Prepare: Ideally this works best as a little skit. You can set up something with another worship leader, or with one of the children. You can also try to just set it up to happen as you go! The idea is that the other person takes something from you and walks away. It can be almost anything, your cup of coffee, a pencil, your Bible, anything! You can work out what the goal of them taking it was – it could be because they don’t have a Bible, or that they needed something to write with, or that they were just trying to have fun and didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. You decide.
Set your skit in motion as the children gather! Have the other person in the skit walk up to you and take whatever they were set up to take from you. Say something like, “Hey! What are you doing? That’s mine!” They should respond with something typically bully-ish, like, “Well it’s mine now!”
OK – wait a minute . . . I read something about this very situation in the Bible! Even though they just took something from me I should treat them with love. I think it’s today’s Gospel reading! Let me look . . . yes, Jesus says that we should love our enemies, we should treat other people as we would want them to treat us. Ok, that’s super not easy in this case. I need that back and they were just really mean to me. I don’t want to be loving! And I would never just walk up and grab something from someone, so why should I have to be nice back?
I have a hard time with this, too. Jesus is asking a lot of us. It’s hard to be loving when we don’t feel loved in return. It’s hard to be caring when we are afraid we will be hurt. It’s hard to give up the things that we like and care about because someone else might need them more.
And it gets even harder! Being loving and caring doesn’t mean you should put yourself in danger of getting hurt, and it doesn’t mean that you should just let people take anything they want from you. Because when you think about how you would want to be treated, you would probably want to know if what you did hurt someone else’s feelings, right?
This is one of those really hard stories from Jesus. It was difficult for the disciples to understand, and it’s still difficult for us!
So (turn to the person who took you stuff), I don’t think that you really wanted to be mean to me. Is there some reason that you took that? Is there something that you need?
(let the story play out the way you decided when you set it up)
Loving God, you give us some many good things, and so often we forget that the people around us are part of those good things! Teach us to be loving, especially to the people who are the hardest to love. Amen.
God Loves you no matter what!
Make a “ways to be loving” list. Even better if this is part of a congregational idea to think about being loving as a church in the community. Ask people for ideas about how to care for the neighborhood, or for a park, or for the people in your town, etc.
Prepare: Bring a small simple snack that the kids can eat. Like Goldfish crackers, or rice crackers. Nothing big or fancy!
As the children gather ask a few of them what the best part of last week was (know that this will take some time!). Then ask a few of them what was really hard about last week (again, this will take some time!). If you need it to be shorter you can volunteer your own best and worst for the week, or make something up that leads in that direction.
Most weeks, and even most days have good things and bad things, or highs and lows, or, to use the words from the Gospel today, blessings and woes.
I was thinking about what Jesus was saying and I was a little confused about it. (if you have already read the story you can just remind them, if you haven’t already heard it, read at least the blessings and woes now.)
What does that even mean? If I’m hungry I’m blessed? If I’m full then woe to me? That seems really backwards, doesn’t it? Let’s look at this a different way. OK, I’m going to give about half of you a cracker, so let’s divide the group in half. You guys get a cracker! You can eat it right now! The rest of you don’t get one. But you will get one later, ok?
Alright, now about half of you have had a cracker – woe to you! You don’t get another cracker! But you over here haven’t had one yet, but one is coming! You are blessed! Now does it make more sense what Jesus is saying? Sometimes having everything you think you want doesn’t make things better, but know that good things are still coming can make things better!
Giving and gracious God, we thank you for all the things that we have and all the things that you give. Help us learn to be content and happy with the things that we have. Help us to learn how to share the good things we have with those who need it. Amen.
God loves you and know your needs.
For the worship station invite your congregation to pray for each other! Create a “Blessings” station and a “Woes” station that are facing each other. People who are feeling blessed go to the “blessing” station to pray for the people who are at the woe station. No one has to say anything about what their blessings or woes are, just be present where they need to be!
And they can switch! Go to both stations!
Prepare: For the children’s sermon you will need some type of need some type of fishing gear. It can be as simple as as toy fishing rod, or it you can go crazy with all kinds of fun things!
For the worship station you will need a large glass bowl, pencils or pens, and enough slips of paper for the whole worshiping assembly. The ideal thing would be paper fish, or even paper with fish on them. But just blank paper will do, too.
Set up your fishing gear as the children gather up for the children’s sermon. Make a little show of going through your stuff. Even better if you can get them to ask you some questions about what you are doing, but if they do not ask – prompt them!
What am I doing? I’m going fishing! I was reading the story from Luke that we hear today and I got so excited! Jesus is telling people to go fishing! So I thought that I would get my gear ready, because Jesus said to go fishing. And if Jesus says to do it, it must be a good idea!
. . . the only thing is, I’m not sure that I read the whole story. I got to the part where Jesus tells his disciples to throw the nets out in the deep water and when they do it there are so many fish that the boats start to sink! I figured that since I follow Jesus I could probably just ask Jesus to get me a good catch of fish, too!
