Say Hello To My Little Friend

He doesn’t have a name, a voice, or a personality yet — but I love him anyway.  The tag that he came with says his name is Sunny but I don’t like that name.  I will be using him during the children’s sermon on Sunday morning.  I did a little (VERY LITTLE) ventriloquism in high school.  My dad had a puppet and I would use the puppet some, but I did not get into it too much.  But ventriloquism has intrigued me over the years.

I have talked with my friend and fellow blogger about the use of storytelling in church.  She has blogged about her experiences of memorizing the Gospel lesson and telling that rather than reading the Gospel.  I love that idea and perhaps that muscle memory will help in memorizing my sermon as well.

But I think using puppets during the children’s sermon will A) Help with children’s sermon preparation B)  Engage the children in Biblical Stories C) Engaged the congregation in the Biblical Stories and D) Bring a new dimension to our worship.

I love the fact that we have a number of families in worship on a Sunday morning, it warms my heart every time I am able to look into the eyes of a child at the communion rail and put my hand on their head and give them a blessing.  I love hearing the sounds of children in worship.  I hope this brings us an opportunity to expand the role of children in worship.

I am giving myself until June 6th to create a character for my little friend.  Any help that you can give me would be great!!  Like I said, I need a name for him, a personality, a voice.  If you have heard a voice of a cartoon character lately that you think would fit please let me know.

The story that I have thought of so far for my little friend is that he is the “forgotten”  the disciple,  he claims that there were in fact 13 disciples and since 13 is an unlucky number, he was the one that go cut out.  He says that it was all political and he is mad about that.  His overall personality  may be grumpy disciple and he wants to tell “his side” of the story.  Grumpy is usually pretty funny….I like funny.  But I am open to changing that, I want this to be good stuff.  So I have two questions……

1)  If you were to bring your child to church (or if you already do) what kind of character would you like to see?

2)  What other ways would you like to see children involved in worship on a Sunday morning?

You think that driving a mini van is a drag?!?!  You think that you will be so uncool sporting a mini van to pick up your kids from school?!?!  We are looking at getting our second mini van sometime this summer.  Am I looking forward to it? Not really…..but after watching the video below makes owning a mini van just a little cooler.

For those who want to sing along here are the words:

This one goes out to all you minivan families out there.
Sienna SE…in the house.
Where my mother/fathers at?
Where my kids at?

Where my kids at?
Where my kids at?
Where my kids at?
Where my kids at?
Where my kids at?

No, seriously honeywhere are the kids?
They’re right there, see?
Oh, cool beans.

[VERSE DAD]
I roll hard through the streets and the cul-de-sacs,
Proud parent of an honor roll student, Jack.
I got a swing in the front, a tree house in the back,
My #1 Dad mug says, Yeah, Im the Mack.

[VERSE MOM]
I’m the world’s best nurse when my kids get sick,
I make a mean gel-mold, I perfected my tricks,
Back when I used to party as a college chick.
Now I’m cruising to their playdates lookin’ all slick…

[CHROUS]
In my Swagger Wagon,
Yeah, the Swagger Wagon,
It’s the Swagger Wagon,
I got the pride in my ride.
In my Swagger Wagon,
Yeah, the Swagger Wagon,
It’s the Swagger Wagon.

[VERSE DAD]

Check it…

I love hangin’ with my daughter sippin’ tea, keep my pinky up,
All the drawings on my fridge sport an A+.
I’m an awesome parent, (Right!) and it’s apparent, (True!)
And in this house there’s no mother/father swearin’.

[VERSE MOM]
Straight owning bake sales with my cupcake skills,
I’m better with the money, so I handle the bills,
And I always buy in bulk, ain’t afraid of no spills.
Every Mother’s Day proves…I’m kind of a big deal.

Daughter: Mommy, I need to go potty.

Bring the beat back, ’cause, yo, I got more to say,
You know I’m always front and center at the school play.
I kiss their boo-boos, clean doggie doo-doos,
Cut the crust off of PB&Js, chill the Yoo-hoos.

