Worship for Kids: April 8, 2018

March 8th, 2018

Second Sunday of Easter

From a Child's Point of View

During their elementary years, children join clubs, teams, and other groups. They know that members of each of these groups share a common interest or experience that holds the group together. Today's texts describe the Christian church as a group that shares the experience of God's love and forgiveness in Jesus' resurrection. Each passage describes how the church lives in response to God's Easter work.

Gospel: John 20:19-31. (The Gospel text for the Second Sunday of Easter is the same in all three years of the lectionary cycle. Review other years of this series for further ideas.) This is one of the most appealing of the resurrection stories for children because it deals with questions about what Jesus' body was like after the resurrection. It was different. He could walk through locked doors. But it also was the same. He was recognized by his friends and still carried the wounds from his crucifixion. Children can understand that for the disciples (including Thomas) seeing was necessary for believing. It is reassuring to them that Jesus understood this need to see, and he knew that in many ways it would be harder for us to believe than it was for the disciples, who did see.

Unless they are pointed out, children will overlook the two Easter gifts (peace and the Holy Spirit) and the Easter task (forgiving) described in verses 21-23. Both the gifts and the task are given to the disciples as a group (the church).

First Reading: Acts 4:32-35. To children, this passage says simply that God's people took care of one another. Because children do not become entangled in adult concerns about finances, they are free to identify ways the church responds to all kinds of needs. Just as Barnabas sold land and brought the money to help those with financial needs, children can spend time and effort befriending those without friends, taking care of younger children, and helping others with special needs.

Epistle: 1 John 1:1-2: 2. The "children of darkness" and the "children of light" are best presented as two very different groups. Light and darkness are symbols for the way each group lives. Children of darkness do sneaky things and hide them so they will not be seen. Children of light try to do loving things. Sometimes they fail, but when they do, children of light do not try to hide their sinful deeds. Instead, they confess them, because they know that they can be forgiven. The church is meant to be the "children of light."

Psalm: 133. The Good News Bible's "How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God's people to live together in harmony" makes it the best translation for the day. Children hear clearly the value placed on the joys of living together as God's people. They enjoy hearing about times when their church enjoyed that kind of unity (maybe on a retreat, on clean-up days, or during baptisms, weddings, or funerals).

Both of the psalmist's descriptions of "how good it is" are strange to children. So briefly describe the old treat of being anointed with sweet smelling oil, admit that it sounds pretty awful to us today, and point out that several hundred years from now, some of the things we consider treats (e.g., swimming pools and ice cream sundaes) probably will seem just as undesirable. Next, ask worshipers to remember some of the beautiful places they have visited. Explain that the psalmist thought the dew on Mount Hermon was just as beautiful.

Watch Words

There are no central words in today's texts or themes that require special explanations for children.

Let the Children Sing

"O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing" includes verses which tell today's Gospel stories, interspersed with lots of Alleluias. The Presbyterian hymnal offers an especially good arrangement of the verses. Older children will try harder to keep up if they are told in advance that this is a storytelling hymn. Younger children catch some of the story and join in on the Alleluias.

The words of "Blest Be the Tie That Binds" are not easy for children. To help them learn the meaning of the song, illustrate it by instructing worshipers to hold the hand of, or put a hand on the shoulder of, their neighbor while singing this hymn.

If the focus is on Jesus' gift of peace, sing "I've Got Peace Like a River" or "Dona Nobis Pacem." For the anthem, a children's choir or class might sing the latter as a round.

The Liturgical Child

1. Base a prayer of confession on the differences between the children of light and the children of darkness:

Lord, you have called us to be children of light, and we want to be, but sometimes we act more like children of darkness. Children of light love and care for others, but too often we love ourselves most and take care only of ourselves. Children of light are honest in all things, but we sometimes twist the truth to get our own way. Children of light admit it when they are wrong, but we try to cover up our sins or pretend that they are only mistakes. Forgive us.

Assurance of Pardon: Because we are children of light, we know that we are not perfect. We also know that God loves us. Indeed, Jesus lived, died, and has risen so that we might know that God forgives us. When we admit our sins, God promises to forgive us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

2. Highlight the offering. Just before it is collected, speak specifically about how the money is used to care for those in need. Name institutions and projects with which children as well as adults are familiar. If you gathered a special Easter offering, tell how much was given and describe how it will be used. In the prayer of dedication, mention some of the ways the church cares for those in need, and pray for their effectiveness.

Sermon Resources

1. To explain Jesus' Easter peace, compare rolling down a hill or spinning in circles until you are dizzy to the spins and tricks done by dancers, skaters, gymnasts, or divers. Athletes learn to focus on a single point, around which their movements revolve. Dancers focus their eyes on one spot, to which they keep returning as they spin. Divers and gymnasts find a balanced position, to which their bodies return after each trick. These focus points make their movements possible. Without them, the athletes would become dizzy and fall. On Easter, God gave us a focus point the knowledge that we are loved and forgiven by God. No matter where we go or what we do, if we keep reminding ourselves of that fact, we will keep our balance. That balance is the peace that Jesus promised.

2. Try writing, and challenging worshipers to write, new versions of Psalms 133 which describe "how wonderful it is, how pleasant when God's people live together in harmony." Suggest that they write about images that make sense today, or descriptions of the times they have sensed that harmony in your congregation. Display worshipers' psalms on a bulletin board.

Note: If you focus on the giving of the Spirit, consult Pentecost for additional liturgical and sermon resources.


Adapted from Forbid Them Not: Involving Children in Sunday Worship © Abingdon Press

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