Worship for Kids: August 7, 2022

February 25th, 2022

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20. Isaiah's message is one children can understand: God is not fooled by people who worship God, but do not obey. Isaiah's references to Old Testament worship practices, however, are a problem. The easiest way to solve this problem is to point out that sacrifices, new moon festivals, and sabbaths were ways people in Isaiah's day worshiped, just as choir anthems, Christmas pageants, Easter flowers, and beautiful prayers are ways we worship today. The Good News Bible offers the clearest translation for children.

Psalm: 50:1-8, 22-23. Consider reading this entire psalm for the sake of clarity. (The jump from verse 8 to 22 is a long one.) When they hear the psalm read dramatically, children hear, in occasional lines, a message that parallels that of Isaiah.

Epistle: Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16. This passage is an attempt to define faith. For children, faith is trust. Abraham and Sarah trusted God when they were called to move to an unknown land, and also when God promised them a son, though they knew they were too old to have children.

We are called to trust God as Abraham and Sarah did. Today that means trusting that God loves us and made us with a good plan in mind for us. It also means we know that God is working to make the world a loving, happy place and that we are ready to help.

Gospel: Luke 12:32-40. In its opening verses (32-34), this passage continues the theme of last week's Gospel lesson, but it involves a number of abstract images (the Kingdom, purses that do not wear out, and the location of treasures and hearts) which must be worked through if children are are to understand them.

The second part of the passage focuses on the need to be constantly prepared for God's presence. Three prepared people are noted: servants prepared for their master's return from a wedding feast at any hour; a homeowner prepared for a thief whose approach is known; and a Christian prepared for God's presence. Children need help to find each of these people in the somewhat run-together passage, but they can appreciate them when found. They also need specific suggestions about what they can do in order to be prepared for God (e.g., use well the talents God has given them, be loving, worship God on their own and with others).

Watch Words

Hypocrite may be a new word. Today it describes a person who goes to church and sings about loving God and prays about serving God, but then is selfish and cruel during the week.

Faith is best paraphrased as trust.

Let the Children Sing

When it is pointed out, older children appreciate the connection between worship and discipleship in "Lord Speak to Me."

Conclude worship and begin living as disciples with "Go Forth for God." Though younger children have trouble with the verses, they enjoy singing the repeated first and last lines.

Faith hymns tend to be filled with abstract jargon. For children, sing "Jesus Loves Me" or "The Lord's My Shepherd."

The Liturgical Child

1. Invite different groups within your worshiping community to share in the Prayer of Confession:

Leader: We gather here as God's people to worship, to sing God's praises, to hear God's Word. But to be honest, we want to keep what we sing and pray and hear just between you and me. We are not ready to take it out to our workplaces, shopping malls, playgrounds, and swimming pools. So our worship must include confession. Let us pray.
Choir: Lord of the arts, we love to sing your praises. We enjoy beautiful music and find friends among choir members. But we are not so ready to praise you during the week. We are slow to speak up for you at work, hesitant to stand up for what is right among our friends, and unwilling to live up to our sung praises. Forgive us.
Ushers: Lord of loving friends, we are happy to welcome people to worship. We gladly smile and help them find a seat. But we are not always so open to others. We often ignore people who come our way. We feel no responsibility for those who need our help. Forgive us.
Preacher(s): Lord of the Word, I/we work hard to find beautiful words to praise you and clear words to help others understand your will. But I/we often fail to practice what I/we preach. My/Our actions do not live up to my/our words. Forgive me/us/
Congregation: Lord of the Church, we come to hear words that reassure us and to sing hymns that give us hope. We want to be told that we are O.K. and that God loves us. We would rather not hear your calls to take care of others and to change our ways. Forgive us.
All: Forgive us when our actions do not match our songs and prayers. Amen.

2. Present the psalm with two readers. The first reader takes the part of the narrator and sets the scene for the heavenly encounter with God, reading verses 1-4, 6, and 16b-23. God's outrage should be evident in the presentation. (The New Jerusalem Bible offers an especially clear translation.)

3. Before reading the Luke passage, alert the children to listen for the three prepared people. As you come to each of them in the reading, raise one, then two, and finally three fingers.

4. Create a litany prayer about being ready. The worship leader offers petitions for God's work (name mission activities of the congregation, specific community concerns, and global issues, being sure to include some activities in which children participate). After each petition, the congregation responds, "Let us prepare the way of the Lord!"

Sermon Resources

1. At the beginning of the sermon, have someone assume Isaiah's role and interrupt the service to deliver a paraphrase of Isaiah's message, substituting modern worship practices for the Old Testament ones (e.g., I have heard enough of your fancy music). "Isaiah" would then call for the activities described in verses 16-17 and warn that God is willing to forgive those who change their ways, but will see that those who do not change die. (For a less dramatic alternative, the preacher could take Isaiah's role, after inviting the congregation to imagine how Isaiah's listeners felt when they heard what he said.)

2. Talk about who and what we trust. Describe our trust in appliance-repair people, doctors, pilots, drivers of vehicles in which we ride, the friend to whom we tell a secret, the baby-sitter with whom parents leave their children, or the teacher or coach who teaches us to play a musical instrument or to excel in a sport. Recall current commercials that ask us to trust their products. Talk about the kid who dares us to try something new (perhaps swinging across a creek on a rope or taking drugs). Compare trusting people to trusting God's love and God's call to be peacemakers and loving friends.

3. To explore Luke 12:32-34, bring some props:

—Pull out your wallet or purse. Show the congregation what is in it. Describe your feelings and what you would have to do if it were lost or stolen. Then reread Jesus' message and talk about safer purses.

—Bring several of your treasures (or pictures of nontransportable treasures). Include a variety, such as a collector's item, a hobby tool, a memento of a person or trip, a picture of your family, and so on. Describe the objects' value to you and how you would respond if they were "messed with."

Then talk about how protecting our valuables can turn us into defensive worries and keep us from loving people and letting them love us. In the process, encourage worshipers to identify some of their treasures that may be getting in their way.

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