The Invisible String

Less than a week ago we celebrated the life of my mother-in-law after her unexpected death. Our grief is made less only in knowing she lived a good life filled with the richness of family and faith and in dying she went without pain or suffering to be with our Savior in Heaven. Even still, this will be the first Mother’s Day we will celebrate without her here with us. The pain and grief are real. This is a story many endure on the second Sunday in May. As others gear up to celebrate, many struggle with deep grief and heartache for the death of a mother or child this Mother’s Day. For them, we pray.

There are no easy answers to offer in the wake of death and loss. There is some measure of comfort to be found in knowing we never walk alone through these struggles because God is always with us. We find throughout the Bible an active, always present God who genuinely seeks to be in relationship with us. In Matthew, Jesus promises to be with us until the end of time. He also promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to guide us and be with us. In the wake of such human loss and pain as the death of a mother or child, may we know God is with us.

Though comforting, such an abstract idea can be very difficult for children to grasp, especially young kids who are such concrete thinkers. Whenever I am with a child who is struggling through grief, who needs the comforting word that they are not alone, I am reminded of the book The Invisible String by Patrice Karst.

In this story, told by a mother to her two children, an invisible string keeps them connected to one another no matter how far apart they find themselves. So, they are never alone. Children can imagine a string connecting two people in two different places — even a string to God. Like the invisible string, it’s the Holy Spirit who connects us to God who loves us and is with us always and forever.

And when a child — or an adult — is particularly sad for all he or she has lost to death, that string is there to tug on for a little extra comfort when it’s most needed.

Peace my friends.


Trinity C

Day: Trinity Sunday C

Lectionary Passage: John 16:12-15

Scripture Focus: John 16:12-15

Object: Can String Phone

Preparation: To make a can string phone you need two clean tin cans (or paper cups), a piece of string, and a nail and hammer. First, punch a small hole in the bottom of each can using the nail and hammer. Each hole should be just large enough to that the string will go through. Then, from the outside, insert one end of the sting into the hole in one can. Tie several knots so the string will not slip out. Repeat with the other end of the string using the second can. The trick to the can string phone is to be sure the string is tight, then when a person talks into the can the vibrations are sent along the string to the other can.

When I was a little girl, my sister and I used to play house and we used a can string phone to talk. Like this one. The trick to a can string phone is to make sure the string is really tight and straight so that you can talk to the other person. It really works! The only drawback is that you have to be pretty close together for the can string phone to work. But, what happens when someone is really far away?

That’s something that worried Jesus’ friends when he told them that he was going to go back to Heaven to be the Father. But then Jesus told them some really good news: He was going to send the Holy Spirit. And part of the Holy Spirit’s job is to pass on messages from Jesus. So, even though Jesus is Heaven, we can still learn about following him through the Holy Spirit. That means, you don’t have to have a can string phone or a cell phone or any other gadget to talk with Jesus because we already have the best thing: the Holy Spirit.

Let’s pray: God, thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit who continues to teach us and help us learn the way of Jesus. Amen.

Pentecost C

Day: Pentecost Sunday C

Lectionary Passage: John 14:8-17, 25-27

Scripture Focus: John 14:15-17

Object: A lamp that plugs in

Today I’ve brought a pretty simple thing with me. It’s a lamp. Let’s turn it on (switch the unplugged lamp on an off). Well, that’s strange. My lamp is giving us any light…. oh, that’s because it isn’t plugged it! (plug the lamp in) And we have light! A lamp needs more than just a switch to work. It needs electricity. We can’t see the electricity but we know it’s there because it powers the lamp.

And that reminds me of the Holy Spirit. We can’t see the Holy Spirit but we know it’s there because it powers us to follow Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives us energy and keeps us going even when things get tough. Can you imagine that something invisible can be so powerful?! But that’s exactly the case with the Holy Spirit. We can’t see it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t powerful.

Let’s pray: God, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and power us to follow Jesus. Amen.

Easter 2C

Day: Easter 2C

Lectionary Passage: John 20:19-31

Scripture Focus: John 20:22

Object: None

One of my favorite superheroes of all time is Superman. He has all kinds of amazing powers, like superhuman strength, flying, and x-ray vision. But the one that always catches my attention is Superman’s super breath. Superman has the ability to inhale and exhale huge volumes of air with great force, so he can put out fires and move heavy objects like cars. He can also freeze stuff with his breath!

As cool as Superman’s breath is, it still isn’t as powerful as Jesus’ breath. You see, in our story today, Jesus finds the disciples hiding out in a house. After Jesus greets them, he does something really strange: He breathes on them. And when he does, the Holy Spirit comes! That’s how powerful Jesus’ breath is! It gives us the Holy Spirit. And with the Holy Spirit we can do amazing things like pray to God in Heaven. Now, that’s some powerful breath Jesus’ got.

Let’s pray: God, thank you for sending Jesus who breathed into us the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can do amazing things!

Easter 2A

Day: Easter 2

Lectionary Passage: John 20:19-31

Scripture Focus: John 20:22

Object: Breath mints, 2 per child

Good morning everyone! It’s been one week since we celebrated Easter and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But in our story for today, barely a day has gone by since Easter morning when the tomb was found empty by Mary Magdalene. After Mary saw Jesus in the garden she ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive, but the disciples still hadn’t seen Jesus for themselves. It wasn’t until late Sunday night, when they were locked in a room, that Jesus appeared to the disciples. The first thing he did was say, “Peace be with you.” And then, he breathed on them! At that moment, the disciples received the Holy Spirit. Now that’s some good breath!

I want to give each of you two breath mints. The first one is for you to have as a reminder that Jesus breathed on the disciples and they were given the special gift of the Holy Spirit. The second one is for you to share with someone and tell them Jesus has really good breath because it’s filled with the Holy Spirit and he wants everyone to be filled with the Spirit. Can you do that? (let the children respond enthusiastically) Well, alright!

Let’s pray: God, thank you for sending Jesus who breathed into us the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can do amazing things!