Worship for Kids: October 6, 2019

August 21st, 2019

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 3:19-26 (the suggested psalm). When children hear these poems read dramatically and are told that they were written by people whose hometown, Jerusalem, had been destroyed in war and that they had been forcibly moved to the conqueror's country, they emphatize with the feelings expressed and are impressed by the quiet confidence of chapter 3. The New Jerusalem Bible offers children the most straightforward translation of the many poetic images.

Psalm: 137 (the alternate psalm). With some adult help, children understand the realities and feings expressed in verses 1-6. They are, however, even more offended than adults by the wishes that someone would smash their captors' babies against rocks. Teenagers and adults can understand being hurt and angry enough to wish something that awful. Children, unless they have personally experienced war or witnessed physical violence against their own family, want to tell those angry people to be nicer. So for the children, it may be better to read only the first six verses of this psalm or the first-choice Lamentations poem.

Epistle: 2 Timothy 1:1-14. This passage contains encouragement from an older preacher to a young man who is overly cautious about doing God's work. If invited to "read over Timothy's shoulder," children can hear Paul call them to use the gifts (talents, personal qualities, leadership positions among other children) which God gave them. They are to be brave and courageous in standing up for God's ways. They are to be willing to be teased or bullied for doing God's work. And while doing this, they are to remember that God loves and cares for them.

Gospel: Luke 17:5-10. This passage includes two separate teachings. The first is not to underestimate what we can do. Children often feel they can do nothing that will make a very big difference. They also feel overwhelmed when trying to do what is asked of them. Jesus claims that if they act faithfully, they will e surprised at what they can do.

The second teaching is that doing God's work (being fair and generous) is not something for which we should expect much attention and thanks. It is simply our job, as God's people.

Watch Words

Lamentations is a plural form of lament. A lament is a sad poem or song. Many modern love songs, especially in country music, are laments about a boy or girlfriend who has left the singer for another person.

Disciple is a word/idea behind today's New Testament texts. A disciple is a person who does what Jesus taught.

Faith (like a mustard seed) does not require special knowledge, nor is it a magic possession. Faith is being willing to do God's will (even when you are not sure how it will work out).

Let the Children Sing

Hymns for Worldwide Communion Sunday: "Blest Be the Tie That Binds" (hold hands while singing); "In Christ There Is No East or West" (see esp. verse 2); and "I Come with Joy" (communion celebrated with simple language as a meal focused on the unity and friendship Christ brings.)

Share the confidence of the Lamentations poets: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (repeated chorus for young readers); or "Morning Has Broken" (based on Lam. 3:22-23).

Sing Hymns of Discipleship: "They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love"; "Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated"; "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God"; "Lord, You Give the Great Commission" (see Sermon Resources); "God of Grace and God of Glory" (words in the verses are hard, but children can sing the repeated chorus if alerted to it); "Let There Be Peace on Earth" (especially if it is Worldwide Communion Sunday).

The Liturgical Child

1. Present the Lamentations texts in their acrostic format. (The New Jerusalem Bible preserves the format most clearly.) Select one reader for each letter's verse, including readers of different ages. As the liturgist introduces the Lamentations collection of sad alphabet psalms, written after Jerusalem was destroyed and her people carried off to live in Babylon, the readers walk slowly and sadly to the chancel and position themselves as would a group of exiles at the end of a hard day. Readers freeze in position, moving only when the liturgist calls their letter and they step out to recite their verse with great feeling. The readers may wear simple biblical tunics, or matching clothes such as jeans and white shirts. (Consider combining the two Lamentations readings into one continuous presentation.)

2. Children respond well to "On the Willows," the sung version of Psalm 139:1-4 from the musical Godspell. The emotions behind the psalm shine through in the music. 

3. Base the charge and benediction on the 2 Timothy exhortations:

Just as Paul encouraged Timothy, so I encourage you to use the gifts God has given you—not cautiously, but with courage and power and self-control. Do not be shy about standing up for God's ways. Be ready to suffer for doing God's work. And remember that God loves you, has given each of you important work to do, and is with you always. Amen.

Sermon Resources

1. Paraphrase 2 Timothy for children as follows;

From Paul, an older preacher, to Timothy, whom I love very much, and whom God loves: I thank God for you every day. I remember everything we did together and look forward to being with you again. I remember how much you love God, just as your mother and grandmother loved God. Because I remember all this, I also remind you that you have a job to do. God has given you the gifts to be a fine leader, and the church has elected you to be its leader. So do not give up. God does not want you to be too cautious about using your gifts. Instead, God fills you with power, and love, and self-control. So use those gifts! Do not be ashamed to stand up for God's ways. If people tease you, call you names, or even push you around, you can take it. Look at me—I am in prison for doing God's work, but I do not mind. I know God will take care of me, even in prison, and I know that God will take care of you. So remember everything you have learned about God's love and plan for the world. Follow my brave example. And most of all, remember that God's Holy Spirit lives in you and gives you power to do amazing work for God.

2. Use the new hymn, "Lord, You Give the Great Commission," as an outline for a discipleship sermon. Suggest that worshippers keep their hymnals open so that you can refer to specific phrases. The verses are an interesting combination of abstract and very everyday vocabulary. Consider rehearsing the chorus so that children can join in easily as the hymn is sung following the sermon.

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