Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon: Matthew 5:4 (Beatitudes)

My Nannie’s prayer shawl, gifted to her by the Franke at Seaside Prayer Shawl Ministry when she broke her shoulder.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Scripture: Matthew 5:4 – the second Beatitude

Props: something you have that someone else gave you as a gesture of comfort

This morning we are continuing to study the Beatitudes, what Jesus said at the Sermon on the Mount. Today’s focus is on this sentence: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

What does “mourn” mean? Sad, someone died, someone lost something important

What does is look like when we see someone mourning? Crying, falling to the ground, wearing black

And we see and read right here that Jesus said that those who mourn will be comforted. Now, I’m a linguist, and that’s about the highest kind of English grammar teacher. And, like a lot of sentences in the Bible and many other books, when I read today’s beatitude, my brain fills in some gaps. Here’s what my linguist brain reads:

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted BY WHOM? Someone had to do the comforting, right?

Let me tell you about this blanket I brought with me today. It’s not actually a blanket but a prayer shawl, my Nannie’s prayer shawl. You see, there’s a group of ladies who love to knit and they love to pray, and many years ago, they started to pray comfort and peace and help into every stitch they knit. And then they gave the prayer shawls to ministers and doctors and caregivers to give to people who had broken bones or really bad illnesses in the hospital or at home. These knitting ladies don’t know who will get the shawl and their prayers; all they need to know is what Jesus promises in today’s scripture: that someone is mourning and deserves comfort.

And when my Nannie put this shawl around her shoulders (demonstrate with your own shawl), she could hug herself and it was like getting a hug from God and Jesus and wonderful people who cared that she needed help not being so sad anymore.

Now when you see someone mourning – who is crying or sad or hurt – who is here to give them comfort like a hug? God – yes, God gives us comfort, but does he have arms? Jesus – oh, definitely, but he’s not here on earth anymore. Who did Jesus leave to keep giving out hugs? US! Yes, US! We are all part of this one sentence in the Bible – whether we are the sad person who needs comfort or the person sees a need and gives a hug or prayer for comfort.

I’ll ask you to pray with me and think – believe – that someone here in the church today is sad and probably needs some comfort:

Dear God, Thank you for reminding us to look for and see who needs comfort. We will hug the people we can read and ask you to send hugs to the ones we can’t reach with our arms. And we ask you to bless us when we are sad and lost with hugs and prayers of comfort. Amen.

Children’s Sermon delivered at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, on Sunday, February 5, 2017.



Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon: Isaiah 11:1-10 – Jesse’s Root and Jesus’s Birth – Waiting

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10 with Romans 15:13

Props: cup/pot of soil and a Christmas tree seed (similar seeds for demo purposes only: pumpkin, cardamon pod, pepita/pine nut); slice of a Christmas tree trunk for counting the rings; photos of Charlie Brown Christmas tree, 6-8′ home tree (yours or online), and ask how tall the church Chrismon tree is


charlie-brown-pathetic-christmas-tree-3About 10 years ago when I moved back to Charleston, I didn’t know it but a squirrel or bird planted a Christmas tree in my front yard. The first year, it look pretty much like this [ask if anyone recognizes the tree; if not tell them it’s the Charlie Brown Christmas tree]. Yep, that’s what a 1-year-old Christmas tree looks like.

christmastreeNow, 10 years later, my front yard tree is about 5 feet tall. Can you believe that? It took TEN YEARS for my tree to grow only 5 feet tall. I mean, I’m still taller than my tree.

us_plants_homeThe tree you’ve got in your house – or will have – is usually about 6-8 feet tall, and that takes hmmmm 8 to 12 years to grow that tall.

Now take a look over at the Chrismon tree here in the church. I have it on good authority that’s a 12-foot tree. How long do you think it took for that tree to grow that big and tall? [take guesses]
chrismontreeringsWell, thanks to Mr. Jonathan who got us a slice of our tree, we can find out exactly how many years it took. [count the rings out loud] That’s right, FIFTEEN years. Are any of you fifteen years old? [no] Guess what that means? Our tree is older than you are!

