Worship for Kids: January 23, 2022

September 2nd, 2021

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10. Before children can understand all the excitement and tears in this story, they must know what the Law is. For this passage, the Law is five books of the Bible that include (1) the stories of what God had done for people, from Adam and Eve to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses and the people he led out of slavery in Egypt; and (2) what God expects of people (including the Ten Commandments). Children also must know that none of these people had heard the Law read for many years. (You might compare the situation to what would happen if the Gospels were read in your congregation for the first time in many years.)

With this background, children follow the story easily and generally are impressed by how long the crowd listened and by their tearful response. The key idea is that the stories and rules in the Law were very important to those people. We are challenged to see the importance of the Law (and the rest of the Bible) for our lives, too.

Psalm: 19. In this context of Nehemiah, the focus of this reading is on verse 7-10. No matter which translation you select, these verses are filled with big words that are synonyms for the Law, or the Bible. Older children are helped by being reminded that Hebrew poets rhyme ideas, rather than sounds. So these verses are a repetitious list of wonderful things about the Bible.

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a. This passage requires symbolic thinking beyond the ability of younger children, but this is a good opportunity to challenge older children to begin such thinking. The challenge is most effectively presented by working on both sides of Paul's symbol before trying to connect them.

Most children quickly understand the interdependence of the parts of a physical body. With some guidance, they can recognize that people within the congregation doing different kinds of work need one another and their differing gifts. The similarity between these two truths, however, will be a hard connection to make. It requires that children see themselves as parts of Christ's body. This vision often begins when an older adult thanks an errand-running child for "being my feet." Once children can see themselves as Grandma's feet, they can understand that they also can be Christ's feet. Many everyday examples of being Christ's hands, eyes, and so on will clarify this possibility. As this vision becomes clear, children will finally understand Paul's symbolic connection and, thus, his point. This is a job to chip away at over several years—not to complete in one sermon.

Gospel: Luke 4:14-21. In this passage Jesus introduces the goals for his life and ministry. His goals are ones children can understand, especially if they are given some help with difficult words. Children can be challenged to see Jesus' goals as goals for their congregation and to accept some or all of them as goals for their own lives.

Watch Words

Define Law, and be careful about the synonyms you use. "Anointed me to" means "chosen me to." To "proclaim liberty to the captives" means "to free prisoners." To "proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" is to promise that God (through me) is acting to save you now!

Let the Children Sing

About the Law (Bible): "Wonderful Words of Life" has an easy chorus and repeats the title in each verse, making it easy for nonreaders.

"Tell Me the Stories of Jesus" does not celebrate the whole of the Bible, but only the stories about Jesus. It is one of the few hymns about the Bible that children can sing with understanding.

About Jesus' Commitment, and Ours: "Be Thou My Vision" is a hymn of commitment that many children love. Because it has some difficult words, use this hymn only if it is familiar. Try "Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak."

The Liturgical Child

1. Ask six older children, or six readers of a variety of ages, to present the following reading of Psalm 19:7-14 (GNB). (This reading preserves the sense of parallel or rhyming ideas about God's Law.) In the sanctuary, practice reading loudly and clearly, with happy, proud voices.

Reader One: The law of the Lord is perfect; if gives new strength.
Reader Two: The commands of the Lord are trustworthy, giving wisdom to those who lack it.
Reader Three: The laws of the Lord are right, and those who obey them are happy.
Reader Four: The commands of the Lord are just and give understanding to the mind.
Reader Five: Reverence for the Lord is good; it will continue forever.
Reader Six: The judgments of the Lord are just; they are always fair.
Reader One: They are more desirable than the finest gold;
Reader Two: they are sweeter than the purest honey.
Reader Three: They give knowledge to me, your servant;
Reader Four: I an rewarded for obeying them.
Reader One: No one can see his own errors;
Reader Two: deliver me, Lord, from hidden faults!
Reader Three: Keep me safe, also, from willfull sins;
Reader Four: don't let them rule over me.
Reader Five: Then I shall be perfect
Reader Six: and free from the evil of sin.
All: May my words and my thoughts be acceptable to you, O Lord, my refuge and my redeemer!

2. To emphasize what Jesus read from Isaiah, begin reading the narrative in Luke from the Bible at the lectern. Then, from a large scoll, read the Isaiah passage in verses 18 and 19. If possible, step out of the lectern to read this passage. Then lay the scroll aside, step back to the center of the lectern, and continue Luke's narrative.

3. At the end of the service, change the pronouncs in the Isaiah passage from first person to second person to charge the congregation: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon you, because God has chosen you." In the benediction, remind worshipers that just as Jesus sent out his disciples with the promise that he would be with them always, so he also sends us out with the same promise.

4. If you focus on the Law, pray for the church school classes and teachers. If you focus on work and goals, pray for the specific gifts and ministries of your congregation.

Sermon Resources

1. If you focus on the Law, challenge all listeners to participate in the congregation's study classes; also offer other specific suggestions for reading the Bible.

Pockets, a magazine published by The Upper Room, offers daily Bible readings with prayer suggestions (as well as stories and games) for elementary children. Give a copy to each child to introduce them and their families to this fine resource. Order from: Pockets, 1908 Grand Ave., P.O. Box 189, Nashville, TN 37202-9929.

2. If you link the New Testament lessons, write a paraphrase of Paul's message, using groups in your congregation. For example, the choir cannot say to the church school teachers, "We do not need you." Nor can the youth group say to the women's circle, "God has no use for you anymore."

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