[VERSE DAD]

Singin’ “Farmer in the Dell” in perfect harmony,
When I’m rollin’ with my posse in the HOV.
We rock the SE, not an SUV,
And it’s true, if I were you, I’d be jealous of me…

I am a big fan of the blog Ragamuffin Soul.  It is written by worship leader/songwriter Carlos Whittaker.  He has some great stories, he is also a man of faith and a faithful family man.   He posted a video on his blog that I would like to share. The story is that he was out filming a video for one of his albums.  He was playing his guitar and singing when a homeless man came up to him and started to sing and to worship with him.  It just goes to show that you never know when the Holy Spirit will show up.  Click here to read more about what Carlos has to say but first Enjoy the video…..

Happy Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day!  I think that it is great to take some time for those who are mothers and those women who play an important part in children’s lives.

I especially would like to honor my wife……

She is an amazing mother and wife.  She keeps our family going.  She is understanding about the demands of my job and she keeps our home in order.  I don’t know what I would do without her in my life.

There are some people who are born to be mothers and wives,  I think my wife is one of those people.  She loves children and she is constantly looking to improve herself as a mother and as a person.

With the business of life I sometimes forget to tell her how much I love her and how much I appreciate her…..so I want to say that I love you my wife and my love.  I can’t thank you enough for all that you so for me and for our children.

I cannot let Mother’s Day pass without the acknowledgement of my mother.  I have wonderful, loving parents who have always been there for me throughout my whole life, especially my mother.  She was there for me as a child, she supported me throughout my schooling, and always encouraged me.  I have had pretty crazy ideas in my life and my mother was there through it all supporting me, encouraging me and loving me.  She always gives her advice but is supportive of me even if we go in a different direction.  Thanks Mom!  I love you!

Mother’s Day is Not for Everyone

However, as much as I love my wife and my mother, Mother’s Day is not happy and positive for everyone.  With the celebration of Mother’s Day there is also those who are unable to celebrate this day.  Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) is a day of pain for some people.  It is painful for those who have lost mother’s (especially recently), it is painful who have lost important women figures in their life, and it is painful for those who try to have children but are unable too.

There were more than a few tears shed in worship this morning and I can only attribute that too the heartbreak of those who are saddened by this day.

Here are two links that I found today.  The first on is about why the author does not like mother’s day. The other link is to an article about why the author loves and mother’s day.

If you love mother’s day or you would rather hide out, I hope you have enjoyed your day and if there is an important mothering figure in your life, you have taken the time to honor them.

I AM

 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke  Jesus uses parables to explain to us the insights of the Kingdom of Heaven.  A parable is story that Jesus used using everyday, real life examples that have a higher meaning. The normal purpose of Bible parables was to convey a spiritual truth.  We are currently working through different parables on our Tuesday Night Bible Study here at the church.

Parables are great and for the most part they are quite easy to understand.  However, John does not use parables to describe our relationship between God, Jesus and us – instead he uses I am Statements.

When Jesus talks about the vine and the branches he is talking about us.

He is talking about a way that sees through death and decay to new life. It should be no surprise that we who are connected to both God and the world around us should observe and adopt the method of pruning our lives to promote growth. We are the stewards of this world. If we take seriously our task of caring for this world, we will understand that pruning is a necessary part of that care.

A quick survey gives us the following in John’s Gospel. Jesus is: the bread of life, the light of the world, both the gate of the sheepfold and the good shepherd, The resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life, and here, in Chapter 15, the last of the sayings,  Jesus says “I am the vine.”

All of these things connect the reality of God with the fabric of our lives. All of these sayings deepen our understanding of how God interacts in the world and interacts with us.

Of course Jesus is challenging the imaginations and faith. Jesus is also taking on some of the most treasured concepts in Israel: he claims to be the new “manna” for all the people, he claims Israel’s vocation as light for the world, he claims to be the shepherd of Israel, he claims to be “life” for the people, he claims to replace torah as “way, truth and life” for the people, and finally, he claims the language of vineyard, the intimate language of God and his people.

In the Old Testament the relationship between God and people is likened to a vineyard owner and the vines. In the other Gospels, this concept is brought out in parables explaining why the vineyard is to be dug up and replanted, in one sense, or handed over to new tenants in another. But here, Jesus binds himself to the vineyard itself in metaphor.

He maintains the connection to the Old Testament parable by setting his Father as the vine dresser, but in this version, Jesus himself claims to be the vine.

