Saturday, February 2, 2013

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Today I celebrate 24 degrees. I rejoice over positive wind chill factors. Last week's single digit temperatures and bone-chilling breezes gave me fresh appreciation for all things thermal, flannel, and fur-lined. Daily emails, from a certain retired preacher wintering in Florida, reporting his local forecasts filled with sunshiny, eighty degree weather, made me grouchy.

Then I remembered a particular sermon from that certain preacher.

The preacher, while walking from his car to his workplace one bitter February morning, saw a sparrow fall from its perch on a small tree branch. It had frozen to death. Tears welled in eyes already watering from the cold. The tears were not from sorrow over the death of the bird, but from joy, as he was reminded afresh of Jesus' assurance of our worth in God's eyes. To this day, decades later, the old familiar hymn, His Eye Is on the Sparrow, brings those same tears to those same eyes.

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31 ESV

Life as a bird, when snow is deep or food is scarce or temperatures are extreme, is a struggle. Making birdseed cakes is a fun winter craft for kids and an opportunity to teach them about God's care and provision.

Here is the link to the recipe I used:

Last week was so cold. How did you stay warm?

I have a picture to show you. This bird is a sparrow. A sparrow is a small bird. He weighs about the same as a pencil. Sparrows do not fly south for the winter. They live here all year, even when it's extremely cold, like last week.

Sparrows are everywhere. They are just common, everyday birds. Lots of birds are more beautiful than sparrows. Lots of birds sound more lovely when they sing than sparrows. Sparrows are ordinary.

Yet, Jesus had something to say about sparrows:
"When sparrows are sold, two small sparrows cost only one penny. But not even one of them can die without God's knowing it. God even knows how many hairs are on your head. So don't be afraid. You are worth much more than many birds." Matt 10:29-31

We sometimes sing a song in church about how God cares for the sparrow. Let's have everyone sing the chorus with us:
     I sing because I'm happy
     I sing because I'm free
     His eye is on the sparrow
     And I know He watches me
     His eye is on the sparrow
     And I know He watches me

God loves the sparrows, and He pays attention to their lives. God loves you much more, and He pays close attention to your life. God knows how many hairs are on your head. And God knows what is going on in your life. God knows when you are sad about something; and when you are happy, He knows that, too. God knows when you are afraid; and He understands about that.

Let's thank God for caring about us.
Bow your heads, fold your hands, close your eyes.

Dear God,
You care for the little birds and you care even more for us.
Thank you!
Why should we ever worry?!
God bless us all, and keep us safe and warm.
In Jesus name we pray, amen.

We can care for the sparrows, too, just like God does. When it is very, very cold outside, birds need to eat more food for their little bodies to stay warm. Here is a birdseed cake for each of you. Take it home and put it outside. Then watch from your window--the birds will come and eat it!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Feed The Poor

Who should we talk about today? JESUS!

I know something neat about Jesus. When He taught people, he told stories. His stories are special. They are called parables. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. I'll show you what I mean. Here is one of Jesus' parables in Luke, chapter 14.

Jesus was at a big party, a feast, and lots of people were there.

12 Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite only your friends, your family, your other relatives, and your rich neighbors. At another time they will invite you to eat with them, and you will be repaid. 13 Instead, when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then you will be blessed

The people had never heard anything so strange! They thought to themselves, "Jesus said I should NOT invite my family and friends when I give a party! Could He really mean that?" Nooooo, Jesus had a heavenly meaning.

Then they thought, "Jesus said I should invite poor people instead! I don't even know any poor people! Do I have to go find some poor people and invite them to my party? Is that what Jesus means?" Nooooo, Jesus had a heavenly meaning.

Now I will tell you His heavenly meaning. Are you ready?

Feed the poor. We all have enough food to share. We all have enough food to give parties. We all have ... so ... much! Poor people have ... nothing. Their children are hungry. Their cupboards are bare. Feed the poor.

Every week, take something to the food pantry, a box of cereal, a can of soup, something. If you gave just one thing every week, Anna, and if I did ... and if you did, Jeremy ... and if each person in church did ... soon the food pantry would have plenty of food to give. And when poor people come to the food pantry to ask for food, there would be ... so ... much! And they would know someone cares for them. And God will be so pleased; and He will know you care for the poor people, just like He does.

Time to pray.

Wonderful God,
We have so ... much ... food in our kitchens, plenty to share, and we thank you. Please help us to remember every week to feed the poor, just like Jesus taught.
In His name we pray, amen. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Remember You

I was overwhelmed and touched by the many people who remembered me on my birthday via gifts, visits, telephone, texts, and facebook. Was Jesus asking too much that we remember Him? How much more worthy is our Savior and King to receive our remembrance, our attention, our love than anyone else?  And I knew the church kids would love to be remembered, too, in a special, personal way. 

Pondering each child, one at a time, I  recalled a fond memory, and matched it with an appropriate Bible verse. After printing my list on card stock, I cut them apart and mixed them up. I made several of the last one for any visiting children,  and planned to greet their families and learn their names as they arrived at church.

