Gather the children by the entrance to the worship space. Have them cross the threshold so that you are in the worship space but technically they are not. Have them just stand there for 30 seconds or so. It will seem a lot longer to them! Then ask them if they would like to come in and be with everyone else. Hopefully they will say yes! Ask them why? Say, “Why do you want to come in and be a part of this group?” Accept all answers! (This is dicey, I know!) Say, “We want you to belong here too! We want everyone to be a part of God’s family.”
In our Bible story this morning, Jesus tells the disciples that whoever welcomes them welcomes Jesus! And Jesus is God’s son, so welcoming Jesus is the same as welcoming God! If God were standing right here with us at the door to our church, how would we welcome God in?” Accept all answers and try to push them to extravagant welcome. Hugs, music, food, whatever they might have to make God comfortable and feeling loved. Say, “If someone comes to our house, to our church how should we treat them? Now this is not just about someone coming to our house or church but it’s about how we greet people when we walk in our classrooms at school, or your parents go to their work places. It’s about how when we see someone who needs help or is trying to help how we treat them. If God were to walk in right now and we would sing songs, give God a hug, give God only the best food and drinks, the most comfortable spot on the couch, and everyone we welcome Jesus says, is like welcoming God, how should we treat a new kid in our class or in our neighborhood? How does it feel when someone treats us this nice? Does God want everyone in the whole world to feel this loved? YES! God’s love for us never runs out or gets tired or ends. This is the way that God wants us to love each other. There is always enough love for everyone! ”
Have the kids come back into the worship space. Ask all of the adults on the aisles to greet the kids like they would God. You can suggest high fives, side hugs, (be aware of your safety policies with children), you can give adults notes to hand out ahead of time, confetti, ribbons, etc. Lead the children to the front or a central location to close in prayer.
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us how to care for everyone we meet. We pray for everyone to feel loved and to have all that they need to be healthy and whole.Help us to live our lives overflowing with your love. We pray to be a part of your love and forgiveness in the world. Amen.
At the end of worship have people turn to one another and make the sign of the cross and say, “You are welcomed in the name of the Lord.” Suggest that they use this blessing at home and with friends.
For a worship station on this text, there are a couple of ways that you can communicate the abundance and overflowing nature of God’s hospitality towards us. One way is to have a table set up with lots of billowing fabric that overflows the table. Have a light blue to represent grace, white for mercy, and dark pink or red for love. Ask people to write (permanent markers will work the best) how they experience God’s overflowing abundance of grace, mercy and love and ask them to also write how they can spill that out onto others in their lives. Another way is to have strips of blue fabric that people can write about grace, mercy and love in their lives as explained above. But have them but their cloth in the baptismal font (empty the water for this) and hopefully all of the strips will overflow and spill out of the font! In the water, bread and wine we tangibly experience God’s abundance of love, mercy and forgiveness overflowing in our lives! You could have the strips of cloth put on your altar as well. for communion.