Worship for Kids: February 4, 2018

January 4th, 2018

From a Child's Point of View

Gospel: Mark 1:29-39. The contrast between these healings and the previous one at the synagogue makes it clear that Jesus did not heal to impress big groups of important people. He simply reached out to do what he could for people he met. When he went home with his friend for supper, he healed the man's sick mother-in-law. When people came to the door asking for help, he healed them.

Fifth- and sixth-graders are ready to take responsibility for their own devotional life. They are able to read the Bible on their own and are independent enough set their own disciplines. Many are learning to take responsibility for individual athletic, dance, or music practice. Just as these disciplines help children develop their athletic and artistic power, daily prayer helps them develop their power to live as God's people. The story of Jesus' withdrawal for prayer is attractive to them.

Old Testament: Isaiah 40:21-31. Children cannot understand this passage as it is read, in any translation. They do, however, empathize with the hopeless exiles. Like the exiles, children often feel overlooked and forgotten. They feel like baggage that is shifted around to suit the adults. Children who are mistreated by the central adults in their lives feel shut out by the whole world. But even those who are loved and well cared for occasionally feel overlooked and overpowered. Isaiah reminds children that God, who created the vast world, pays attention to each creature in it even to them. God notices them and will give them the power they need in even the most hopeless situations.

Psalm: 147:1-11, 20c. This psalm celebrates both the power and the loving care of God. Children can recognize it as a psalm that might have been sung by Peter's family, or by any of the many people Jesus healed.

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 9:16-23. It is more effective to summarize Paul's point and illustrate it with current examples of people who are doing as he did, than to attempt to explain the significance of living by the Law and becoming "weak." Paul's point is that he is willing to accept rules he does not really need to accept, if living by those rules will help him do his job of telling people about God.

WARNING: It is important to point out the difference between what Paul did and merely going along with the crowd to make them like you.

Watch Words

Do not let speaking of God's power lead you to use omnipotence or other long "power" words without explaining their meaning.

Let the Children Sing

Both "How Great Thou Art," when sung with feeling by a congregation that loves it, and "For the Beauty of the Earth" describe God's power and love. "All Things Bright and Beautiful," which praises God's attention to both the great and the small, is familiar to most church children.

Though "We Would See Jesus" includes some abstract and obsolete words, older children can sing along. It helps to point out the topic of each verse before the singing begins.

Older children can read and sing the words of "Take Time to Be Holy," in response to Jesus' prayer practices.

The Liturgical Child

1. To emphasize the psalmist's points about God's power and include worshipers in the poet's praising, ask the congregation to say "Praise the Lord!" (1a) to begin Psalms 147, and also after a worship leader reads the following sections of the psalm: 1b, 2-3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-9, and 10-11. This might be printed in its entirety in the bulletin.

2. Invite three older children to read the three stories (verses 29-31; 32-34; and 35-39) in the Gospel text. The New Revised Standard Version can be read without difficulty by most fourth- through sixth-graders. Plan one practice session in the sanctuary to be sure they can pronounce all the words easily, know where to stand, and can use the microphone comfortably.

3. Prayer of Confession: Loving God, you have commanded us to love one another, and you have shown us how to do it. When crowds came to the door at the end of a long day, Jesus talked to them and healed them. But when people come to us when we are tired, we say, "Come back tomorrow. Can't you see I'm busy?" or just "Go away!" Forgive us.

When Paul became a missionary, he was willing to try almost anything to persuade people to listen to God's good news. He obeyed the laws the Jews obeyed, so that they would listen when he told them about Jesus. He ate the strange food the Gentiles ate, so that he could tell them about God's love.

But we are not so eager to help others. We are helpful when we feel like it. We serve others when it is convenient and when serving is interesting or fun. We invite to church only the people we like. We are kind to those who are kind to us. Forgive us. Help us to love one another as you commanded. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God loves us even when we are not loving. God loves us even when we are not lovable. God loves and forgives us even when we are at our worst. More than that, God gives us the power to love others when we do not feel like it, to say kind words to people we do not like, even to take care of others when we are tired and want someone to take care of us. When God's power works through us, we are surprised by what can happen. Thanks be to God!

4. As the Benediction, recite Isaiah 40:28-29 and 31. Conclude with, "So go in peace. God is with you."

Sermon Resources

1. To set Paul's point in modern circumstances, tell stories. Tell about teenage American girls who wear skirts instead of shorts while painting a children's home in Jamaica. Because they do not offend the community's customs regarding women's dress, they are able to share God's love with those people.

Tell about an older child who plays little kids' games, maybe "Chutes and Ladders," to care for a younger child. Tell about the eight-year-old who ate barbecued goat when invited to dinner by the Central American refugee boy he befriended at school.

2. Offer specific helps for daily prayer. Name daily devotional guides that have proved useful. If your children's church-school curriculum offers a daily prayer guide, point it out, encourage children to use it, and urge parents to support its use. Another excellent resource is Pockets, a monthly magazine for seven- to twelve-year-olds that includes devotional activities for each day of the coming month. (Order Pockets from The Upper Room, 1908 Grand Ave, P.O. Box 189, Nashville, TN 37202-9929.) Display these resources near the sanctuary.

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