Worship for Kids: September 22, 2019

August 9th, 2019

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Jeremiah 8:18 –9:1. When children hear Jeremiah's lament over his people's suffering in context, they easily understand why Jeremiah was so sad. The passage, however, offers no meaningful message for them.

Children who know "There Is a Balm in Gilead" catch the reference to the "balm in Gilead" and appreciate a simple explanation of what that balm is, what it means in Jeremiah's wish for his people, and what it means in the song.

Psalm: 79:1-9. Children quickly understand this psalm when it is introduced as a poet's prayer after invaders have destroyed Jerusalem. The vivid words in verses 1-4 of the Good News translation make clear just how bad it was.

In this psalm we can hear a people who had decided against God's ways and ignored God's warnings, respond positively to God's punishment. Apparently God's punishment worked. They were ready to listen. Their situation can be used to point out that sometimes God must punish people to get their attention and to urge them not to be so stubborn that drastic punishment is required.

Epistle: 1 Timothy 2:1-7. This passage calls on us to pray for all people everywhere. God loves all people. Jesus came for all people. Therefore, we are to treat all people well. For children, praying for all people everywhere is one specific way to show their love for God's worldwide family. By including verse 8 in this section, The New Jerusalem Bible suggests that we should pray especially for those with whom we have disagreements. This is a challenging discipline for worshipers of all ages.

Gospel: Luke 16:2-13. This passage includes a parable and four related teachings that are difficult both to understand and to apply to life. The parable (vss. 1-8a) describes the action and conversation of two "bad guys." Children need to be told that Jesus did not approve of what the servant did or of the master's compliment. Instead, Jesus was using their outrageous story to make four important points.

First, Christians should work as hard at doing God's work as the bad servant worked at stealing his master's money (8b).

Second, we should be generous in sharing our money and toys (9). People who share have many friends. Andhaving friends makes a person happier than having money or things.

Third, if we use our money and things well (generously), God will entrust us with even more exciting and important work (10-12). Therefore, when you learn to share your small amount of money and numerous toys as a child, you will be prepared to use wisely the larger amounts of money you will have as an adult, in order to do responsible work in God's church.

Fourth, we are not to be greedy (13). Doing God's work is much more important than what we wear or what we eat or what we want for our birthday.

Children (and many adults) will not be able to grasp any of these points from the reading of the text, but will need to hear the passage explained during the sermon.

Watch Words

Balm is often heard by children as bomb. Some children may be familiar with lip balm for chapped lips. Others may need to hear balm compared to first-aid cream.

Mammon needs to be defined as all the things money can buy. Jesus is warning us against greed.

Let the Children Sing

"O God of Every Nation" unites the themes of Jeremiah, 1 Timothy, and Luke. Although the hymn includes many abstract words, they are words that are familiar. Singing this hymn frequently in worship will help children catch the meaning of more and more of the phrases. This might be a good hymn for the whole congregation to learn together.

Especially if you sang it last week in response to the potter images, sing "Have Thine Own Way, Lord," to commit yourselves to God's disciplines.

Ask a children's class, a children's choir, or the whole congregation to sing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," in response to 1 Timothy.

The Liturgical Child

1. In the spirit of the 1 Timothy reading, take a prayer trip around the world. Pray for people of several different countries (in geographical sequence), and their needs. Print a world map in your order of worship and/or place a globe in your worship center.

2. Before the prayer of petition, give the worshipers a brief time of silence in which to identify people with whom they have problems. Then voice corporate prayers, with pauses for individual prayers:

Lord, we pray for all the people of the world. We pray for our own country (Pause), for the leaders who are our heroes, and for the elected leaders with whom we disagree. (Pause)
We pray for (several friendly nations or groups with specific needs). (Pause)
And we pray for (unfriendly countries, terrorist groups, etc.). (Pause)
We pray for people we love and love to be with in our families (Pause), at school and work (Pause), and at church. (Pause)
We even pray for those people and groups who drive us a little nuts (Pause)
Bringus all closer together. Help us to treat one another with loving respect, so that the world may indeed have peace. We pray in the name of Jesus, who loves us all, and who died that we might have life and love one another. Amen.

3. Focus prayers of confession on the different "I wants" and "I needs" that overly influence our lives.

4. Before the offering is collected, briefly connect it to the Gospel teaching about wealth:

When we are seven, it is hard to give up one of the quarters we are saving for a video game or piece of sports equipment. When we are seventeen, it is hard to give up the dollar we earned ourselves and would like to spend on ourselves. When we are thirty-seven, and fifty-seven, and seventy-seven, there are bills to pay, things we need to be saving for, and all those other things we want. It is never easy to share our money. But the Bible is clear. Sharing our money is a key part of being one of God's people. Jesus said to all of us, in all situations of life, and at all ages, "You cannot serve both God and wealth." So we invite you now to join in the discipline of sharing your wealth.

Sermon Resources

1. The Luke passage, with all its difficulties, suggests an open-Bible teaching sermon. Invite worshipers to follow along in pew Bibles, or have the text printed in the order of worship. Work through the parable and the four points, explaining the meaning of each one, and illustrate them with examples from childhood and adulthood. (If the text is printed in the order of worship, suggest that people underline key words and write [or draw] notes in the margins.)

2. If you focus on the use of money, remember that children also spend and save money. They have allowances, gift money, and wages from small jobs. They need to be encouraged to begin at an early age to contribute some of their own funds to the work of the church. The well-intentioned parental practice of providing all the money children contribute to the church deprives them of the joy of sending their very own money to buy a bicycle for a missionary or to pay for the new organ.

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