Worship for Kids: November 17, 2019

September 25th, 2019

From a Child's Point of View

Three of today's texts deal with the day of the Lord or the second coming. Because children live so much in the present, promises of what will be "one day" have little power. But the convictions that underlie the promises are important for their sense of security. The fact that God will be there and in charge at the end of the world as at the beginning, assures children that they can rely on God's power at all times. The promise that God's final plans are happy ones reflects God's creation evaluation of the world, "that's good," and leads children to expect the world to be basically good.

Old Testament: Isaiah 65:17-25. Children have trouble with the detailed poetic images with which Isaiah states God's promises. The Good News Bible helps by translating some of these images into direct statesments. For example, in verse 20, "No more shall there be . . . an old person who does not live out a lifetime, "translates as: "All people will live out their life span." Because of their lack of experience, children need help understanding the images about getting to enjoy what you worked for (vss. 21-22a). The promises that deal with their keenest hopes are those about no more tears and more danger from enemies ("wolf and lamb shall feed together").

When 21-22a are linked with Paul's insistence that everyone must work (the Epistle), children respond to their fairness. They like the idea that those who build houses will get to live in them and those who plant gardens will get to eat the food that grows in them. They enjoy paraphrasing the promise that reflects their own work—for example, those who clean the house for the party will get to attend.

Psalm: Isaiah 12. If they have been hearing the exile saga this fall, and if the sweep of those events is reviewed before the reading, older children can understand this as a prayer of God's people looking back over their experiences. They hear in it the response of people who have learned their lesson. If they have not focused on Exile, they simply hear occasional phrases expressing confidence in God's loving protection.

Gospel: Luke 21:5-19. This is Jesus' answer to the question, "When will the `the end' come?" In recent years there has been an increase in people predicting the "end of time" or the "second coming." As the year 2000 approaches, there probably will be more. Children need to be prepared for these well-publicized announcements, and this passage is good preparation. Jesus says plainly that no one knows when God will act. Anyone who sets the date is to be ignored.

Jesus also forewarns his disciples (and us) that there will be times when being a Christian will get us into trouble. In those situations, we are to be strong, knowing that God is with us and will help us. Persecution, whether it be teasing or imprisonment, is part of being a follower of Jesus in a selfish world.

Epistle: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. This is a very practical teaching about life in the church. Everyone, of every age, is to be a contributing member. For children, who are unable to earn their own money, the message is that they are to take part in the work at home and at church and in the community. They are to do their part of the chores, and they are to watch for other things that need to be done and do them. That is one of the responsibilities of being a member of God' family. Understanding this passage is not nearly as difficult as disciplining ourselves (no matter what our age) to do the work.

Watch Words

Remember that children take apocalyptic language literally, unless you help them do otherwise. If you frequently use terms such as second coming, day of the Lord, or end of time in this service, be sure to tell children what the term(s) mean to you in your tradition.

To understand salvation, children need several everyday examples of things that are saved: a drowning person, a dog or cat from the pound, or (in this day of recycling) an item from the garbage heap being turned into something useful (maybe an empty can decorated to hold pencils).

Let the Children Sing

Sing "Rejoice, the Lord Is King" to celebrate God's lordship over all history. The repeated chorus makes it child-accessible. (Yes, boys will grin as they sing of every bosom swelling with joy.)

Sing "Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated" to commit your whole bodies to doing God's work.

The Liturgical Child

1. Read Isaiah 12 as a responsive call to worship, with a worship leader reading the instructions in verses 1a and 3-4a and the congregation reading verses 1b-2, and 4b-6.

2. Adapt the litany prayer below to fit the work done in your congregation. The congregational response to each prayer: "Lord, help each of us see our share of the work and do it."

There's so much to do, Lord, just to keep our building clean! There are dishes to wash after every supper, and sidewalks to sweep, and grass to mow and rake, and garbage to empty. (RESPONSE)
And who will keep the furnace working, fold the bulletins each week, buy candles for the sanctuary, and remember to order the church school books? (RESPONSE
And then there are the demanding jobs, God. We need church school teachers who will spend time preparing and leading lessons every week. We need people who will see needs in the community and lead us out to meet them. We need people to make sure our money is spent wisely to do your work. (RESPONSE)
We need people who will spend a snowy day delivering Meals-on-Wheels, or walk all ten miles of the CROP Walk, or be a Bible school helper. (Name mission projects in which your children work.) (RESPONSE)
And God, we need alert people who quietly do the little things. We need people who will drive an older member to the doctor's office, babysitters who refuse to charge for church meetings, children who are leaders among younger children on the law after church. (RESPONSE)
Lord, there's so much to be done. It will take all of us working together to get the work done. Be with us as we work. Help us to work wisely and efficiently. And let us know your peace and happiness in all we do; for we work and pray in your name. Amen.

Sermon Resources

1. If you talk about the importance of work, describe the jobs children can do at home, at church, and in the community. Be specific. If you cannot identify some jobs that are more than busywork, put the congregation to work identifying and instituting some.

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