Once I had read the first couple of memories, the kids' eyes were glued to mine as I read the name on each next strip. Be sure to recall every child, even the ones who only attend occasionally or sporadically. Get help if you need to, but do not forget anyone. If you know the kids in your church, do this for them. They will never forget it, and neither will the adults.

Yesterday was my birthday. Maybe you can figure out how old I am. It was my 25th "29th" birthday. Many, many people remembered me on my birthday, and wished me a happy birthday, and that was so nice! Do you know I have special memories of each one of you children? So, in honor of my birthday, my gift to each one of you is a flower from my garden, along with my special memory of you and a special Bible verse just for you. I'll read each memory out loud, but I don't think I have time to read your Bible verses because there are so many of you.

>Aaron, I remember when I set up a "time-out" corner in nursery class. You wanted to try it out, so you pushed Lily down on purpose! Aaron, God made you fearless.
Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart! 1 Chronicles 22:13
>Anna, I remember when I asked you if you were being a good girl, and you were sad because you weren't always good. God made you tender and humble, and He is very pleased with you.
“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, Isaiah 66:2
>Ava, I remember at first you didn't like coming up front in church, and now you do! Ava, God made you to enjoy church.
And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Jesus. Mark 12:37
>Ben, I remember watching you polish off at least four platefuls of food at a church picnic. God gave you an appetite and the energy to match!
Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. 1 Peter 4:11
>Cameron, I remember many times you spoke up during Children's Moment, and I like that! God made you bold, so be bold for God, like Paul in the Bible.
He boldly preached about the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ, and no one stopped him. Acts 28:31
>Carter, I remember the day I met you, and you sang a song. It was "Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord" and you knew every word! God made you a person who worships Him in song.
Worship the Lord with gladness. 
Come before him, singing with joy. Psalm 100:2
>Cheyenne, I remember the day in nursery class you wanted to make a picture for everyone in your family! God gave you a heart full of family love.
As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
>Claire, I remember you were the first Hasara I had in nursery class. God gave you a big job when He made you a big sister and a little sister, just like Miriam in the Bible.
Then the baby’s sister asked the princess, “shall I find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?” So the girl went and got the baby’s own mother. Exodus 2:7-8
>Ethan and Tyler, I remember how you two brothers always stick together. God gave you hearts filled with brotherly love.
Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:1
>Emma, I remember the day you ran up,to me and hugged my knees, and called me "Teacher!" God made you a person who shares love.
We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too. 1 Thessalonians 2:8
>Gabe, I remember when you shared your transformer toy, and I couldn't do it right, and you helped me. God made you able to figure things out.
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; 
I will put them into practice with all my heart.  Psalm 119:34
>Haley, I remember one day when you were sad, and your sadness changed to happiness. God made you for happiness.
Those who plant in tears 
will harvest with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5
>Jena, I remember one day in nursery class you made a very special picture for your daddy. God made you a very good daughter.
In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. Job 42:15
>Jeremy, I remember how excited and happy you were to become a big brother. You take good care of your little sister. God made you protective of your loved ones, like He is.
During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. John 17:12
>Jill, I remember you have a favorite story, "The Elephant's Nose." It makes you giggle! God gave you a happy heart!
A happy heart brings a smile to your face; Proverbs 15:13
>Jordyn, I remember when the puppets played with you in nursery class. God filled you with wonder!
They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful.” Mark 7:37
>Justin, I never remember you with a frown, you are always smiling. God gave you a smile that spreads happiness.
A smiling king can give people life;
his kindness is like a spring shower. Proverbs 16:15
>Lily, I remember a Children's Moment when you tried to say a great big word, and you were only four years old, and you said it perfectly! God made you able to do amazing things for Him!
“Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23
>Mason, I remember when you admitted doing something wrong. God made you serious and truthful.
In every way be an example of doing good deeds. When you teach, do it with honesty and seriousness. Titus 2:7
>Max, I remember when you were three in nursery class, and we tried to throw ping pong balls high enough to hit the ceiling. They bounced and rolled everywhere, but you crawled around 'til you found every single one. God made you a person who does not give up.
I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me. Proverbs 8:17
>Miguel, I will always remember the first time I saw you smile. Your whole face lit up, the room seemed brighter, and my heart was lighter, too. God made you a light in this world.
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14
>Miles, I remember how you like to help your dad and your brother pass out the church bulletins. God made you a good helper.
He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. Ephesians 6:21
>Sam, I remember playing with you on my iPad. You thought it was wonderful! God made you to understand just how amazing He is.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, 
And for His wonders to the sons of men! Psalm 107:8
>Tatiana, I remember watching you help your brothers. God made you patient and kind.
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40
>(for visitors) I remember the first day you came to church, and God remembers that day, too. God loves to see you here in church, and He hopes you come back!
You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing, but you should meet together and encourage each other. Hebrews 10:25

It's nice to be remembered. It is a reminder of being loved. Jesus wanted us to remember Him, too. Let's pray. Bow your heads, close your eyes, fold your hands.

Dear God,
Bless these precious children. You remember us every day and show us Your love. Help us to remember Jesus because we love Him. Help us remember each other because of our love.
In Jesus' name we pray, amen.