How beautiful upon the mountains
Â Â Â are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
Â Â Â who announces salvation,
Â Â Â who says to Zion, â€˜Your God reigns.â€™
Listen! Your sentinels lift up theirÂ voices,
Â Â Â together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
Â Â Â the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
Â Â Â you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
Â Â Â he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
Â Â Â before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shallÂ see
Â Â Â the salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:7-10)
Archives For Children’s Ministry
How beautiful upon the mountains
He loves our cat, Simon. She is still figuring out what the heck is going on and who this new kid is that suddenly arrived at our house.
She hid under the table, but Nelson wanted to show her cat photos and videos. So he crawled under to share his screen.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, â€˜Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?â€™ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, â€˜Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:1-5)
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, â€˜Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.â€™ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. Luke 10:13-16
All the kings of the earth shall praise you, OÂ Lord,
Â Â Â for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
Â Â Â for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
Â Â Â but the haughty he perceives from far away. (Psalm 138:4-6)
Not a movie star? Not rich and famous? No crown or bling to speak of? Rest easy. You are loved by a glorious God.
(Speaking of movie stars, these sunglasses adorn the set of Sunday morning’s Christmas pageant, which will happen during the 10:30 worship service at the Presbyterian Church.)
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall leadÂ me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, â€˜Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become nightâ€™,
even the darkness is not dark toÂ you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12)
This is my buddy, J. Today, for about 30 minutes of our after school ministry time, he stayed as close to me as he could. He sat on my lap. He tried to climb onto my shoulders. He pulled at my hair and played with my earrings before he finally settled on trying to figure out my Fitbit.
If I had to go help another child, he walked me over and sat on my lap as soon as I sat down. He walked me around the room when I just needed to stand up for a moment (maybe hoping he’d find something else to do in the meantime).
He was a tangible reminder of God’s Spirit. After all, J, “where can I flee from your presence?”
Today was a tough day for many reasons. I was grateful to have the opportunity to reflect on scripture that tells me about a persistent God who stays by my side no matter how rocky the road gets.
“Saving” was a word I had to think about all day yesterday before I settled on a photo. What exactly does “saving”look like when it comes to a photo challenge? What does it mean to save something or some situation or someone?
I thought about the word while I took my Hebrew final exam yesterday morning and encountered this word’s Hebrew equivalent.
I thought about it while I drove past banks.
I thought about it when I reached out twice yesterday afternoon and grabbed buckets of perler beads from the hands of children who were just about to drop them all over the floor.
I thought about it while I stood with the children around the big Nativity set in the fellowship hall last night.
I thought about it while 4 girls, poised over sheets of drawing paper with pencils in their hands, considered the stories in scripture about Jesus’ birth and drew their own interpretations of them. They asked each other (and me) questions about dress, customs, timeline, and particular elements of the story that are missing or not as prominent as most would assume. They asked questions they could answer for each other and questions that no one in the room could possibly answer. “Really?” they asked each other. “Is that true?” they asked. “I never thought about it that way before!” they exclaimed.
I thought about how stories are saved and kept. How having them written down is good, but knowing them through questioning and answering and drawing is better.
“Did you know that an angel told Mary she was going to have a baby before anyone else knew? And Mary was really confused, because she wasn’t even married! And she was probably upset at first, but it turned out to be good news…the goodest news!” A nine year-old boy explained me to yesterday afternoon as we worked on his homework together.
It’s news we still tell each other about, news we still keep, save, discuss, and draw.
Â In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,Â to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virginâ€™s name was Mary.Â And he came to her and said, â€˜Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.â€™Â But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.Â The angel said to her, â€˜Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.Â And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.Â He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.Â He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.â€™ Â Luke 1:26-33
This is Biscuit. She is a joy-bringer. She comes to see us almost every Monday at after school club to encourage the kids to exercise and be active. When the weather permits, kids can take turns holding her leash (and they all get “squirrel training,” because Biscuit loves to chase squirrels) and walking with her around the neighborhood, the riverfront, or the park across the street from the church.
One of the things Biscuit is good at is making kids feel welcomed and loved. And the kids in our program are always glad to do the same for her.
Biscuit belongs to Cindy, Riley, and Adam and today she was wearing this hat. We’re taking pictures of the kids for special parent gifts, and she didn’t want to miss out, so we got her posing by the tree, too.
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus,Â so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.Â Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7
I decided that the tall children’s Christmas tree will no longer reside on bare tile in the alcove of our gymnasium, but that I would move it to one of the classrooms–the one with the purple walls, because Advent. Doing this meant that I had to move a table and some other small furniture and items. It means that the elementary class that meets in that room will have a little less floor space. It means that the candy canes and ornaments will distract from any lessons to be done in that room–whether at after school club, in Sunday School, or during Children’s Church.
It also means that I can put the church’s expansive collection of children’s Christmas books under the tree for kids to read. I had the idea for that the other day and yesterday afternoon I was surprised and thrilled when I walked into the room to find three of our after school ministry kids gathered near the tree and quietly reading “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Night Before Christmas.”
I think over all, we are all going to be glad we made room for the tall tree in the children’s classroom.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
Â And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a fatherâ€™s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, â€˜This was he of whom I said, â€œHe who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.â€ â€™) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Fatherâ€™s heart, who has made him known. John 1:10-18
Advent invites us to make room. Traditions and trappings of the season demand our attention. Retail and decorations, baking and parties seek our time. We are easily distracted, easily swept up into the commercial reasons for the season, and we easily forget to make room and wait for the one whose birth started all of this.
The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. He takes up space, he disrupts our plans, he causesÂ us to rearrange the furniture. But if we are willing to make the room, we’ll be surprised and thrilled by the goodness he brings.
And, hey, if you happen to be in or around the Presbyterian Church in downtown Henderson, feel free to drop in and read a book by the children’s tree. It’s a good way to stop and make some room in your busy Advent schedule for rest and reflection.
Today is Maundy Thursday. In my congregation, we worship together on this night and read the passage from John 13 where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. We sing hymns and share the Lord’s Supper.
Tonight, I sat in the front row of the sanctuary because I was the liturgist for the worship service. A little girl who comes to our after school program and often shares meals and worships with us sat next to me.
There was something about sitting next to her in a communion service that may forever alter the way I take communion.
She walked into the sanctuary and was constantly aware that there was bread on the table. She gestured at it with exclamation when she sat down.
During the first hymn, she leaned forward and studied it.
While the pastor read from the Bible, she followed along with me in my Bible, pointing at the table as the table was mentioned in Scripture.
Throughout the service she would look at me pointedly and then indicate the bread on the table, with a questioning look on her face. I would show her where we currently were in the bulletin and then point to the word “communion.”
As the pastor preached, he talked about the Bread and the Cup and she made a fanfare gesture with her arms. It was my turn to look at her inquisitively. “I just want to make sure everyone knows what he’s talking about,” she assured me.
As the pastor moved to the table, she stood to her feet and all but took a starter’s position, ready to race to the table as soon as she got the go ahead. She shifted anxiously on her feet as Rich read and prayed and broke and elevated the elements.
When he invited people forward, she was standing toe to toe with him before he even finished the sentence, looking up at him, waiting for him to share the bread with her.
Some in the sanctuary tonight might think that my young friend does not have the proper regard or understanding of the Lord’s Supper.
I think she might understand it better than the rest of us do.