Worship for Kids: May 12, 2013

April 8th, 2013

Note: The Ascension of the Lord texts may be substituted for the Seventh Sunday of Easter texts. This is advisable if children (and most older worshipers) will have no other opportunity to worship around the Ascension stories.

From a Child's Point of View

Gospel: John 17:20-26. Children are quickly lost in the repetitive phrases and pronouns of the Great High Priestly Prayer. It helps to introduce this part of the prayer to them as Jesus' prayer for everyone in the church, including us, and to encourage them to listen to the prayer as being Jesus' hopes for us and all God's people.

In children's words, Jesus' hope is that we will be as close to God as he is. This is not an impossible wish. Jesus knows it can come true. He also knows that if we are that close to God, we will attract others to God. People will see God's love in us and in the way we treat others.

Epistle: Revelation 22;12-14, 16-17, 20-21. If you have been decoding the Revelation texts, today's verses provide older children a review of Revelation code words and introduce a new one. "The bride" is a code word for the Church universal. Everything "the bride" is a code word for the Church universal. Everything "the bride" is and does, the church (including us) is and does. According to this vision, one important job of the church is calling people to come to God.

The text also has important things to say about Jesus, the "I" of this vision. The most important to children is the reassuring promise that Jesus was there at the beginning and will be there at the end. There is no time when Jesus will not be with them, caring for them.

Acts 16:16-34. In the context of Easter and of today's lections, this is an example of a day in the life of a church member (or one in a white robe, or an Easter person) who is spreading God's love. Paul and Silas heal a mentally ill slave girl, are taken to court by her owners, are whipped and thrown into prison, are saved from prison by God (working through an earthquake), and preach to their jailer. Children are immediately impressed by the dedication of Paul and Silas and, when it is pointed out, see God's help and support.

Psalm: Psalm 97. When this is introduced as a poem praising God, who rules the universe, children hear and understand a number of the phrases. For today's worship, it is a song Paul and Silas might have sung in prison and a song for Easter people everywhere, especially those who are in trouble for speading God's Word.

Watch Words

For children, hope generally is related to wishing for good things that may or may not happen (e.g., receiving a desired birthday gift or winning a championship). So talk today about what we can depend upon or what we can trust God to do and be, rather than on what we hope.

For children, unity as being one with God and unity as being one with all Christians are different experiences. They need to hear specific examples of each. An understanding of how the two are linked will come later.

Let the Children Sing

Conclude the Easter season with "Come, Christians, Join to Sing," with all the Alleluias, or "Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart," with its repeated chorus of praise.

If "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" was sung during Advent, sing it today to celebrate the Easter fulfillment of the Advent promises. Children enjoy the contrast between the sad, wishful verses and the happy chorus. Young readers may not be able to read the verses, but can join in on the chorus. The choir might sing the verses, with the congregation responding on the chorus.

The Liturgical Child

1. Instruct worshipers to close their eyes while you remind them, in your own words, of John's vision of Jesus Rev. 1:12-16). Then, read dramatically what Christ says in today's Revelation lection. For maximum impact, Christ's words might be read loudly from a remote microphone.

2. Invite worshipers to read the psalm responsively. The two groups may be congregation and choir, two halves of the congregation, or two groups (classes or choirs) of older children who have prepared it. The New Revised Standard Version offers the easiest reading for children.

All Verse 1
Group 1
Group 2 Verse 2a
Verse 2b
Group1
Group2 Verse 3
Verse 4
Group 1
Group 2 Verse 5
Verse 6a
Group 1
Group 2 Verse 6b
Verse 7
Group 1
Group 2 Verses 8-9
Verse 10
Group 1
Group 2 Verse 11a
Verse 11b
ALL Verse 12

3. After the Acts lection is read and before Psalm 97 is read, suggest that Psalm 97 is a hymn that Paul and Silas might have sung that night in prison. Instruct worshipers to hold their hands crossed at the wrists in front of them. Wrists should not rest in laps but be held uncomfortably in the air as if chained together. Invite worshipers to imagine how it felt to sing the psalm in that situation.

4. Create a responsive prayer of petitions with the congregation responding "Come, Lord Jesus" to each of the leader's descriptions of situations in which God's power and love are needed. For example:

God, you call us to live in unity with one another. But we see more people who are ignoring one another or fighting than are getting along. So we pray for the children who call one another names on the playground, for the Israelis and Palestinians who fight over the Holy Land, for the Asians and Hispanics and Whites and Blacks who hate one another. (RESPONSE)

5. Remember end-of-school-year concerns in the church's prayers on the appropriate Sundays. See Ascension of the Lord, Liturgical Child 3 for specific suggestions.

Sermon Resources

1. Speak one last time of the Easter tokens. Recall the ways you have used your during this Easter season, then offer this suggestion for future use. Fingering the two sides of the token, suggest that one side reminds bearers that God loves them and is with them always, while the other side reminds them that they are to spead God's love to others.

2. Tell of a day in the life of today's witnessing church that parallels a day of Paul and Silas in Acts. Describe either a day in the life of your congregation or in the life of the worldwide church. Cite specific examples of Christians who are witness, putting up with persecution, and knowing God's support. Include activities with which children are familiar and in which they participate (e.g., mission projects to which they have contributed, peacemaking on the playground, and so forth). Consider focusing on a specific day in the last week.

3. Both Gospel and Epistle readings point to the fulfillment of God's Advent promises. To explore that fulfillment, combine the sermon with the decorating of a freshly leafing small tree set in a bucket. As you hang each Chrismon ornament, recall what it meant at Christmas and talk about what it means after Easter. The Alpha and Omega, the star of Jesse, the morning star, and the cross over the world are especially appropriate.

 

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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