Worship for Kids: July 24, 2022

January 10th, 2022

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Hosea 1:2-10. This passage is for adults. Children not only do not get the point, but are offended by the story. Because they hear literally, their first concern is for the children who are given such awful names at God's direction. They imagine the children being called on by a teacher or being called home by a parent and wonder how those children would be teased because of their names. They wonder how God could do something so mean to make a point to adults who were misbehaving. Furthermore, even worldly wise children who understand the technicalities of the relationship between Hosea and Gomer cannot understand the full dimensions of a mature marriage relationship and the pain involved when it is broken. Consequently, they cannot grasp Hosea's message. Next week's focus on the relationship between a parent and a rebellious child makes much the same point for all worshipers and is more child-accessible.

Psalm: 85. I suspect that this psalm is included among today's texts as a hopeful balance to Hosea's message of judgment. Children, however, hear the questions in verse 5 and want to know who is in trouble and why. The psalm does not say, and matching the psalm to Hosea's text looks past the punishment which the disloyal people had brought on themselves, to their restoration. That leap is too big for children.

Children with vivid imaginations giggle over the word pictures in verses 10 and 11. Except at least one young worshiper to smack an overdramatic air-kiss to another.

Epistle: Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19). This is part of a letter written to grown-ups about grown-up intellectual problems. The children of Colossae were probably as unconcerned about these issues (except when it upset their parents) as are children today. The one point that makes sense to children is that Jesus is to be the center of their lives (vss. 6-7).

Gospel: Luke 11:1-13. This passage introduces the Lord's Prayer (vss. 1-4); it also offers a rather baffling parable and then a more sensible set of teachings about God's response to our prayers.

Older children will be interested in how this version of the Lord's Prayer developed into the one used in your church today. They also will benefit from comparing several different versions of the prayer and from exploring the meaning of each phrase.

The teachings in verses 9-15 invite children to stretch their understanding of how God responds to prayer. Many children assume that God can respond only by giving us what we ask for or by speaking audibly to us. This text suggests that God has as many options as does a loving father who tries to respond to his children's needs.

Watch Words

If you choose to focus on Hosea, speak of loyal husbands and wives, rather than prostitutes or harlots. Do not use faithful today without defining it in terms of loyalty. A faithful pet is the best example of the faithfulness to which we are called.

Even if they pray it regularly, most children need help with the vocabulary of the Lord's Prayer. Hallowed needs to translate as holy. All the "kingdom" words—kingdom, thy will be done, power, glory—need to be tied together so that children can understand the whole as the prayer of the citizens of God's kingdom. Young children will not understand daily bread as including any food other than bread, unless they are introduced to this possibility. Trespassing is going into somebody's house or yard without permission; debts are financial bills. Children need help to connect these realities to sin and forgiveness. Temptation may be a big word to learn. Remember that for many children today, the only things that are delivered are mail, pizza, and catalog orders. So paraphrase "deliver us from evil" with something like "guard us from evil people and things."

Let the Children Sing

If the Old Testament texts lead to a focus on loyal living, sing "O Jesus I Have Promised," which includes difficult vocabulary but relationship images that children like, or "Trust and Obey." Though children have trouble with the verses, they quickly learn the chorus. A children's choir or class might sing the chorus in response to congregational singing of the verses.

Sing the Lord's Prayer:

1. Children's or youth choirs enjoy singing "The Lord's Prayer" to a West Indies tune. Many youths know this version. (It is printed in Songs for Today, a youth songbook by Augsburg Press, and it may be printed in other books.) A choir may sing it as an anthem; the choir and congregation may sing it responsively, the choir singing the phrases of the prayer and the congregation singing the repeated "hallowed be thy name."

2. The traditional version of the Lord's Prayer can be sung by the adult choir or by a soloist.

The Liturgical Child

1. Use the Lord's Prayer as an outline for the prayers of the congregation. The worship leader prays the Lord's Prayer aloud, pausing after each phrase for the worshipers' own related prayers.

2. Turn the Lord's Prayer into a three-part litany. Worship Leader #1 reads one phrase at a time. Worship Leader #2 adds prayers related to that phrase and the life of the congregation. Then in silence, the worshipers add their own prayers related to each phrase.

Sermon Resources

1. To explore Luke 11:9-15, describe three kinds of gifts and compare them to three ways God responds to our prayers. The first gift is the surprise we had not even considered asking for, but which delights us. God often gives us such surprise gifts. The second gift is just what we wanted. Sometimes God gives us what we want and pray for. The third gift is not at all what we wanted, but something that becomes more valuable as we live with it. God may not respond to our prayers as we wish. Often, with time, we begin to value and understand God's response. But sometimes we do not.

In describing each gift, tell about similar gifts you have received. Include at least one childhood gift. To keep the children's attention, place three wrapped gifts on the pulpit. Point to and handle each one as you discuss it.

2. Older children appreciate a sermon that works through the phrases of the Lord's Prayer. Provide them with a printed copy of the prayer with the phrases printed in separate paragraphs. Encourage children to check them off as you work through them, or to write them in their own words next to the printed text.

3. Paraphrase the Epistle text, substituting some modern ways we are tempted to make ourselves look better. Children sometimes put all their time and energy into athletics, winning Scout badges, or working for perfect grades, just to prove they are good enough. Paul insists that we are simply to be Jesus' loyal disciples.

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