Worship for Kids: September 12, 2021

July 24th, 2021

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Proverbs 1:20-33;

Psalm: 19 or Wisdom 7:26-8:1. Too often, Wisdom, when personified, sounds as if it is either a fourth person of the Trinity or some kind of angel. Most children simply tune it out as incomprehensible adult talk. But because they have been exposed to Indian lore, or "wisdom," children can make sense of the "wisdom of God" as being the ideas and values that come from God. This makes Psalms 19 the easiest of today's wisdom lections for children. Older children enjoy identifying the synonyms for "wisdom" in verses 7-9 and noting what the psalmist says about each one.

The abstract language in the Wisdom of Solomon makes it the least child-accessible of the three.

At the beginning of a new year of teams and clubs, children benefit from comparing the wisdom of the coach, the wisdom of the teacher, and the wisdom of God.

Epistle: James 3:1-12. Children understand and enjoy James's images about our tongues. As the autumn fire-prevention season arrives, they are aware that a small match can start a large fire, and from experience, they know that one mean word can start a fiery fight between friends. At an early age, children learn what it is to regret what they have said but be unable to undo its damage. The images of the bit in the horse's mouth and the rudder of the sailboat may be less familiar and therefore harder to explain to children. Finally, children chuckle knowingly at the mental picture of a circus lion tamer making tigers and lions and tongues do their assigned tricks. Laughing at this ridiculous image leaves a mental picture that reminds them to control their tongues.

"Tongue problems" that cause trouble among children include saying mean words that hurt others, telling lies to make themselves look good or others look bad, telling secrets they promised to keep private, and (among younger children) sticking out their tongues to show their disdain.

Gospel: Mark 8:27-38. Children empathize with Peter in this question-and-answer session. Like him, they have answered a question almost correctly, and then made a mistake which the teacher seemed to think was more important than the part that was right. Peter knew the right answer to the question about who Jesus is the Christ. He just did not understand what it meant to be the Christ or to be a follower of the Christ.

Like Peter, children need help in understanding and following Christ. Because they do not yet have a clear understanding of what "self" is, they cannot understand what self-denial means. For them, Jesus' call is to give up "what I think would be wonderful for me" or "what I want to do," in order to do "what is good for someone else." Examples help, so speak of such things as giving up a movie with your friends in order to baby-sit with your younger sister so your parents can go out. When the examples come from their own experience, children begin to realize that the happiness that comes from such giving is better than the happiness that comes from getting or doing what they want. This realization is a solid foundation upon which they can build their understanding of and response to Jesus' call.

Watch Words

Wisdom consists of all of God's ideas about how the world should be and how we should treat one another.

For children, a cross is the wooden form on which Jesus was killed. Calls to take up your cross are interpreted as calls to die in that same way. So, speak instead of doing what God commands, even when it is not to your advantage, and of giving up what is rightfully yours to take care of others.

Remember that it is not our tongues, but our words that get us into trouble.

Most children think Christ must be Jesus' last name. There is value in explaining what Peter and others meant when they said that Jesus was "the Christ."

Let the Children Sing

"God's Law Is Perfect and Gives Light" sets Psalms 19:7-14 to music in simple phrases that older-elementary readers can follow. Its repeated chorus, "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage," makes "God of Grace and God of Glory" another good wisdom hymn.

Avoid hymns in which "cross" is used as a symbol for self-sacrificing love. Hymns such as "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone" or "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" are interpreted literally and therefore easily misunderstood.

This is the first of six Gospel lessons on discipleship. Consider repeating one less-familiar discipleship hymn each week. With repeated use, children can learn "Christ of the Upward Way" or "Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord," if the words are highlighted in other parts of worship. "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian," "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God," and "Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated" are the discipleship hymns children sing most readily.

The Liturgical Child

1. Have a man read Proverbs 1:20-21 (the introductory verses) before a woman, in the role of Wisdom, reads verses 23-33. Though children do not understand what or who wisdom is, they will catch occasional phrases in what she says.

2. Create a responsive prayer, asking either for wisdom in several areas of life, or for help in using our tongues well. The congregational response for either is from Psalms 19:14 : "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord." For example:

God of Wisdom, be with us when we want too much. When we watch interesting commercials and see wonderful things for sale in stores, give us the wisdom to know the difference between what we want and what we need. When we see what others have and want it for ourselves, remind us that jealousy always leads to trouble. (RESPONSE)

3. Invite worshippers to affirm their faith with Peter by responding, "He is the Christ!" to each of a series of statements about what Jesus did and who Jesus is:

Jesus was born in a barn because there was no room available in the inn. The innkeeper and most of the people in Bethlehem that night thought he was nobody, but we say, (RESPONSE) Jesus made friends with everyone. He ate dinner with Zaccheus, the cheating tax-collector. He healed foreigners. He touched lepers. Lots of people said he was a troublemaker, but we say, (RESPONSE) Jesus was a teacher. Crowds of people gathered on hillsides to hear him speak about God's love. The teachers in the Temple said he was wrong about God's love, but we say, (RESPONSE) Jesus said, "Love your enemies," "Give to those in need," and "Those who lose their life for my sake will save it." Most people thought he was crazy, but we say, (RESPONSE) Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced to die on a cross. The political and religious leaders thought they were rid of him, but he rose, and he lives. We know that . . . (RESPONSE) When Jesus said, "If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, carry his cross, and follow me," most people went home. But we stay, and we say, (RESPONSE)

Sermon Resources

1. Proverbs tells us what Wisdom cries out in the marketplace. Create speeches that Wisdom might give at school (do your homework and learn what is required, so that you will be able to get along in the world and do God's work effectively); at home (treat people at home with the same consideration you give people at work and at school); and at church (learn God's ways, and then follow them as a church and as individual Christians).

2. Jiminy Cricket, the little voice that constantly reminded Pinocchio about right and wrong, may come closest to personifying Wisdom for children. Older children connect both Jiminy Cricket and Wisdom with our consciences.

About the Author

Carolyn C. Brown

Carolyn C. Brown is a certified Christian educator and children’s ministry consultant who believes children read more…
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