’t, I’m too poor to look after a baby.

I can’t, I’m too young to be a mother.

I can’t, I’m not important enough for God to be bothered with me!

But did she say any of these? (Take answers)

No. After she had spoken to the angel, she is so excited she goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is also expecting a baby. And she said something amazing. She said something so wonderful, that we repeat it every day in the cathedral. And in every cathedral, and in every church it is sung, and said and prayed.

And its known as the ‘Magnificat’ which is the first word of Mary’s praise in Latin.

It’s become for us, a song of joy, and has been set to music more times than I can count.

Because this girl who must have thought that she couldn’t, God did not say ‘she is just a girl’. God took Mary seriously, trusted her and put her to work. And when she believed she could do God’s work, it was the most joyful thing she had ever known. And so she said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour’  and she talks about what God has and will do for his people.

“I praise the Lord with all my heart.

    I am very happy because God is my Savior.

I am not important,

    but he has shown his care for me, his lowly servant.

From now until the end of time,

    people will remember how much God blessed me.

Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me.

    His name is very holy.

He always gives mercy

    to those who worship him.

He reached out his arm and showed his power.

    He scattered those who are proud and think great things about themselves.

He brought down rulers from their thrones

    and raised up the humble people.

He filled the hungry with good things,

    but he sent the rich away with nothing.

God has helped Israel—the people he chose to serve him.

    He did not forget his promise to give us his mercy.

He has done what he promised to our ancestors,

    to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary shows us what is possible when we say Yes. When we say Yes to God, wonderful things can happen. Even world changing things. And he doesn’t just use the clever or the important. He can use all of us.

So next time you’re asked to do something, think, am I going to make an excuse, or should I joyfully say yes, because there is the potential in all things for God to do his wonderful work.

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Two debts forgiven – Children’s sermon

Luke 7:36-8:3

(Two volunteers for props. Get them to stand, arms out holding the bags, one heavy, one light. Get the rest of the children to keep an eye on them to see if they drop their arms all the bags at any time while I’m talking.)

Our readings today give us an important message. It’s a message about living The way that God wants us to live, and what happens if and when we break the rules.

In the gospel Jesus is at a party and a woman has come in, she has done things wrong in her life and the man throwing the party, Simon, was not happy she was there. He didn’t think she was worthy to be near Jesus, or at his party.

Now, there is a lot written in the bible about how we are to live our lives. There are rules written down and there are stories to give us examples. Can anyone think of any rules or commandments they know, any stories they give a message about how we are to live our lives?

Examples – the 10 commandments, the great commandment, parables, letters.

Jesus said that the most important of the commandments were to love God and to love other people. But we know we don’t always treat each other like we love them. Sometimes we cause hurt by the things we say or the things that we do.

And what happens when we break these laws and commandments? What happens when we don’t live like God wants us to live? What happens when we don’t love like God wants us to?

We become sinners. We hurt ourselves, others and God.

And sometimes those things get in the way of our relationship with God. They can create a barrier between us and God, a wall between us and God.  And sometimes other people don’t want to be around us because of the wrong things we have done.

And sometimes the wrong things we do we end up carrying around with us. We keep thinking about them, the shame and disappointment we have in ourselves and the consequences that they had. They become a burden, a heavy weight that we carry around with us. Sometimes the wrong things we do can get in the way of the things that we really want to do. Sometimes the wrong things we do can stop us living. And this is like the woman at the party, whose host didn’t want her their either, because of the things she had done

But God does not want us to live like this. He doesn’t want us to carry a heavy weight around with us. And God certainly doesn’t want us moving away from him or other people. So he tells us that whenever we do something wrong if we admit it and say sorry then we are forgiven. And when we are forgiven we no longer have to carry that weight around, we no longer have to be separated from each other, and we no longer need to be separated from God.

This is what Jesus teaches Simon at the party. He tells the story of two men Who owed money. One owed lot of money, and one owed a little and neither could pay off their debt.

When you’re older and when you owe a debt to somebody else, like when you owe a lot of money, you will learn this can feel like a heavyweight, a bit like the heavyweight of knowing you’ve done something wrong. They are both things you think a lot about and worry about and get nervous about.

Which is why I think Jesus used this image of a debt owed being like sin to teach about forgiveness.

And we have two people who have been holding a heavyweight for a little bit of time now. One holding a lot, and one holding a little. How are you feeling? Are your arms aching? Would you like to let go of your heavy weight?

(Take the bags off the volunteers but ask them to keep standing on their chairs)

Ask them how they feel now? Are they happier? More comfortable? Relieved? Lighter?

Jesus asked which of the two will be most relieved to have the debt paid off, which will be most relieved, to have the burden taken away?

The person who throw the party for Jesus answered, the one with the heaviest weight will be the most relieved.

And he was right.

Jesus then talks about the woman again, because she had sinned, she has done many many things wrong, and this had made her feel guilty and separated from other people. But she wasn’t sinful forever, she was forgiven. Jesus said ‘I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love to me’

We all do things wrong sometimes, we all say and do things that hurt ourselves, that hurt other people and that hurt God.  And the wrong things we do can have serious effects. But when we say sorry, we are set free to do all the good things again, without carrying a heavy weight of guilt and shame around. We are free again, like the woman to Jesus to show each other love.

Let us pray: God help us to love you and each other as you taught us through the Bible. And when we do things wrong, help us to say sorry and receive forgiveness so we don’t have to feel weighted down and so we can love again like you taught us. Amen.

