Worship for Kids: November 18, 2018

September 16th, 2018

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 1:4-20. The story of Samuel's birth suggests several interesting areas for exploration. First, children are pleased that God took the side of the pestered person. Since most children, at one time or another, feel as pestered and unhappy as Hannah, they are relieved to know that God cares for such people and works to help them. Just as God did not choose the wife with many children to be Samuel's mother, God might choose the less-than-straight-A student or the non-star athlete for special work.

Similarly, they find security in hearing that God can and does act to right what look like hopeless situations. Just as God surprised Hannah, God can surprise us!

Finally, it brings up the always interesting subject of birthdays. Hearing the story of Samuel's birth invites children to hear stories of other births and the truth that God is involved in planning for and guiding each one. If it is the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the story may lead to thanking the God who creates us as we are, sets us in unique families, and watches over us.

WARNING: Hannah's answered prayer leads some children to ask why God has not answered their prayers especially when they have prayed as earnestly as Hannah did about situations as critical as hers.

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 2:1-10. If children hear in advance that this is a prayer Hannah prayed when Samuel was born, and they hear it read with great feeling, they will catch the meaning of occasional lines.

Epistle: Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18), 19-25. This lection summarizes the series of readings on Christ as the high priest. To understand it, the reader needs to have understood the previous points about the perfection and finality of Christ's sacrifice, and the function of Christ's blood. Children who have heard these points have lost interest in the whole idea. Those who have not heard them in previous weeks are quickly overwhelmed by explanations of the whole idea on a single Sunday.

Verses 22-25 are more child-accessible. They are a call to gather under the leadership of Christ, our High Priest, to worship, to care for one another, and to encourage one another to be good disciples. Children respond well when this call is illustrated with examples of specific things they can do to answer the call. The Good News Bible offers an easier translation for children.

Gospel: Mark 13:1-8. In their history classes, older children are learning the stories of the rise and fall of nations, and in the process, they often read about people who lived through periods of great change. They therefore are beginning to grasp that some events, which at the time may have seemed like the end of the world, in the long run proved to be only small changes. With this knowledge, they can accept Jesus' insistence that nothing not even the Temple, or Jerusalem lasts forever. Only God is forever.

Older children need to hear Jesus' warning about people who claim that they know when the end of the world is coming, or those who say that they are leading God's people toward the final day. Because they will inevitably hear such claims, they need to be told clearly, and in advance, by the leaders of their church, to ignore them.

This text can be paired with Hannah's song, to emphasize the wisdom of trusting only God's love and power.

Watch Words

Speak of God's loving care, rather than God's providence.

Do not let Jesus' talk of the end of time lead you to speak about the apocalypse or millennium without explaining the terms.

Let the Children Sing

If the focus is on God's providence, highlight the verses about family love in "For the Beauty of the Earth," and enjoy the repeated phrases in "God Be with You Till We Meet Again" and "God Will Take Care of You."

If the focus is on the Gospel, "Hymn of Promise" offers simple words about everyday things like seeds and butterflies.

The Liturgical Child

1. Read the story of Samuel's birth from The Children's Bible in 365 Stories, rather than from a Bible translation. While one would not want to make a habit of reading the free translations of storybooks instead of the Bible itself, this particular story is so winsomely told that it helps both children and adults appreciate what happened more fully than does the Scripture.

2. Have a young mother take the role of Hannah, to read Hannah's song with all the feeling tha Hannah expressed.

3. Invite the children to join you as you sit on the steps. Describe how Americans from other parts of the country feel when they visit Washington, D.C., for the first time. Point out that the disciples felt the same way when they saw the Temple in Jerusalem. Just as the tourists are proud and often feel that a country that could build such buildings and monuments will last forever, the disciples felt that the Temple and Jerusalem would last forever. With this background, open the Bible on your lap and read about the conversation between Jesus and his disciples as they looked at the Temple. You may want to conclude with some summary remarks, such as "Nothing but God lasts forever."

4. In the chancel, prominently display a birthday cake with one candle on it. At the end of the service, give each worshiper a cupcake with one candle. (Perhaps an older-children's class could be ready to pass them out.) Suggest that as the cupcakes are eaten, people recall the stories of their birth and give thanks to God for all the ways God cares for them.

5. Offer a responsive prayer to God. A worship leader cites a variety of seemingly hopeless situations, in which God surprises us with powerful, loving care (e.g., an enemy becomes a friend at the end of the Cold War; we find that we can do something we were frightened to try). To each, one the congregation responds:

"There is no Holy One like the Lord!

There is no Rock like our God!"

Sermon Resources

1. Tell the birth dates, and perhaps the stories of the births, of the youngest and oldest members of the congregation.

2. Tell stories of other special births from the Bible: Abraham and Sarah, who thought they were too old to have a baby; Naomi and Ruth, who expected to live out their lives as poor widows until Ruth married Boaz and Obed was born; Zechariah, who was so surprised when he learned that Elizabeth would have a son that God struck him mute until John was born; and so forth. Also recall the "normal" births (such as that of Moses) of people whom God loved and used to raise up God's involvement in all births.

3. Tell stories about leaders who announced that the end of time was coming soon and convinced people to give them all their money. The false leaders promised that the money would be used to save others and that the givers would be rewarded in the new world. While children and adults tend to laugh when they hear some of these, the stories prepare them to evaluate new claims.

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