In today’s lesson, the prophet Isaiah learns from God a really great description of who Jesus will be and what he will do for us. Now Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus was even born. He says that Jesus will come from the root of Jesse and He will be wise and strong and so much more. And God’s people waited patiently and were faithful for 700 years before Jesus was finally born.

If you get a chance, ask your mom or dad to let you read the church’s newsletter. Both Pastor Mike and Ms. Crystal write about the word “advent,” which means waiting. And it takes two main qualities to wait: patience and faith. Sometimes we have to wait a while before a promise comes true, and when it takes an especially long time, it also takes faith to not give up hope that the promise-maker is really going to do what he or she promised.

Can you imagine waiting 700 years and still believing that God would make good on His promise? That’s some amazing patience and faith to wait and believe that whole time – 700 years – for God to keep His promise. We only have to wait 4 weeks every year – that’s how long the season of Advent lasts – where we prepare our hearts and lives for our first glimpse of the tiny seedling – the baby Jesus – who grew up to fulfill ALL of God’s promises as our Savior Jesus Christ.

Will you pray with me?

Dear God, Thank you for trees and especially Christmas and Chrismon trees to remind us just how long it takes to grow into what God has planned for me. Help me to be patient and faithful when I want things to happen faster than they are. Amen.

Delivered on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Palmetto Presbyterian Church.


Posted in Everyday Musings, God Loves Me!

Reflections on “New” Choices

The past ten days have been a smorgasbord of “new”-ness.

It started with me being terrifyingly spontaneous: I invited a friend to come live with me. And I live with my parents in the front “suite” of the house. To have someone stay with me, he/she has either to sleep with me in my bed or sleep on my love seat…at least until I can switch it out for my futon bed.

You see, a dear friend needed my help hitting bottom so that he could start new, fresh, believing in himself again. He had decided that disappearing from his home and family was the only way he could begin healing.  Thankfully, between his family’s love and my offer, he accepted my rash invitation…and my support. After a stay at the VA Mental Health Clinic–and I am soooo proud of him for taking that step–he is on the road to recovery.

You were wearied with the length of your way, but you did not say, “It is hopeless”; you found new life for your strength, and so you were not faint.   ~Isaiah 57:10

He is a “new” friend in my life, but one I’ve known for close to 25 years. In fact, he introduced me to a “new” feature of life way back when, as he was the first guy I ever made out with. But that’s in the past. He lets me be a “guy”…introducing me to all kinds of guy things that are “new” to me and that I find I love: dirt track, 4-wheeling, wicked horror movies (and funny ones too).

Two other “new”-nesses came to fruition this weekend. You see, since Christmas, I have been serving in the maid-of-honor role helping a “new” friend design the wedding she and her husband never had the first time around. To renew their vows for their 11th anniversary, she wanted to incorporate elements of the wedding she had to abandon 11 years ago.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.   ~Romans 6:4

To top it off, the couple built into the weekend the baptism of their younger daughter, a bright, precocious child of 3…I mean, child of God. The dedication of her life and soul to God is possibly the most wonderful kind of newness of all.

The family is a new one in my life, the wife/mother an acquaintance from my college days 15 years ago; she joined the “other” sorority. But we knew instantly when they moved to Charleston that God had put us into each other’s lives. We are still technically “new” to each other, but each time we learn something “new” in fact, we are neither of us surprised by the stories we hear but by the rightness of our friendship, this new wonderful connection.

As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.   ~1 Samuel 18:1

I marvelled just this morning…this Valentine’s Day morning…that I have had just two Valentines in my 35 years…two men I have loved in this life. They are both dear friends today, all of us having lived to find new loves and lives as God has led us in our journeys. I am blessed by their friendship and am indeed knit “anew” with them!

Now, this month of February 2011 begins a new chapter in my life…and unemployed one. My official separation date from my old job was January 31, and I have no idea what’s in store for me. Except that God will show me what to do and when to do it. My prayer is for “new” sight and “new” hearing so that don’t miss His cues.