Do Not Be Afraid

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

A message, directly from God, sent by an angel! No wonder the angel had to begin with “Do not be afraid.” And for whom is this message? A very young girl, engaged but not yet married. The message: “You are to bear a child, the Son of the Most High.” The angel makes a compelling case, the young girl chooses to risk accepting, and God is choosing to come among us as a human being – the word made flesh.

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LPTW Advent 4, Year B, Younger Children
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LPTW Advent 4, Year B, Adults
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Who are You?

Third Sunday in Advent, Year B
Scripture: John 1:6-8, 19-28

The Gospel of John tells the story of John the Baptist from a slightly different perspective. Who is this John? John understands he is a messenger of the light – not the light itself. Those in charge of keeping the faith are confused. Who is this man? Is this the long-awaited Messiah – or Elijah – or a prophet? John sees his mission as baptizing, and pointing to the one who is coming after him.

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LPTW Advent 3, Year B, Younger Children
LPTW Advent 3, Year B, Older Children
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Prepare the Way

Second Sunday of Advent, Year B
Scripture: Mark 1: 1-8

John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus, dressed in camel’s hair and lived off the land, driven by the message he has heard from the prophet Isaiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” “Stop,” John is saying. “Look at yourself and your life. Make a fresh start. Begin again. Come, be baptized. Someone is coming to lead the way. My job is to point to that someone.”

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LPTW Advent 2, Year B, Younger Children
LPTW Advent 2, Year B, Older Children
LPTW Advent 2, Year B, Adults
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Keep Alert!

First Sunday in Advent, Year B
Scripture: Mark 13: 24-37

Ominous warnings of end times: These warnings and words of hope heard in a community that was pretty sure the world was coming to an end. The message: Keep alert! Stay awake! Pay attention! Jesus just might come this very night. Implicit is the invitation to make some changes in our priorities and to notice what really matters.

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LPTW Advent 1, Year B, Younger Children
LPTW Advent 1, Year B, Older Children
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Advent Intergenerational Lesson Plan

Advent, Year B, Intergenerational Lesson Plan
Scripture: Mark 13: 24-37

Today we begin Cycle B, the second year of the three-year cycle from the Revised Common Lectionary. This cycle features the Gospel of Mark. It’s succinct, no frills, and no extra data. Just the facts as Mark perceived them. Jesus will come back – no matter how long it takes. The truth Jesus came to show us will not go away. When will Jesus come back? Who knows? “When” didn’t seem to matter to Jesus – just that we be ready.

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LPTW Advent, Year B, Intergenerational
Jesse Tree

Shepherds and Giving Thanks

Last Sunday after Pentecost, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

The prophet Ezekiel’s ministry happened during a time of great upheaval, beginning in 593 BCE (just before the fall of Jerusalem) through 571 BCE (into the Babylonian exile). Throughout the Book of Ezekiel, we hear a message of judgment, destruction and restoration. Ezekiel is warning of the judgment of the leaders and others who have only worried about themselves or have forgotten the ways of God. Our lesson today is a ray of hope from Ezekiel to those who were in the Babylonian exile, telling them of God’s promise to look for them, gather them, care for them, and bring them home as a shepherd bring the sheep home and tends to them after they have been lost.

Note: This is also the last day in the church year, so Option 2 of the lesson focuses a bit more on that if you wish to help the children prepare for the New Year we begin next Sunday on the First Sunday in Advent.

Download the Old Testament Lesson Plan for the Last Sunday in Pentecost

LPTW Last Pentecost, Year A, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Last Pentecost, Year A, Older Children, Old Testament

Being a Leader

Proper 28, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Judges 4:1-7                                                                      

We have spent a good deal of time during Pentecost working our way through the journey of the Israelites. We have talked about Moses’ death and how Joshua took over the role of leader. We are now in the book of Judges, the people of Israel have reached the Promised Land and Joshua has died. Even though they have reached the Promised Land, it does not mean that it is there land yet and they have been fighting with the Canaanites for the land that God promised them. However, once Joshua died, they have been without one central leader and throughout the book of Judges, we see the people of Israel struggle with continuing to remain faithful to God without their leader.

There is a pattern throughout Judges that we see in today’s lesson. It goes something like this: the next generation of Israelites strays from God, God punishes them through oppression of foreign people, the people realize their ways and turn to God to repent and beg God to save them, and in the end, God delivers the people through a judge.

The judges in the book of Judges are not the judges that we think of today. They are leaders who have been raised up by God to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors. They have spiritual and military power and help the people of Israel fight their battles to free them and gain the land God had promised them.

Today, we hear about Deborah.

Download the Old Testament Lesson Plan for Proper 28

LPTW Proper 28, Year A, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 28, Year A, Older Children, Old Testament

Serving the Lord, Walking with God

Proper 27, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

This passage comes toward the end of Joshua. Joshua has led them into the promised land and brought them all together to renew their covenant, their promises with God. Joshua helps them understand the weight and importance of their decision by recounting the past for them, going back to what their ancestors went through and the choices they made on their journey. By going back to the beginning of their story, he is showing the Israelites that there has always been a place for them on the path with God.

As we hear the exchange between Joshua and the people, the refrain, “Serve the LORD,” comes again and again. This is not just about worship, but also about serving, about being the person of God in the world. Joshua knows from history and experience that the people of Israel have trouble staying focused on God, especially then the going gets tough. He tries to impress upon them the weight and importance of this decision. This is a life choice and he wants them to understand that.

The Israelites pledge and choose to serve God because of what God has done for them. They retell their story of following God and say to Joshua, if God has done all these things, then this is our God.

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LPTW Proper 27, Year A, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 27, Year A, Older Children, Old Testament

Faith and Following God

Proper 26, Year A, Old Testament Lesson
Scripture: Joshua 3:7-17 (4:1-7 optional)

After Moses’ death, God commissioned Joshua, Moses’ assistant, to continue to lead the people of Israel. God makes promises to Joshua just as promises had been made to Moses about the land they were to possess and how God was to protect them on their journey. Keep in mind that those on the journey are now the children, grandchildren, or maybe even great grandchildren of the Israelites that were freed. They have been journeying their whole lives, they have heard God’s promises, they have followed Moses’ lead and now Joshua is called upon to be the leader of God’s people and lead them into the promised land.

Today’s story tells us about Joshua readying and taking the Israelites across the Jordan.

Note: I would encourage you to read a few verses further than the lectionary gives us today. If you include the next seven verses (Joshua 4:1-7) you will hear about the setting of the 12 stones to help the future generations remember their crossing over through the Jordan, into the promised land. I’ve included it as optional below.

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LPTW Proper 26, Year A, Younger Children, Old Testament
LPTW Proper 26, Year A, Older Children, Old Testament

Service and Giving Thanks

Last Pentecost, Year A
Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

This is the culmination of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, (and for us it is also the finale of the church year) and Jesus does not mince words telling those gathered around him about what we are all called to do and what we all can do each and everyday. This is not rocket science. It’s about treating each person we meet as if they were Jesus, because they are and therefore should be given all the same respect and honor as our Lord.

Note: This is also the last day in the church year, so Option 2 of the lesson focuses a bit more on that if you wish to help the children prepare for the New Year we begin next Sunday on the First Sunday in Advent.

Download the Lesson Plan for Year A

LPTW Last Pentecost, Year A, Younger Children
LPTW Last Pentecost, Year A, Older Children
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LPTW Last Pentecost, Year A, All