Worship for Kids: August 27, 2023

July 4th, 2020

From a Child’s Point of View

Old Testament: Exodus 1:8-2:10. If you have been preaching on the Joseph saga, point out to the children that these Hebrews are the great, great . . . great grandchildren of Joseph and his brothers. Then simply read the text. Children need little help with it, especially if it is read from The Good News Bible.

Most church children are familiar with the story of the baby in the basket and enjoy hearing it read in the sanctuary. They particularly relish the heroic role of Miriam, the child who was left standing by the river all day to watch the basket. She stuck with her boring task, was on duty and alert at the critical moment, did some quick thinking, and made a courageous move in speaking to the princess. God used her good work to save Moses. So little kids do count. God chooses children, as well as adults, to do important work.

Psalm: 124. This psalm of deliverance assumes that the reader knows the outcome of the Exodus story. Even children who know it do not recognize it here. Therefore, as you invite them to hear or read the psalm, tell them that it was written after God had rescued the Hebrews from the pharaoh.

Though the psalmist probably was thinking metaphorically about the floods of life, children make more sense of the psalm if the floods are presented as the waters that flooded the slave babies killed by the pharaoh. The psalm then praises God, who saves people in such situations.

Epistle: Romans 12:1-8. For children, the sacrifices of the Old Testament were gifts people brought to God. Paul urges us not to buy gifts for God, but to make our whole lives gifts to God (12:1), and he tells us how to do so. First, we are to follow Jesus’ teachings, rather than what others want us to do (12:2). We are not to follow the gang, or pay too much attention to TV commercials, or even listen to adults who tell us to do things we know are wrong.

Second, we are to remember who we are. We are important people, created with specific gifts. We are not to be stuck-up about our gifts, but learn to use them well to do our part of Christ’s work. This text and the Romans text for next week make good back-to-school sermons. The Good News Bible offers the most child-accessible version.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20. Teenagers and adults are impressed by Peter’s willingness to take an individual stand, independent of “what others say.” Children, however, are at a stage of mental growth and faith development which requires them to choose between groups, rather than stand as individuals against groups. So for them, this is a story about how Peter chose Jesus as his leader, rather than choosing some other group or person. When Peter called Jesus the Messiah, he was making him the master of his life. Children are called to make the same decision Peter made. The church is made up of people who have made that same decision.

Watch Words

A midwife is a woman who helps a mother give birth to her baby at home. Before there were hospitals, most babies were born at home with the help of a midwife.

In recent lections, faith has been a matter of trust. That is the most significant definition for children. In today’s Gospel text, Peter’s faith is expressed in terms of what he thought or understood about who Jesus was. This is a very different definition, so be careful about how you use both faith and belief today.

Let the Children Sing

“I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” is a fitting tribute to the Exodus women and the heroes and heroines.

Every verse of “Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know” is a series of questions, to which the last line (the same in all verses) is the answer. Watching for this format can help children pay attention and keep singing.

Give your lives to God with “Take My Life, and Let It Be Consecrated.”

The Liturgical Child

1. The Good News Bible formats Psalm 124 as a conversation between a leader and the congregation. Preserve that pattern with a worship leader and the whole congregation reading. Or ask a children’s or youth class to present it as a choral reading. The pattern is:

Leader: verse 1

Congregation: verses 2-5

Leader: verses 6-8

2. Feature the part of one of the historic creeds that speaks about Jesus. In the sermon, discuss the meaning of the statements in that section. Suggest that during this discussion the worshipers, especially children, turn to that creed in the hymnal or prayer book. Following the sermon, invite the congregation to say that creed as an affirmation of their faith.

3. Before the offering (perhaps during the sermon), invite worshipers to draw or write on one side of a slip of paper a gift that God has created in them; on the other side, of the paper, draw or write one way they promise to give that gift back to God during the coming week. Suggest that they place the papers in the offering plate as a symbol of their intent. Promise confidentiality and instruct ushers to respect it.

Sermon Resources

1. Miriam was a courageous, fast-thinking baby-sitter. Many older children are beginning to baby-sit for their own siblings and for neighborhood children. A popular series for this age group is "The Baby-Sitters Club," which recounts the adventures of four seventh-grade girls who band together to provide baby-sitting services. In Ann M. Martin’s "The Truth About Stacy" (Scholastic, 1986), they compete with a club of older baby-sitters who do not take their jobs seriously. Things come to a head when the younger girls find three-year-old Jamie, without cap, boots, or mittens, playing unattended by the curb on a slushy day. The girls take Jamie back inside, tell his parents what happened, and confront the older girls with a baby-sitter test which proves their superiority as baby-sitters next morning at school (pp. 126-34).

2. The Exodus text tells of three courageous females. Be creative in unpacking their stories. Imagine several conversations Between Shiphrah and Puah as they respond to the pharaoh’s orders. Consider having two costumed women act out the responses, “freezing” between conversations for your comments.

Or create a diary entry for Miriam, for the evening after she saved Moses.

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