Worship for Kids: March 10, 2019

February 1st, 2019

From a Child's Point of View

Gospel: Luke 4:1-13. Each of the three temptations Jesus faced invites a rich variety of interpretations. To children, the first temptation is the temptation to use our power to get what we want. Jesus' temptation, and that of many poor children today, is to be sure to get enough. For other children the temptation is to go for the biggest cookies, the lion's share of the fries, the prettiest dresses on the rack, and the best toys on the block. Jesus' response to this temptation is to remind himself that a life centered n being sure that we get the things we want and need is not much of a life (or will be a lonely, unhappy life, even if we do get most of the goodies).

The second temptation is to be "king of the world"—to get one's own way. In responding to this temptation, Jesus completely ignores the fact that he would have made the very best king of the world ever. Instead, he insists that he is not king of the world—God is. Therefore he will obey God's rules and do God's will. We are called to do the same when we are tempted to make everyone play the game we want to play, go to our favorite restaurant to eat, or watch the television show or video we want to see.

The third temptation for children is the temptation to use our skills and powers to be the center of attention—to show off. Jesus could have used his power to do show miracles and great feats. Instead, he used it to heal and take care of others. We can use our brains to get the best grades in the class and win all the awards. Or we can use our brains to learn about God's world and find ways to be friends with others. Similarly, we can use our athletic abilities or musical talents to impress others, or we can use them to help everyone have a good time together. Whatever our talents or power may be, we are to use them with as much lover and concern for others as Jesus did.

Old Testament: Deuteronomy 26:1-11. Children will not quickly understand this passage. The contradictory repetition of the ritual action is hard to follow, and the story recited in the creed probably will not be recognized without help—even by those who are familiar with the Exodus sage. But this is one case in which providing the needed help is well worth the effort—especially for older children.

Ten- to twelve-year-olds are very interested in the groups to which they belong. Many of them define themselves in terms of these groups: I am an American, one of the Jones family, a Scout—even one of God's people. Being part of a significant group that is "bigger than me" is appealing to these children. They appreciate the possibility of claiming the story of the group as "my" story and letting that story influence the way they act and the things they value. This passage invites children to claim the story of God's people as their story and to let it shape their lives.

Epistle: Romans 10:8 b-13. The message of this passage for the children is that God saves and protects all who believe and will say so. The only way to be cut out of God's love is to say we do not want it. Conversely, if we do not stand up for God in what we say every day, we cut ourselves off from God. You will need to present these truths in your own words: Paul's words are too complicated for the children.

Psalm: 91:1-2, 9-16. Many children, especially those who have had fortunate lives thus far, hear this psalm simply as praise for God's care. But other alert, literal-minded children will question the relationship between this psalm and realityas they know it. There are no satisfying answers for these children. Explaining the text's probable source as a psalm for a king going into battle, or its use by Satan to tempt Jesus, may help adults, but it will not answer the children's questions. So it may be best to read the passage and let it stand as is until the children are older.

Watch Words

Confess, to most children, means to admit wrong. In today's creedal lessons, it means to state one's beliefs. Since the word is used in every translation of the Epistle, it would be helpful to redefine confess before reading.

Let the Children Sing

"Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Day," a natural choice for adults, is filled with Elizabethan didsts,sin jargon like penitence, and concepts such as Passiontide, which are strange to children.

"I Love to Tell the Story" celebrates the way we confess our faith. "For the Beauty of the Earth" confesses God's care in everyday terms. It also might be a good Sunday to sing the profoundly simple confession, "Jesus Loves Me." (No less tha Karl Barth quoted this song when asked to summarize his faith and theology.)

The Liturgical Child

1. Present the Deuteronomy passage dramatically. As a narrator begins reading the passage froma lectern, a person (possibly wearing a simple tunic) walks forward to the worship center carrying a basket full of fruit and vegetables, and places the basket on or in front of the table. At the appropriate time, he or she faces the congregation to recite verses 5b-10, and leaves as the narrator completes the reading.

2. To parallel the Deuteronomy passage and to link our stewardship to our confessions of faith, plan for the congregation to say a creed (perhaps the storytelling Apostle's Creed) at the time the offering for the day is brought forward to be dedicated.

3. Lead the people in praying silently about their temptations. Give instructions such as those below, leaving silence between each one.

As we come before God, let each of us pray. We each have long lists of things we want and think we need. Let us tell God about these things and ask God to help us avoid the temptations in them. (Pause)
We all want our own way. We act as though we are king or queen of the world. Let us tell God the truth about how we try to get our own way at home and work and school. (Pause)
Each of us has talents and abilities and gifts. Thank God for yours, and talk with God about the way you use those gifts to care for others, rather than to make yourselves look good. (Pause, then invite the congregation to join in the Lord's Prayer.)

Sermon Resources

1. To recall the Exodus story, the base of the Deuteronomic creed, shows a series of large teaching pictures that illustrate the story. (Look for these in church school closets.) Take the pictures into the congregation one at a time as you review the story during the sermon. In an informal congregation, the worshipers might tell the stories of some of the pictures. In formal congregations, the worshipers will enjoy a close look at the pictures as the preacher tells the stories.

During the rest of the sermon, challenge the children to draw pictures of events in their own faith stories—something that has happened at church, or a time when they felt God was taking care of them. Or they could draw their own version of one of the pictures you showed. Respond to the children's pictures as they leave the sanctuary at the end of worship.

2. Bring three props: a credit card (gold, if possible)—for wealth; a crown (check the Christmas costumes)—for power; and a foil-covered star—for fame. Display each prop on the pulpit as you preach about that temptation, to help the children tune in, at least briefly, on each of the three main points of the sermon.

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