Worship for Kids: July 7, 2019

April 6th, 2019

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: 1 Kings 5:1-14. The story of Namaan's cure first attracts the attention of children because the heroine is a little girl. The fact that a little slave girl provided the key information about the cure and that Namaan and his wife took her suggestion seriously delights children, who often feel they have nothing important to contribute and that adults do not take their ideas seriously.

The importance of "little things" (a slave girl's information and a bath in a muddy river) is shown in two ways. First, it insists that God is at work in everyday events as well as in dramatic events. Children who grow up with the spectacular biblical stories often overlook God at work in the love of their families, the activities of their church, and the events of their own lives. This story encourages children to look for God at work in everyday events.

Second, as Namaan's servant pointed out, we should be as willing to do nonspectacular deeds as we are to do the dramatic ones. Children often undervalue their deeds of lovingkindness and playground peacemaking because they are not as dramatic as those in the Bible. They long to do heroic deeds and solve big problems in single strokes. They need to be reminded that God is working out the big plan through all our little efforts. Just as God used the information from the slave girl and cured Namaan—not with a great feat but with a bath in a muddy river—so God uses and values our efforts to love others and to share God's love with them. No loving deed is too insignificant to be noticed and used by God.

Psalm: 30. The underlying understanding of death and illness as signs of God's anger or punishment keep children from understanding all the lines of this psalm. If, however, the psalm is dramatically presented, children understand occasional lines and sense its feeling of relieved joy.

Epistle: Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16. This passage falls into two sections. The second, verses 11-16, summarizes Paul's position on the circumcision debate, an issue children do not understand. But the first, verses 1-10, deals with consequences, a reality elementary children deal with every day, as adults encourage them to think about the consequences of their actions before they act and also to face up to the consequences afterward. Nonagricultural children need help with Paul's sowing and reaping images. They more readily understand the results of practicing (or not practicing) a sport or musical instrument. Paul's abstract sowing "to the flesh" or "to the Spirit" need to be illustrated with specific results that come from loving others rather than thinking only about ourselves.

Gospel: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20. This passage provides balance for last week's readings about the frustrations of being a faithful disciple. When the seventy-two were sent out, they did their work with more success than they dreamed possible. Though they may not understand the details of Jesus' instructions to the group, children will catch the drift of the story and pick up on the excitement of the seventy-two as they return successful. A dramatic reading will focus the children's attention on the disciples' excitement, rather than on the problematic promise about walking on snakes and scorpions, or on the picture of the devil falling from the sky. Children, especially older children who are defining themselves by the groups they join, are encouraged to join the excited disciples doing God's work in amazing ways.

Watch Words

Leprosy, with its social isolation, needs to be described.

Do not assume that children will understand the reaping and sowing language in Luke and Galatians.

Let the Children Sing

"I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" and "We Are the Church" (Avery and Marsh) are upbeat hymns that celebrate the church at work together. "God of Grace and God of Glory" is harder, but children can join in on the repetitive chorus.

Choosing "I Sing the Almighty Power of God" is one way to celebrate God at work in the world. "All Things Bright and Beautiful" focuses on both big and little things.

The Liturgical Child

1. The story of Namaan and Psalm 30 also are read on the Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany in Year B. See resources for that day in this series for a Prayer of Confession about our failure to do "little things" (Liturgical Child 2), directions for pantomiming the story of Namaan (Liturgical Child 1), and a Worship Worksheet with a complete-the-story activity.

2. Present Psalm 30 as Namaan's prayer. Ask someone to assume Namaan's role, reading the psalm dramatically, as if praying it on his way home.

3. Pray about "little things" in which you sense God's presence and power. Note sermons, sunsets, and other weather events of the past week. Thank God for the Bible school, the church-camp experience for children, and other activities of your congregation in which you see God at work. Mention events in the community and human-interest events from abroad which indicate that God is at work among people every day. Then pray for the will and the wisdom to do "little things." Pray for the patience to say kind words when we feel tired and crabby, for the strength to keep forgiving people we need to forgive frequently (like brothers and sisters), and for the wisdom to find little ways to help relieve hunger and end homelessness.

4. Create a praise litany citing "successes" within your congregation and within the larger church. Be sure to include some activities in which children participated. To each example, the congregation replies, "Praise God, who is doing wonderful things through us."

5. Before pronouncing the benediction, charge the congregation in the same spirit with which Jesus charged the seventy-two:

As Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples to teach, care for the sick, and make friends with the friendless, so I send you. Go out into (your town or area) to share God's love. Talk to those who will listen, take care of those who need help, and do your part to bring God's kingdom closer. As you go, remember that many people are waiting for you and will welcome you. Also remember that Jesus will be with you always. Amen.

Sermon Resources

1. Preach about God's work in the "little things." Tell stories about the little ways you see God at work in the life and ministry of the congregation. Describe making caring phone calls and visits, making tray favors for institutionalized people, and inviting newcomers of all ages to church. Encourage people to value the little things others are doing in God's name and to look for little things they can do to share God's love and build God's kingdom.

2. Tell stories of amazing successes in the church. For example, describe the mushrooming work of Habitat for Humanity. In less than thirty years, this house-building ministry has used volunteer labor and donations of materials and money to build thousands of houses for needy people to build thousands of houses for needy people in countries all around the world. (Read No More Shacks by Millard Fuller if you do not know this story.)

Or describe the effect of one Heifer Project—a flock of chicks sent by a children's church school class to a family in an underdeveloped country (eggs to eat, sell, and hatch into more chicks).

Or desribe the results of work your congregation has done.

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