Worship for Kids: August 4, 2019

April 13th, 2019

From a Child's Point of View

Old Testament: Hosea 11:1-11. This passage compares God's relationship with the people to that of a parent with a disobedient child. If this is explained before the reading, and if the passage is read from The New Jerusalem Bible or the Good News Bible, children will catch the meaning of a few image-filled phrases. Hosea's message is that although the people deserve to be destroyed because of the way they have acted, God has chosen instead to discipline them in order to help them come back to God. God's wish is that those people would realize how much God loves them and would learn to depend upon and love God in return. And God wants the same for us.

Psalm: 107:1-9, 43. This is the first section of a psalm whose format is interesting to children. It is a song for pilgrims to sing as they walk together toward Jerusalem (not unlike the songs we sing to pass the time on long car trips). Verses 1-3 are the introduction and are followed by sections that describe how God save people in different kinds of trouble: those lost in the desert (4-9); prisoners (10-16); the sick (17-22); sailors in storms (23-32). Each section describes the distress of one group, explains how God saves them, and then calls on those people to praise and thank God (e.g., those who are lost in the desert are thirsty and hungry; they cry to God for help and are led by God to cities; for this they are called on to thank God). The fact that such a psalm is included in the Bible and the possibility that other verses could be made up about people whose needs are met by God are more stimulating for children than the content of the biblical verses.

Epistle: Colossians 3:1-11. This passage says to children that there is a difference between Christians and non-Christians. Christians know that God loves them because they know that Christ died for them. They also know that enjoying and sharing God's love is the most important thing in the world, and knowing this makes them act in certain ways. The most significant items for children on Paul's list of "un-Christian" activities are being greedy (note connection to Luke text), hurting others when we are angry, hating, insulting people (calling cruel names), using obscene language, and telling lies. Because of the complex sentences and difficult language, this message needs to be presented during the sermon in words the children can understand.

Gospel: Luke 12:13-21. This passage speaks as directly to materialistic children as it does to their elders. They might prefer to store Nintendo games, bicycles, dolls, and sports equipment in their barns, but they know that when they hoard things for themselves, they are acting just like the farmer in the parable. They also know that when they become obsessed with wanting some new toy or designer shirt, they are on the wrong track. Jesus' message to them is that all the things we think we must have are not really important.

Watch Words

Before reading Hosea 11 , explain that Israel and Ephraim are names for God's people. Also, use discipline, instead of punishment, to emphasize the corrective nature of God's action.

Inheritance needs to be defined as property and money left after a person dies.

Let the Children Sing

To celebrate the centrality of Christ, sing "Come, Christians, Join to Sing" with all its Alleluias, or "Fairest Lord Jesus," which, though it includes some abstract symbols, also includes many concrete nature images.

For your commitment to live disciplined lives, sing "Be Thou My Vision" (if the children sing it in other church settings) or "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian."

"Have Thine Own Way, Lord," if familiar, is a hymn through which children can commit themselves to God's discipline.

Celebrate the saving God of Psalm 107 by singing "Now Thank We All Our God."

The Liturgical Child

1. Read Luke with great dramatic inflection. Take the part of each speaker by changing your tone of voice and expression, and by the use of your hands and body. As you read the parable, remember that Jesus was known as a great storyteller for his delivery, as well as his content. Let the words of the barn-building fool swagger. Decide what God's tone will be in speaking to the man. Use your hands for emphasis. Eye the congregation as Jesus would have, as he made his final point in verse 21.

2. Use Colossians 3:1-11 as the base for confession and pardon:

Leader: Let us confess our sins to one another and to God.
People: Lord, we say we belong to Jesus, but we do not live as if we do.
Leader: We become so wrapped up in getting what we want that we will bend, or even break rules to get our way.
People: Lord, we say we belong to Jesus, but we do not live as if we do.
Leader: And we want so much! We see clothes, houses, cars, and all kinds of toys that we feel we must have in order to be happy.
People: Lord, we say we belong to Jesus, but we do not live as if we do.
Leader: Our feelings often rule us. When we are angry, we hurt others. We give in to hating people we do not like.
People: Lord, we say we belong to Jesus, but we do not live as if we do.
Leader: Our mouths show us at our worst. We stoop to name-calling, foul language, and lies. Even we cannot believe what sometimes comes out of our mouths.
People: Lord, we say we belong to Jesus, but we do not live as if we do.
Leader: But God has not left us to live with our own failures and sin. God loves us. Jesus died for us. In Jesus, we are forgiven and become new people. God is constantly at work, remaking us. So let's overcome our greed.
People: Let us set our hearts on living like Christ.
Leader:Let's learn to control our anger and set aside personal and community hatreds.
People: Let us set our hearts on living like Christ.
Leader: Let's speak kind words, offer compliments and encouragement to others, and tell the truth in all situations.
People: Let us set our hearts on living like Christ.
All: Amen.

Sermon Resources

1. Retell the parable of the barn-building fool, describing the acquisitive habits of a fictional family in your community. Describe both the items each member of the family thought he or she needed, and why it was so important to have those items. Walk through a hectic weekend spent shopping for and taking care of all the things the family owned. After sending the exhausted family to be, ask the congregation to ponder what those people might have done differently, had they known that a tornado would destroy them and everything they had that night. This leads to questions about whether the family would have been better off if it had lived by that alternate plan anyway.

2. Describe "gotta haves" with which people of all ages become obsessed, and tell how those things affect us. Describe "gotta haves" which we really do not use once we have them, "gotta haves" that turn out to be bad for us (like a computer game that becomes the sole interest in our life), and "gotta haves" we enjoy but really could do without. Talk about how we, as Christians, manage the "gotta haves" in our lives.

3. Provide modern examples of discipline which, like God's discipline of Israel, are aimed at teaching important lessons. For example, tell the story of a child whose parents insisted that she earn the money to buy another bicycle when hers was stolen because she had left it in the front yard (after repeated warnings.)

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