Children’s Sermon – 7th Sunday after Epiphany – Matthew 5:38-48

Prepare: The only thing you need is someone who is willing to let you hold their arms down.  It could be a child, youth or adult, but they need to be willing to play along (and not freaked out by having their arms held down!),

 Invite the children to gather as you normally do, but once they are all there make a grumpy face.  Kind of go back and forth between normal and grumpy a few times and see if you can get one of the kids to ask what you are doing.

 Yeah . . . I’m practicing my grumpy face.  See, I was reading the Gospel today and Jesus is talking about how we should love our enemies.  Jesus actually says that we should love people who  want to be mean to us and it made me grumpy!  Then I noticed something a little strange, my face got really tired of being grumpy.  I took a lot of effort to stay grumpy, like way more work than just being happy and content with the world.  But here’s the worst part – after I worked on being grumpy for a while, I noticed that it got easier.  So I started thinking about being grumpy, and it’s a lot of work to being with – harder than being happy or loving, but if you work at if for a while it gets easy and might even be a habit!

Let me show you what I mean, I need a volunteer (this would be where you need to have someone who’s arms you can hold down.  Alternatively, you could have the person use a door frame or even just the wall if that is a better option for you.) OK, this person here is going to work really, really hard at lifting her arms up to the side, and I am going to hold her arms in place.  (Hold the volunteers arms to their sides, or have them push out on a door frame).  Push really hard!  We are going to work at this for about 30 seconds.  Then, when I say so, I want you to just let your arms hang at your side. (If they do this right, their arms will *float* up away from their side because the muscles are now used to pushing out and up!)

See, first she tried really hard, and now it’s just a habit for her muscles to want to lift her arms!  So, if you practice being grumpy, like I was doing, eventually that is just what you act like all the time!  Jesus wants us to love our enemies because all people deserve love, even if we don’t like them.  And if we work hard at being loving then that becomes a habit, too!

 Jesus loves you even when you feel grumpy!

 Good and loving God, we know that we are called to love everyone, but it just so hard! Fill us with your love and give us the strength to share that love even with people who are hard to love. Amen

 For the worship station, simply invite people to repeat the arm experiment for themselves.  Give a little space for people to talk, reflect and giggle at the silly ways our bodies do things.

Children’s Sermon, 4th Sunday after Epiphany – Matthew 5:1-12

Prepare: You really don’t need anything for the children’s sermon, but if you want to have something (I find it works better to have something to show), find something that says “hope” on it.

 As the children gather, invite them to talk about what they hope for.  Give them a little time to think, and a little space to enjoy being hopeful.

  Those are fun things to hope for!  I wanted to think about hope today because I hear “hope” in the Gospel today.  The Gospel story that we hear today is often called the Beatitudes.  There are whole books written about this little story in the Bible. People wondering who Jesus was talking about and why.  People wanting to point out who is on each side of the sayings – these people are poor, so Jesus must be talking about them.  Or, when I’m sad I know that I am one who is mourning.

I hear many of those things in this story, too! But I also hear a message of hope.  At different times in my life I think that I have been on both sides of all of these sayings.  I have been merciful, but I have been mean, too.  I have been poor, and I’ve had more than I needed. I have been happy and sad.  I have been put down because of what I believe, and I have put others down for what they believe. When I think about it like that I start to see this a little differently.

No matter who you are, no matter what is going on, there is always room for hope.  Hope doesn’t always mean that you are going to get what you want – hope is more like a sparkling of something that keeps you going. Jesus gives us hope that when we feel like we are at the bottom – under a pile of worry and sadness, we can still rise up out of it.

 God of hope, be with us when everything seems to be going wrong. Give us hope to see a better way forward.  Joyful God, be with us when everything seems to be going right and help us remember your love for the times when we need hope the most. Amen.

 Jesus loves you in the good times and in the bad times.

  What do you really hope for?  Ask the congregation this question and offer a chance to put into prayer.  One way to do this is to have paper handy for everyone, invite them to write their hopes on the paper, then collect it and read it as part of the prayers of the church.

You could also form prayer circles if you have room and time!  Have people gather in groups of 4 to 8 (no more than that!) and offer hopes within the small group.

Children’s Sermon — God’s People Caught in Light and Love Matthew 4:12-23

Gather the children with you. If you can get a big net or even a small one as a visual that is good. If not, it’s ok to to just describe it. Ask the children if they have ever seen a big fishing net? How many fish do you think it can catch? Some big fishing boats can get 100,000 fish a day! What kind of fish do you think they catch? Yes they may be trying to get a certain kind of fish but when they put out the net and scoop it up, they will catch whatever kind of fish are together in that area.

In today’s story, Jesus is calling his disciples, so inviting specific people to follow him and help him share about and tell God’s love to all the people. He goes out to towns and areas where people who do not know about God are told that they too are a part of God’s children and a part of God’s love. So Jesus wants to catch all kinds of people to hear about God. So I was looking around at everyone here up front and you have something the same–you are all kids! Wonderful children of God! Now look behind you, is everyone out there a kid? No! Are they all the same age? Look around the whole room, are we all exactly the same kind of person? No! But does God want to catch us all? Yes, God wants us all to be caught up in God’s love. So let’s see how can we show that together? Let’s invite some volunteers who are not kids to come up here and join us around (or in) our net! (It can be a good idea to plant some people who would be willing to come up at this point). Will any of you who are retired come up front and join us? Will any of you who are grandparents? Parents? Young adults? Teenagers? Gather a few people to come join the kids.

OR if you cannot get people to come out or think your group will not go for that. Have the kids stand up and hold hands and then connect them to adults sitting in the pews by holding hands and ask everyone to hold hands for the prayer showing we are all a part of who God loves.

Jesus who fishes for people! Thank you for catching us in your love. Help us live in this love and share it with others. Amen

 

You are caught and held in God’s love all the time +

 

 

Have fish shaped paper for people to write prayers or thanksgiving for a person or an area that is not like them but that God loves.

Let us walk with you on the journey of faith. Whether your feet are big or small, fresh or worn, running or crawling, God's love goes with you and you stand on holy ground.