Worship for Kids: November 21, 2021

September 2nd, 2021

From a Child's Point of View

Gospel: John 18:33-37. The Gospel lesson announces that Jesus is King, but a very different kind of king from most earthly kings.

Many earthly kings rule all the people who live in an area they have conquered. Their subjects must obey or move away. King Jesus does not force his rule on anyone. He is the ruler of all people everywhere who listen for the truth. His subjects are not forced into his kingdom, but choose to enter it.

The subjects of many earthly kings listen obediently to whatever the king says. They understand that whatever the king says must be obeyed just because the king says it. Subjects of King Jesus have listened to what Jesus says and decided to obey him because they think he is right.

Old Testament: 2 Samuel 23:1-7. In the context of the day's other lections, David's last words describe good and bad kings, thus offering a comparison to Jesus. David insists that a king (or president) who rules justly and according to God's will is as welcome as the sun that rises on a cloudless day, or that shines on the grass after a soft rain. An evil king is as welcome as sticker bushes that have thorns so sharp they can be handled only with tools and that are burned when they are found. David knows that good kings make such a difference that he says he will die happy with God's promise that his descendants will be good kings and (Christians would add) that God's special king would come from his family. The Good News Bible offers the best translation for children.

Psalm: 132:1-12 (13-18). An understanding of this psalm requires knowledge of David's life, the Davidic covenant, and Zion theology. Few adults and fewer children have such knowledge, and offering detailed explanations in the context of worship on Christ the King Sunday is counterproductive. If you do read this psalm to illustrate David's kingship, use the Good News Bible's translation.

Epistle: Revelation 1:4b-8. John wrote Revelation to be read by groups of Christians hiding out together. It was meant to be read aloud for encouragement and inspiration, rather than studied for detailed information. Because all the poetic images were readily understood by listeners, they provided great dramatic punch. Today, understanding the images in detail requires scholarly study. But when the text is read dramatically, even children grasp its basic point that Christ is Lord of all. So, instead of dissecting the passage in the sermon, use it in liturgy today to celebrate Christ's kingship.

Watch Words

Speak of King Jesus. Enjoy royal vocabulary familiar to most children royal, majesty, rule, decree, obey, subjects. Avoid or introduce terms such as reign, monarchy, sovereignty, and omnipotent (especially if you feature the Hallelujah Chorus).

Let the Children Sing

"He Is King of Kings" is probably the Christ-the-King hymn children sing with most zest. It may be sung as a congregational hymn or as an anthem, perhaps with a children's choir singing the chorus and an adult singing the verses.

"Come, Christians, Join to Sing," "Rejoice, the Lord Is King," and "When Morning Gilds the Skies" have repeated phrases that make them easy for nonreaders. While the vocabulary of "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" makes it impossible for even advanced-elementary readers, the repeated "and crown him Lord of all" can be sung by everyone.

Sing "Joy to the World" to welcome Christ, who is King all through the year. Though they cannot read the difficult words, young readers recognize this carol and enjoy singing it in a different season. (If you sing it today, be sure to also include it at Christmas, and remind worshipers then about singing it today.)

The Liturgical Child

1. Use Revelation 1:4 b-8 as the Call to Worship, with three adult worship leaders reciting the verses loudly and dramatically, from three separate places at the front of the sanctuary:


Stand behind the communion table. If there is a chalice on the table, lift it high with both hands on verses 5b and 6, making those verses almost a toast.


Stand to one side, perhaps in the lectern. Take the role of the messenger.


Stand to the other side, perhaps in the pulpit.


"Let us worship God!"

2. Emphasize the conversation in the Gospel either by turning in different directions and assuming appropriate postures, attitudes, and tones for Pilate and for Jesus, or by turning it into a readers' theater, with narrator, Jesus, and Pilate. Plan ahead for ways to express key phrases vocally and with gestures and facial expressions. Verses 34 and 35 require particular attention.

3. Prayer of Confession: Jesus, we claim that you are King, but we are not loyal subjects. We want to get ahead, wear fine clothes, play the sports we enjoy these are the real kings of our lives! Forgive us.
Lord, we claim that you are King, but we do not obey you. We ignore the rules you have given us, and we follow our own selfish desires. Forgive us.
Christ, we claim that you are King, but we do not serve you, and we do not follow your call to serve others who need our help. Instead, we greedily serve ourselves and our own wants. Forgive us.
Forgive us, and remake us into loyal subjects who do your will so completely that everyone around us will recognize you, working through us. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Christ did not come to us to be a high and mighty king who looked down on us. Christ did not come to judge us. Christ came to love us and to forgive us and to give us the power to do better. Christ the King is the loving Lord who saves us. Thanks be to God! Amen.

4. Feature the "Hallelujah Chorus" from The Messiah, with all its references to the rule of Christ. Before it is sung, compare our feelings when we sing it at Christmastime with our feelings at Easter. Suggest the meaning of singing it on Christ the King Sunday. Print the brief text in the bulletin, and urge children to listen for repeated phrases about Christ the King.

Sermon Resources

1. Display one banner for each season of the church year. Use them to review the meaning of the different seasons. Point to different symbols on each one, recalling all the ways we know and worship Jesus. (Consider having the banners carried in and set in place by older children during the opening hymn.)

2. Children's literature offers both good and bad kings to use as examples. Compare the emperor in The Emperor's New Clothes, who demanded that all his subjects admire his nonexistent clothes, with Jesus, who is King of truth. Or describe King Arthur, more like the good king that David wanted for his people, who claimed that "right makes might" not "might makes right."

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