In fact, we would expect nothing less from Jesus. Here, joins himself to the suffering and the consequences of the failed vocations of the Old Testament as well as in our lives.

“I am the vine, you are the branches” he declares, and in doing so has set in motion the pain that he must feel as the branches are pruned and readied for new growth, new fruit, new harvest. Jesus suffers with his people, in this analogy, and not merely for them.

This becomes the heart of the good news for us God now not only dwells with us, but suffers with us, fails with us, and dies with us. Such is the extent of the love that the owner has for the vineyard. His life and destiny are joined to the vine. But then, so are we, who are joined onto this tree, this vine, this Christ. Since he suffers, fails and dies with us, so we are made whole, conquer sin and receive new life with Christ. In the process there will be pruning, getting rid of all the things that draw us away from God – once we start the pruning we start producing a whole new kind of fruit.

No matter how strong we are we cannot do for ourselves. We have the body gathered here to help us produce new fruit, but this day we also remember our families that help lead and guide us, especially all the mothers in the world.

This is a day of special thanksgiving to God for the love and care of mothers. Mother’s Day may not be a high holy day, it may not even appear on the liturgical calendar, but maybe it should.

Mother’s Day not only affords us the opportunity to give thanks for our mothers, but it’s also a time to reflect on the “mothering” attributes of our God

For example, Another interpretation of today’s text might be, “I am the true vine, and God is like a mother who lovingly and carefully tends the vineyard garden. She wants the vineyard to grow and be prosperous so she removes every branch from the vine that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit she prunes carefully, constructively, and surgically to make it bear more fruit.

The pruning metaphor works best if we think of God as a gardener who grieves while watching a violent storm rip through her beloved garden. Afterward, she tenderly prunes the injured plants in order to guarantee survival and to restore beauty and harmony. But we can’t confuse pruning with the crises that overtake us. No, pruning has more to do with clearing away the debris those crises leave behind.

We as individuals experience crises and we at the church experience crises – and it is God our loving father, God our loving mother who prunes away the branches that do not produce fruit and restores beauty and harmony in our lives and in our church.

Not only has God chosen to be our trunk, our life giving tree, but God has promised to tend and care for us the branches and will do what it takes for us to bear fruit.

The storms of life will blow with a force that we cannot bear and those storms will cause us to crash down, be separated by the heavy load and our weakened connection to the trunk may cause us to falter, we may become weak, but God will never let us go, and God will be with us until we are restored and made stronger.  This is a promise to us in our baptism, this is a promise made to us in the meal that we share together – that’s a  promise from God.  This promise has been made known to us by Jesus who says to us “I AM”

IAM the bread of life the one who sustains you and nurses you when you feel weak.

Jesus says I AM the light of the world the one who lights you path when it seems most dark,

Jesus says I AM the gate of the sheepfold and the good shepherd the one who stays with you even when the wolfs come to snatch you away,

Jesus says I AM The resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life Jesus says I am the one who sacrificed himself for the forgiveness of your sins – the one who died so you can have eternal life.

Jesus says  “I am the vine I am your father and your mother – the one who cares for you and protects you when things seem to go wrong in your life,  I am the one who is there for you when no one else seems to be there for you.  I am the one who suffers with you, the one who helps you who loves you no matter what.

Jesus says I AM

We witness Jesus the I AM in the remembrance of our baptism—and next week we will witness Jesus saying I AM when we gather together for the baptism of Benjamin Morrision during the 10:30 service

We taste Jesus the I AM when we participate in the holy meal of communion when we eat the bread and drink wine.

We hear Jesus the I AM when we sing together, sing songs of praise, in proclaiming God as our king.

We feel Jesus the I AM on our hearts and in our lives as we proclaim the Gospel of love and forgiveness to the world.

This love of God is particularly unfamiliar to our world, especially because it seems so contrary to how we imagine God to be. So many god type people seem to be portrayed as strong father figures. But on this day,  celebrated as mother’s day, it is good to see this very feminine image of a God who cares for us as vine and vine dresser. This nurturing love of God who suffers with us and tends us with care.

Jesus says to us I AM – Jesus identifies himself with so many wonderful things in our lives and Jesus promises us to be with us comforting us, forgiving us and loving us as the vine – the strong hold in our lives.

Amen