Have the children come forward and stay standing up for this time. Say “Look around our worship space. What do you see?” (Accept all answers.) “Yes, we see people, the piano/organ, the font, the table, bread, wine, water, pews, carpet, etc. We see all kinds of things in here that tell a story! What story do you think that all of these things and people tell? They tell the story of God’s love. They are telling us to remember to look around to look for love, which is always a sign of Jesus in our world. Do you ever see things in your day or on tv that scare you? Yes, I do too. But I remember to look for signs of love around me when I feel scared.
In our Bible story today, Jesus says that we will see things in the world that we won’t understand or might even scare us. But he says “stand up! Look for signs of love and hope!” Jesus tells us that when it seems that things are scary or sad, that he is with us forever. Nothing can make Jesus go away. He also says that there is something that we can do to help us to look for signs of God’s love and new life everywhere we go: pray. Praying is not just about asking God for what we need or a friend needs but is also about just talking to God and listening for where God might be telling us to look for signs of love. Sometimes we say words when we pray and sometimes we can be silent when we pray. Doesn’t matter what kind of prayer you say or do, all prayer connects us to God and helps us to see signs of God’s love in the world. Let’s practice that now.
(Start by saying “Dear God” and then telling the children that we will be quiet for a minute.) Dear God, (silence is kept) we see things that we don’t understand. Open our eyes to see more of your love, more of your hope and more of your grace. May we stand up to be signs of your love in the world. Amen.
Have someone draw a tree on butcher paper or use a large plant or indoor tree that you may have in your church. Have leaves cut out for people to write signs of God’s love and new life to tape on the paper tree or have string to hang the leaves on the real plant/tree. Invite people to take their leaves home to place on their Christmas tree.
+ Jesus is near+
Have a piece of rope or twine that you can lay on the ground (you will want lots of it as it will be a moving “path”). Have the children stand next to the rope on the ground. Explain that this will be our path for our time together. We will follow the rope as it moves around our worship space. Start moving the rope and have the children walk toward the baptismal font. Stop them there. Say, “When we bring a baby or a person to the font we are declaring God’s promises of love and grace. We say that God promises to make us new each and every day. We promise to teach each other about God and God’s love. We light a candle to remind us that Jesus lights our path in life.” (Light a candle to take with the group.) Say, “Let’s take this candle with us.”
Move the rope path to the table. Say, “When we gather for communion we know that Jesus promised to be with us forever and forgives all of the things that we do that hurt each other. We know that Jesus rescued us from ever being apart from God ever again. Let’s keep going.” Move the rope to the pulpit or to where there is a Bible (even on a chair or “staged” is fine). Have the children sit down and give another adult (preferably one that will sit with you and the children) the candle.
Pick up the Bible and say, “One of the stories that we read in the Bible today about a man named Zechariah. After being silent for nearly nine months he spoke. And when he spoke, he told the people how God will lead us on our path, send Jesus to be our light and will forgive our sins and show us love forever. We are in the church season of Advent-where we focus on how God will always give us what we need to be with God forever. God sent Jesus to be on the path with us and we have each other to tell each other about God’s love every day! This is a path that we can invite all people to be on because it’s a path of love, mercy, forgiveness and hope. This is the path to peace and love with all people! God invites all people to God’s path!
If you have a portable labyrinth, have that available in a space. In a basket at the entrance, have a piece of paper with the words: peace and light written on it for people to meditate on as they walk the labyrinth. In the center have a tea light candle for them to pick up. Have a table where they can place their candle and light it. If you do not have a labyrinth, on a large table have some sort of “path” (either drawn on butcher paper, or made from sand, rocks, or whatever your creativity brings forth!) where people can place a candle and light it. Have the pieces of paper shaped as a heart with the words: peace and light written on them for meditation and prayer.
God of light, you guide our feet on the path. We will follow Jesus and walk the way of peace for all of creation. In Jesus name, the light of the world, amen.
+Walk in the Light of Jesus+