Worship for Kids: November 20, 2022

April 7th, 2022

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Jeremiah 23:1-6. On Christ the King Sunday, the key to this text is Jeremiah's comparison of the nation's king and its leaders to shepherds. According to Jeremiah, the job of a king (or any leader) is to take care of the people, just as a shepherd takes care of the sheep. Children need to hear specifically how their current leaders had not been good shepherds, how God's king would care for the people, and how Jesus acted like a shepherd king.

Psalm: Luke 1:68-79. This is a hard passage for children to figure out on Christ the King Sunday. During Advent, they can focus on its story setting and share Zechariah's excitement at the birth of his special son. But today it is a subtle introduction to Jesus. Zechariah's message that one job of God's king is to forgive people (vss. 76-69) must be restated in direct language for the children. It is an important point for them to understand. In many stories about kings, the king is the one who demands obedience and gets even with those who do not obey. God's king is different. God's king forgives.

Gospel: Luke 23:33-43. Children easily follow this concise story of the crucifixion. They enjoy exploring the truth that only a thief (the one we would least expect) understood what the leaders and soldiers missed: that the real King does not save himself, but suffers to save others. The thief saw Jesus forgiving, and he declared himself Jesus' loyal subject by asking for his forgiveness. To be the King is to forgive. To be the subject of the King is to be forgiven.

Epistle: Colossians 1:11-20. This passage is a description of Christ, the cosmic ruler. Verses 15-20 are a hymn rich in poetic images that are totally foreign to children. One approach is to suggest that they not try to understand, but feel the majesty of Christ in these fancy words. (If you do this, provide a majestic reading in which the poetic words and phrases are given their full dramatic impact.) A second approach is to encourage children to listen hard for short phrases they do understand. Most will recognize several of the short phrases describing Christ.

Verses 11-14 come before the poem in Colossians, but they may make more sense to children after they have heard and reflected on the poem. These verses focus attention not on Christ the King, but on us, Christ's subjects. It is a wish (or prayer) that we, who are fortunate to be the subjects of such a king, be given the power to serve our king well and faithfully.

Watch Words

Christ is another name for Jesus. Often we use Jesus when telling stories about Jesus' life on earth, and Christ when we talk about Christ as the Lord of the whole universe. (This might be a good time to clear up the common childhood misconception that Christ is Jesus' last name.)

Speak of Christ as King today, rather than as the Messiah.

Let the Children Sing

Many great hymns praise Christ the King: "Rejoice, the Lord Is King," "When Morning Gilds the Skies," "From All That Dwell Below the Skies," and "Come, Christians, Join to Sing." These have repeated choruses or phrases that make them easy for nonreaders. "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing" is a less familiar hymn, but one with simple language for middle-elementary readers.

"The King of Love My Shepherd Is" (and most other shepherd hymns) may seem a natural choice for these texts. Children, however, get little farther than the first verse. The other verses are filled with abstract images and obsolete language.

Many people who know the spiritual "Do, Lord, Remember Me" do not realize that it quotes the repentant thief. Point this out before hearing it sung by a children's choir or singing it as a pledge to be subjects of King Jesus.

The Liturgical Child

1. Read the Colossian hymn (vss. 15-20) twice. First, read it from the translation of your choice. Invite worshipers to feel the richness of the big words that praise Christ the King. Then have a group of children read the following sentences, which put the praises into simple language. Each phrase is read by one child; three or more children may take turns.

When we see Christ, we are seeing God also.
Through Christ, God created everything in
heaven and on earth.
Through Christ, God created everything visible
and invisible.
Before anything else was created, Christ was
Christ holds all the world in his hands.
The church is Christ's Body, and Christ is the
head of this Body.
Christ was the first to rise from the dead.
Christ is first in every way.
Christ was God, living among us as a person.
Through Christ, all of us can be God's friends.
Christ brought peace to the whole universe by his
death on the cross.

2. The Lord's Prayer is a prayer of the loyal subjects of a loving king. Point out the "king" phrases: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" and "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." To emphasize the relationship of God's kingship to each of the prayer requests, pray the prayer responsively or in unison, repeating "Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory" after each phrase.

3. Paraphrase Colossians 1:11-14 for the Charge and Benediction:

Go forth with all the power of Christ the King to serve loyally and patiently wherever you are. Give thanks to God, who has called you to be among the King's people, has sent Christ to save you, and has forgiven you. And remember, Christ the King will be with you forever. You have his promise. Amen.

Sermon Resources

1. Christ the King Sunday is also the last day of the liturgical year. To celebrate Christ and review the year, drape the pulpit with a rainbow of paraments. Refer to each color as you use the seasons as an outline for exploring the Kingship of Christ.

2. Display two crowns on the pulpit or in the worship center—one a kingly crown (perhaps a wise man's crown can be found among the Christmas pageant costumes); the other, a crown of thorns. Compare the kings who would wear each crown. Then describe what would be required of followers of the king who wears a crown of thorns.

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