Worship for Kids: November 7, 2021

September 2nd, 2021

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17. Both children and adults enjoy the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. It is an interesting tale about admirable people who acted with courage and kindness in everyday situations. It even has a happy ending. It is a story that begs to be told, more than preached upon. So, rather than read today's summary texts, pick up the entire story from last Sunday.

Out of concern for others, all three characters do more than is required. Ruth would have been better off at home, but accompanied Naomi to a difficult life in Bethlehem and worked hard in the fields to provide food. Naomi could have given up in self-pity, but she carefully worked out a plan to find a good husband for Ruth. Boaz could have ignored Ruth as an undesirable, somewhat distant relative, but he protected her when she worked in his fields and responded compassionately to her brave request that he assume family responsibility for her and Naomi. Their actions are models for children and adults today.

To understand the court proceedings, children need only hear that any man who bought the land that Ruth inherited from her husband had to marry her.

Psalm: 127. Verses 1-2 remind us that we rely on God's trust and care in all we do. The examples of building a house or guarding a city are straightforward and can lead children to create parallel verses about trusting God in their own activities.

Verses 3-5 might have been sung by Obed's family at his birth. Unfortunately, boys today may use these verses to prove their claimed superiority over girls.

Epistle: Hebrews 9:24-28. After four previous readings about priestly things, children's interest is exhausted. Furthermore, the content, logic, and point of these verses are too subtle. This is a text to read for the adults.

Gospel: Mark 12:38-44. It is tempting to use this story with children to point out that their small contributions are important. While children do need to hear that their small money offerings and services are as valued as the bigger contributions from adults, this story is about something else. It is about giving our all.

The difference between the proud scribes and the generous widow is that the scribes put just enough money in the offering box to make a good impression (all they really cared about was getting the best of everything for themselves), while the widow gave everything she had, because she truly wanted to help. It is as difficult for children as it is for adults to follow the example of the widow. Among other things, it can mean sharing "my own" money (received as birthday gifts and baby-sitting fees), as well as the money provided by parents specifically for the offering at church.

When the details are pointed out, older children grasp the similarity between the action of Ruth, who stayed with Naomi, and that of the widow, who put both her coins in the offering.

Watch Words

Gleaning is not a familiar activity for even farm children today. If your church is active in a Second Harvest ministry, explain how it gleans leftover food from food producers, grocery stores, and restaurants to feed hungry people.

Modern translations do not use mite, but the church has traditionally spoken of the widow's mite. If you use the term, define it.

WARNING: The small boxes in which children collect coins for special offerings, once called mite boxes, now are often called coin banks or coin boxes.

Scribes are simply church leaders.

Let the Children Sing

In honor of Ruth, Naomi, Boaz, and the generous widow, use "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God." To recall the truth about God's care, which each of them knew, sing "Lord of Our Growing Years." Note which verse goes with which character and urge singers to find the verse that fits them. Though they cannot follow the verses, even beginning readers can join in on the repeated chorus of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."

"Be Thou My Vision," with its emphasis on what is most important, and "Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated," with its offer of all parts of our bodies, are good ways to offer ourselves completely to God.

The Liturgical Child

1. Display a large standing arrangement of wheat or other brown grasses, instead of flowers. Leave several stalks lying on the table (waiting to be gleaned). Refer to this display to explain gleaning.

2. If you read most of Ruth, keep listeners' attention and emphasize the story by having it read in good storyteller style by one male and one female reader:

1:22b-2:23: Male reader describes the meeting of Boaz and Ruth.

3:1-18: Female reader tells Naomi's plan.

4:1-12: Male reader describes Boaz in court.

4:13-22: Female reader tells the outcome.

3. From the lectern, begin reading the Gospel in proud tones. After verse 40, move to stand near the offering plates. Gesture toward the plates as you read verses 41-42 in a normal tone. Face the congregation directly to read Jesus' words to the disciples in 43-44.

4. Offer a prayer about giving:

Lord, we dream of doing brave deeds and giving generous gifts. But we seldom do the deeds or give the gifts. We are too easily frightened by what might happen. We are afraid we might be hurt, we are afraid we may have to work too hard, we are afraid we might fail, we are even afraid of what other people will think. Forgive us for giving in to our selfish fears. Help us, instead, to see more clearly what we might be able to do, and give us the courage to help others by trying to do the difficult things. Make us into your strong, loving people. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: God understands our fears. Jesus prayed that he not be crucified. Like us, he did not want to be hurt. But Jesus loved us and knew what we needed, so he faced crucifixion. Just so, God can give us the courage and power to do the loving deeds that frighten us and that we fear will hurt us. Thanks be to God!

Sermon Resources

1. Devote the sermon to retelling, with commentary, the story of Ruth and Boaz. The Children's Bible in 365 Stories presents the story clearly and suggests simple ways to explain the cultural context. A male/female team could preach a dialog sermon in first person, assuming the roles of Boaz and Ruth (perhaps near the end of their long lives together) to retell and comment on the story.

2. The most familiar examples of young people who give everything in order to do what is most important to them are the young athletes who are preparing for sporting competitions like the Olympics. To practice their sport they give up participating in all other clubs and activities. They may even go to special schools or move away from their families to live with the very best coaches.

3. Last Week When I Was Rich, by Judith Viorst, tells how a boy spent the $2.00 his grandparents had given him, but ended up with nothing he really wanted. Sloppy stewards of all ages recognize themselves in this humorous tale and can compare this boy with the widow who gave everything she had for what was most important to her.

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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