Worship for Kids: October 3, 2021

August 1st, 2021

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Job 1:1, 2:1-10. Because children hear stories from the Bible literally, they must be told clearly that Job was not a real person that the story about Job was made up to tell people something important about God. Without this information, children hear that God is capable of toying with people just to see what they will do in terrible situations, and they worry that God might do the same with them. They are also frightened to hear that God might allow children to be killed to test their parents, and they need to be reassured that God does not do such things.

Job's response to adversity in verse 2:10 requires more experienced understanding than children possess. Basically, Job says that it is easy to love God and to say thank-you prayers when we have everything we need, but we are to love God even when we do not have everything we need. Preadolescents, for whom a relationship or friendship with God is becoming important, learn from Job that we are not to use God to get what we want. Our conversations with God should include more than "Please, give me," and "Thank you." We are not nice to our best friends just to get what we want. We love them no matter what, and our relationship with God should be like that with our friends. (The Good News Bible's translation of 2:10 is the translation that makes most sense to children.)

Psalm: 26. If this psalm is introduced as a psalm Job could have prayed and read from the Good News Bible, children catch some phrases about how the poet lives and some of the phrases that praise God.

Epistle: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12. Children are baffled by this passage as it is read. But with help, they respond well to its definition of Christ, which focuses on what he does rather than what kind of being he is. However, they depend on the preacher to translate this list of activities into more familiar terms:—Christ worked with God to create the world.
—Christ continually cares for the whole universe.
—Christ lived among us as Jesus of Nazareth and accepted being crucified.
—Christ is just like God. When we learn what Jesus Christ is like, we learn what God is like.
—Christ forgives us.
—Just as Christ was at the beginning with God, Christ will be at the end of the world with God.

On Worldwide Communion Sunday, Christ is the host of the sacramental meal to which the whole world is invited.

Gospel: Mark 10:2-16. In a culture that endorses serial marriage, children need to hear the church's insistence that God intends marriage to be a lifelong commitment. Such commitments need to be described and held up as the Christian ideal. Children need to listen in on adult-oriented sermons that suggest practical ways to make and maintain such marriages. In the process, they will begin to lay the foundations for their own marriages. On the other hand, children also need to hear that just as God forgives us when we are greedy or lie or steal, God also forgives us (and our parents) when we (or they) fail to make marriages last a lifetime. Divorce is sad and sinful, but forgivable.

Jesus' blessing of the children is familiar to most church children and taken by them to mean simply that Jesus liked children and took them seriously. Adults may tell children to "grow up" and be more like adults. But Jesus tells the adults to be like children.

Watch Words

The devil and Satan are clearly tied to evil in the minds of children. Older children are interested in the different role taken by Satan in the story of Job. The adversary who comes closest to paralleling Satan is the sparring partner with whom a wrestler or boxer develops power and skill.

Christ is a somewhat confusing word for many children. They tend to think of it as being Jesus' last name. Introduce it as a title that belongs only to Jesus. Tell what the Christ does. Be consistent in using Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ, or some other form.

Beware of the abstract language in Hebrews.

Let the Children Sing

Praise the God of family love with "For the Beauty of the Earth." If its examples of the work needed to make a marriage last a lifetime are highlighted during the sermon, "When Love Is Found" can be sung by children. Celebrate Jesus' love of children with "Jesus Loves Me" (see esp. the second verse).

"Come Christians, Join to Sing," with its Alleluias, and "When Morning Gilds the Skies," with its repeated phrase "May Jesus Christ be praised," invite children to praise Christ.

The Liturgical Child

1. Have youth or adult actors pantomime Job's story as it is read (consider reading Job 1:1-2:10). God and Satan could wear white turtleneck shirts and stand together at one side, while the other actors wear dark turtlenecks and work at the center of the chancel.

2. To turn the section of the Apostles Creed about Jesus into a responsive affirmation, a worship leader pauses after each phrase, as the congregation responds: "We believe Jesus is the Christ."

3. If you focus on the meaning of the title "Christ," welcome worshipers to the communion table at which Jesus Christ is host. Present it as Christ's feast, or party table, to which everyone in the world is invited.

4. Follow Jesus' example of blessing the children by praying for the children of your congregation. Pray for their families, give thanks for specific ways their classes, choirs, and so on contribute to the life of the congregation, and mention the joys and problems at school and on sports teams. In smaller congregations, pray for each child by name.

Sermon Resources

1. Most children have heard of the saying, The Devil Made Me Do It, or have seen it on T-shirts and bumper stickers. They understand that it is an attempt to wiggle out of responsibility. Job could have cursed God and said, "The Devil made me do it," but he didn't. The devil or Satan may test us, but only we can decide how to respond. Job knew the truth that children are learning that only we can make ourselves do or not do anything. Like Job, we are responsible for what we say and do, even in the most difficult situations.

2. If you focus on Christian marriage:

—Let couples indicate by a show of hands, or by standing, how long they have been married. For example: "Will all who have been married between 10 and 20 years stand where you are." In an informal congregation, determine who has been married longest and who is the most recently wed.
—Read and discuss the marriage vows used in your congregation. Put the vows into your own words. Cite everyday examples of the ways these vows how they are kept.
—Compare the work required to live by your congregation's wedding vows with the unrealistic ending of many fairy tales: "And they lived happily ever after."

3. Match what the writer of Hebrews said about Christ with the symbols for Christ displayed on the paraments, in the windows, or other places in your sanctuary. Point out and explain the mean- ing of different crosses and other symbols. The final and most important symbol on Worldwide Communion Sunday is the presence of the loaf and cup on the communion table.

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