Why Join?

For this years advertisment I’ve made a few videos to give a pictural representation of what the groups do. These will go out on the website and social media to support our current advertisements of posters and flyers to schools and within the Abbey community.

This one is for Tea and Toast, an afterschool group for primary school kids which starts 9th November.

And this is for Xcite, our youth group for 8-12 year olds which starts 18th September.

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.

Children’s Church: I AM the light of the world

Activity: Blindfold a volunteer (sensible one). Give then face paints, or girls make up. Sit someone opposite who will have their face made up by the blindfolded child.

Give a min or two for creativity to take place, at the end of the time, give the victim (child with make up on face) a mirror and let the blindfolded child take the blindfold off.

They should both be horrified at the sight!

Give out baby wipes so that they can clean their faces.

Activity: Give all the children a piece of paper and a pen, get them to close their eyes (no cheating) and get them to draw something familiar (a house). See how well they’re able to do it without being able to see.

Talk: Explain that that when we are in the dark it’s not easy to see and most activities become really hard. Ask if any of them have ever gone out wearing something that looks bad because they got dressed in the dark and couldn’t see what they were doing? – But in the light we can see everything that looks wrong!

Story: Find a story from a children’s bible, maybe one of the healing stories of the blind man or using John 8.12

Activity: Divide the children into small groups and give each a piece of lining paper or they could do individual sheets. Ask them to draw a line across their paper to make 2 sides. On one side they should write “light” and on the other, “Dark”. Ask them to make 2 pictures – one about light and one about dark! They could put the things people do in the light and the dark as well as what things actually look like.

Children’s Sermon 1 Kings 19. 4-8 & John 6. 35, 41-51

How many of you have been on a really long journey?
Where did you go?
Whenever we go on a long journey, we have to think about all the things we need to pack. What type of things should we take with us? (money, food, water, clothes, toys)

Maybe Elijah should have had some of you with him (or not, depending on answers) when he went on his long journey to Horeb. Elijah was a prophet, he was called to give God’s word to his people at a time when they had turned their backs on God, so he wasn’t always very popular.
And one day he found himself having to leave quite quickly.
He’d walked for a day, before sitting down under a tree and giving up.
He wasn’t in a very good mood and started telling God that he’d had enough. He didn’t want to walk any further.
And after he’d ranted at God. He fell asleep.
But God wasn’t going to leave him like that. God sent an angel to wake him up, ‘Get up and eat’ and to bring him some nice fresh bread and a jug of water. So he got up and ate and drank, and then went back to sleep.
So God sent a second angel, with more food and water, ‘Get up and eat’. So he got up a second time, ate and drank.
Elijah found he was strong enough to carry on with his journey, thanks to God providing him with everything he needed to keep him strong for his long journey.
And today we hear that Jesus does the same for us. Can any of you remember what Jesus said?
‘I am the bread of life’
How does Jesus show himself as bread to us in this service???
The Eucharist is the way Jesus shows us that he is ‘the bread of life that came down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will have eternal life’.
Every time we eat we are reminded of Jesus’ promise.
Every time we eat we are reminded that we are never alone, no matter how big or long our journey is.
Every time we eat we are reminded that God loves and cares for us.
Jesus promises us today that he is the bread we need, not just to keep us going for a journey like Elijah’s, but to keep us going in our journey through our whole lives, forever. Jesus is the food we need for the true life that God has for us.

The Alban Pilgrimage Children’s Talk 2015

The children’s talk went something like this……..

The Chinese emperor seeking a new Prime Minister, challenged all of the children to bring in the greatest power in the world.  Some brought weapons.  Others said that the beautiful have t he power to get whatever they want and spent the year making themselves as beautiful as possible.  The brainy children pointed to the power of technology bringing examples of important Chinese inventions.  And, of course one group saw money as the path to greatest power.

After thinking long and hard, one child brought a seed.  When the emperor asked her why, she explained that when it is planted a seed produces a wonderful plant which produces food for now and more seeds for future plants.  It contains life which is the strongest power in the universe.  Of course she became the new Prime Minister. (The Greatest Power, by Demi)

Jesus tells us today about how we should live our lives. He says if we pay too much attention to the things of the world, then we’ll miss out on life.

What type of things might we pay too much time on which then makes us miss out on other things? (Let the kids answer)

TV, computers, music, food, sweets, comics, games.

Jesus says, ‘those who give themselves to the things I tell them about will have a great life, and will have eternal life’.

What things does Jesus teach us about? (Let the kids answer)

Love, peace, justice, giving, selflessness, caring, etc

These are the things that are important in life, these are the things we have to work towards doing each and every day to have a full and happy life.

Alban gave us a great example in how he lived his life. He thought about others first, and protected Amphibalus the priest when the soldiers came looking for him. It was a dangerous thing to do, and Alban knew that, but it didn’t stop him.

The soldiers gave him the chance to save his own life by promising to follow the Roman gods, but he wouldn’t and he told everyone clearly that he believed in the one true God who made all of heaven and earth.

Alban stood for truth and bravery, he was selfless and caring. And that is why we celebrate him today. St Albans Abbey was built in his memory so that others could worship the one true God and be reminded of his example, and so that we continue to try and live better lives, so we can have the life that Jesus promises us. DSC03585DSC03589

We also had bubble prayers 🙂