Worship for Kids: July 14, 2019

April 7th, 2019

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Amos 7:7-17. For children, this contains two rather separate stories. Verses 7-9 focus on the plumb line and God's demanded accountability. Because few children have seen or used plumb lines, they need to learn about them before they can understand Amos's point. The check sheets or star charts with which children record their performance of assigned chores are a familiar equivalent of Amos's plumb line. The point of each is that we are responsible for what we do and for what we do not do. God cares about what we do.

Verses 10-17 are a story of Amos's courageous bravery in doing what God had sent him to do. When the story is dramatically presented so that children realize the risk Amos took in standing up to Amaziah, they are duly impressed and can hear God's call that they should be that courageous in standing up for what is right.

Psalm: 82. Successfully explaining in worship the psalmist's references to a heavenly court is nearly impossible. Most children will simply hear occasional lines that demand justice and will assume that they are addressed to all people.

Gospel: Luke 10:25-37. The parable of the good Samaritan appears in much church school curriculum and therefore is familiar to children. Without knowing about Jewish-Samaritan relationships, young children can grasp Jesus' basic message that we are to treat as neighbor any person who needs our help. As older children learn the significance of the good neighbor being a Samaritan, they can use the parable to reevaluate their responsibility to people who are not in "their group." For fifth- and sixth-graders, who have strong group loyalties, this is an important task. Retelling the parable in modern settings and making up versions of the parable that include children the same age as those in your congregation are often ways to help children get the point.

Epistle: Colossians 1:1-14. This is the greeting (vss. 1-2) and opening prayer (vss. 3-14) of Paul's letter to the church in Colosse. Paul writes in cosmic, abstract terms about the faith of the Colossians. Basically, he is thanking God that the Colossians have responded to the good news and praying that God will give them the power to live as good disciples. But children will not be able to pull this meaning from the long, complex sentences and abstract terms. Given the richness of the other texts for the day, it is advisable to speak to children through those texts rather than through this one.

Watch Words

Children take pride in being responsible. Therefore, speaking about responsibility has more impact than speaking about accountability or judgment.

The Amos text is the first of six texts that deal with the impending exile. This term will be new to most children and many adults. Take time to introduce it. Then use it frequently in ways that build familiarity.

Samaritan, Levite and priest need not be defined in cultural terms. Offering modern parallels to each term is as, or even more, effective.

Let the Children Sing

In response to Amos's call to live up to God's standards, sing "Spirit of the Living God," "Have Thine Own Way," or "Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated." Sing, or have a choir sing, "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder."

"God of Grace and God of Glory" can be sung in honor of Amos's bravery and as a prayer for disciples in similar situations today. A children's choir might sing the chorus in response to congregational singing of the verses.

"Let There be Peace on Earth" and "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian" are two hymns with which to commit ourselves to being good neighbors.

The Liturgical Child

1. Present the Amos text with a narrator and three adult men—Amos, Amaziah, and Jereboam. The narrator may read in the lectern, but the others should have their lines memorized for delivery in place. Jereboam stands authoritatively off to one side, arms folded across his chest. He may wear a crown. Amaziah stands beside the central table as if he controls it. Amos stands forward. All three use strong arm movements to emphasize their words. Amaziah and Amos may come nose-to-nose for their angry confrontation in verses 12-17.

2. Children enjoy pantomiming the story of the good Samaritan as an older child reads it from the Bible. Simple costumes help. A middle-elementary class might prepare the whole presentation as a class project. (If you are uncomfortable with a child/donkey in the sanctuary, omit the donkey and have the Samaritan support the victim with an arm around the victim's shoulders.)

3. During the church's prayers, pray aloud for the congregation's neighbors and offer times of silence in which worshipers may pray for their own neighbors. During one silent period, bid them to pray for each member of their families. After a general prayer for the congregation, bid worshipers to pray in silence for one member of the congregation whom they know has special needs. Follow the same procedure when praying for people in your community (groups such as the homeless and individuals encountered daily), and for the people of the world (victims of natural disasters and those caught up in political events). In all cases, speak of specific groups with specific needs.

Sermon Resources

1. During summer, children are more often in unsupervised groups in which they have opportunities to stand up to others for what they know to be right. Shoplifting; petty vandalism; cruel tricks on, or exclusion of, others; forbidden feats, and so forth call for the courage of Amos when he stood up to Amaziah.

2. "It doesn't matter" is a phrase used by both children and adults to evade our responsibility. Sometimes we say it when we mean that the person hurt by what we said or did does not matter (for example, that "ol' cry baby's" tears don't matter or that the people caught in the cross-fire of a war are expendable). Sometimes we say it when we mean that the damage is of no real consequence (for example, that her broken toy doesn't matter or that the extinction of the spotted owl is no great loss). And sometimes we say it when we are trying to make our larger goal justify the damage (for example, that I had to "borrow" her pen to finish my project or that we worked outside the law for "national security"). Amos says to all, "It does matter." God cares about what we do and do not do. We are responsible for all our words and deeds.

3. Include items from the Worship Worksheet cross-word puzzle in speaking of the ways we measure things and measure ourselves.

4. Retell the good Samaritan story, setting it in your town and including people the children in your congregation have encountered. (If I were telling the story, a mugging would take place near the bus station. The mayor and a minister would pass by, but a homeless alcoholic would stop to help.)

5. In response to the good Samaritan parable, talk about groups and group loyalty. While celebrating the benefits of groups, point out how easy it is to ignore others beyond the group and actively hurt others with group-centeredness. Cite examples such as fans of rival soccer teams fighting, groups of close friends making fun of those they do not accept in their group, and members of children's clubhouses causing trouble in the neighborhood.

About the Author

Carolyn C. Brown

Carolyn C. Brown is a certified Christian educator and children’s ministry consultant who believes children read more…
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