Worship for Kids: July 4, 2021

May 15th, 2021

From a Child's Point of View

Today's texts deal with strength. Children are very interested in acquiring strength and in measuring their strength against that of others. Although they think first of physical strength, even young children understand strength of the mind and persuasive leadership. Dealing with these texts near the Fourth of July leads American adults to ponder the kinds of strength our country values. Only the oldest children, however, are beginning to understand such questions.

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10. In this passage, God's promise that David would be king is kept. Unfortunately, compared to previous dramatic stories about David, this story seems anticlimactic and has little to attract the attention of children. For them, it is mainly an opportunity to review David's experiences thus far. The theme is that God kept the promise. David has become king not because he is stronger or smarter than anyone else but because God has chosen him to be king.

The fact that David probably was about ten (old enough to be out with the sheep but not yet an official male member of the worshiping community) when he was anointed and thirty when he became king, means that it took God about 20 years to keep the promise. For young David, and for today's children, 20 years is a long time, so children appreciate David's patience as he kept waiting and trusting.

Psalm: 48. Reading Psalm 48 is like singing another country's national anthem. Even though one understands some of the words and references, it does not mean much and is impossible to sing with the fervor of a patriot. Children reading Psalm 48 encounter so many unfamiliar names, places, and events that their attention spans expire before explanations are completed.

Epistle: 1 Corinthians 12:2-10. Children cannot follow this passage as it is read, but depend on the preacher to set it in context and present its important message. The context is one with which children are familiar. People (in this case, church leaders) are having an "I'm better than you" argument. Paul's opponents have been describing all the ways God has spoken to them and all the miracles they have performed. Paul's response is that he too has had some spectacular experiences of God's presence, but the most significant was the presence of God with him when he was weakest. Instead of trying to impress others with his strength, Paul told about God's help in dealing with his "thorn." Paul does not rely on his own strength, but trusts God's strength.

Like adults, children enjoy guessing what Paul's thorn might have been and identifying the thorns in their own lives. The passage can be used to explore either God's presence with us when we are coping with our thorns, or Paul's put-down of boasting about our strength.

Gospel: Mark 6:1-13. These two stories describe what children can expect as followers of Jesus. Jesus' family and friends did not understand or believe him. Likewise, when children today live as disciples, their friends and even their families may think they are a little crazy. When Jesus sent out the Twelve to proclaim his message, he did not send them well-equipped, trained knights on a quest, but as poor messengers, ready to speak to whomever would listen, and then move on without any big show when people did not listen. To children bombarded with encouragement to be strong and capable, this says that among Jesus' followers, it is more important to obey God than to be strong. If we obey God, God will do powerful things through us, just the way we are.

Watch Words

Because children do not know the literal meanings of the Zion vocabulary in Psalm 48, they are totally lost if it is used symbolically.

The opposite of strong in today's texts is not weak, but trusting. Rather than trust in their own limited strength, David and Paul trusted God's unlimited strength.

Let the Children Sing

"God of Grace and God of Glory" is a prayer of trust in God's strength. Though children learn the meaning of the verses slowly, even the youngest can join in on the repeated chorus, "Grant us wisdom, grant us courage."

The repeated lines at the beginning and end of each verse make "Go Forth for God" a hymn in which children can join the congregation in committing themselves to discipleship like that of the Twelve.

The Liturgical Child

1. Base a Prayer of Confession on our tendency to trust our own strength, rather than to depend on God:

God of the Universe, all of us want to be strong. We are quick to claim, "I did it myself," when we do something good. We dream of doing magnificent deeds. We want to think that we can do anything, if we only work at it. But when we are honest, we admit that the strongest of us are weak. We depend on you for the air we breathe, for life itself. We confess that we get into the most trouble when we ignore you and depend on our own strength to do things our own way. So finally, we must depend on you to forgive us. We ask you to forgive us when we use our strength selfishly or cruelly, to stick with us when we ignore your power, and to stand by us when we find ourselves at the end of our strength. Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good News! God's love is powerful, indeed! On the cross, Jesus had the strength to forgive those who killed him and the thief who was hanging beside him. Through Jesus, God also forgives us, and loves us, and gives us the power to live as God's people. Thanks be to God!

2. Base the Charge and Benediction on the commissioning of the Twelve:

As Jesus sent out his twelve disciples, I send you out. These are your instructions: Share God's love with everyone you meet this week. Make friends with those who are lonely. Help those who need you. And stand up for God's loving ways. For this mission, you do not need any fancy equipment or special training. Simply use what you have. It will be enough. It will be enough, because the loving God who is the Strength of the Universe will be with you, and will work through you with power that will surprise and amaze you. So go out in God's name, and go in peace.

Sermon Resources

1. To help worshipers get the feel of the argument that is the context of the Epistle reading, act out one or more similar arguments from today's world:

"On my vacation, I . . . ."

"Well, on my vacation, I . . . !"


"My dog can . . . ."

"Oh yeah? Well, my dog can . . . ."

2. In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker slowly learned to obey "the force" and let it work through him. It was not his light saber, but his obedience to "the force" that gave him the power to conquer the dark side. Similarly, Christians do not receive their strength from anything magic, but from obeying God and doing God's will. When we obey God, we are often surprised at what can be accomplished.

comments powered by Disqus