. . . But the more I think about the more I think that I should read the end of the story. Hmmm, let’s take a look here. (read the story a little), yep, lots of fish, boats sinking, disciples amazed and a little scared . . . wait, fish for people? How do you fish for people! This story isn’t about going fishing at all! It’s about tell the story of Jesus! After this one there are stories about Jesus and the Disciples traveling all over the place spreading good news and healing people. I like fish, but getting to tell people about God’s love is really great! And I don’t need all this stuff with me, I can just go tell the good news.
I’m really glad I read the end of that, now will you pray with me?
Good and wonderful God, we thank you for the abundance on this beautiful planet that you have created. Help us to serve you and help others through all the good things you have made. Send us out with joy to those who are hungry or cold, sad or worried, to bring them comfort and good news.
God loves and cares for you!
Ask the congregation what they fish for! Do they fish for compliments, for help, for love, for food? Offer each person the chance to write down what they fish for in the world and write it on a piece of fish paper. Then put it in the bowl to create a giant fish bowl.
Use the bowl as part of the prayers of the church, holding the wants and needs of the people of God up.
Bring the children forward and have a plain amazon box.
I’m sure you recognize this! It’s an Amazon box! We seemed to have many of these come to our door this week! And I’m sure you did too! Every time a box came to our home, it was a reminder that someone who lived far away in our family or from our friends was thinking of us and we are not alone! Now, the plain box itself is one thing, but then when we open it, the gifts inside are decorated with fun paper or bows, like this, on them. When we wrap gifts, we often think of how special that person is to us and we hope that the gift we send makes them happy. But it’s not really about the gifts. Maybe in the past you’ve received a toy that you really wanted, fun new pajamas, a new bike or gaming system and that made you happy. But toys break, we outgrow pajamas or bikes and technology will stop working. Does that mean that the person who gave you those things no longer loves you? NO! Those things made us happy, being loved never stops and that is what joy is all about. Joy is about being connected to love: people who love us: moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, friends, teachers, and that we love all of those people too.
In our Christmas story tonight we heard an angel tell the shepherds good news of great joy for ALL people. What was that good news? Jesus was born!!! God loves us so much that God came to us as baby Jesus, to connect us to God’s love and to each other and this is great joy! Everyone, you, me, everyone here, everyone in the world, is connected to God and God’s love and are filled with Great Joy! God wanted the shepherds, Mary, Joseph and us to know that we are loved, and are God’s Great Joy. We are part of God forever. And God’s Great Joy can’t be put in a box or under our tree, It’s so big that it covers the whole world! And so as people who are God’s Great Joy-our job is to tell everyone we see that they are God’s Great Joy too! Just like we put bows on presents to remind the person that they are special, I have a bow for each of you tonight to remind you that you are special, connected to God and God’s Great Joy forever!
Prepare: Bring a single Communion wafer or a piece of the communion bread that you use in worship. Make sure that it’s not enough for the people gathered. This will work even better if you can move the children’s sermon to right before Communion.
Gather everyone together by announcing that you have food for everyone! Once the children gather with you start counting them with a look of concern on your face. If you are in your main worship space start counting the rest of the congregation, too.
But, this does make me think of the Gospel story we hear today. It’s a story about Jesus feeding thousands of people with almost nothing. Jesus blesses just a few fish and a little bread and sends his disciples out to feed them. When they are done feeding them there are more leftovers than when they started! I don’t think that is going to happen with this one wafer today. I think that if we break this in half that just two people will get half a wafer. No one will be full, and there won’t be any leftovers.
The miracle for us today is not that this one little wafer could feed us all, but instead the love, mercy, and grace that we receive through Jesus. The food in the story gets passed from person to person and with each person who is fed there is more food! The Good News of Jesus’ love is the same. The more we pass the Good News, the more people who are fed with God’s word, the more Good News there is to spread around!
That’s our miracle today.
If you can put the Children’s time right before Communion you are all set! If not, try a blessing that get’s passed through the congregation. Here’s how it works. You bless two children. They each then bless two more people, who then blesses two more, and two more, etc. The blessing starts slow, but grows fast, and there are blessings left over at the end, way more than there were at the beginning!
Prepare: Bring a small LEGO set or some other toy that comes apart or needs to be solved. Have a cross handy, it could be one that is already in your worship space, or you could bring one that might have special meaning for you. For example, I wear the same cross every day as a reminder of my faith.
Have the toy out as people arrive. Ask them what makes LEGO toys so fun. Steer them toward the idea that they can be made into other things, or that a puzzle can be solved over and over. You get the idea!
Yes! LEGOs are often really fun because you can remake them! I think that the best part about LEGOs is that you can keep building them. Sometimes I even take them apart just to put them back together! I’m the same way with puzzles. I like to mess up my Rubix Cube just so I can solve it again.
I was thinking of this when I read the story from Romans today. It’s really that first sentence that made me think of it.
“Should we continue in sin so that grace may abound?”
OK – that’s really just a fancy way of saying, “Should I go do something bad just to give Jesus a chance to forgive me?”
NO! But it does sound like how I feel about LEGOs and puzzles, doesn’t it? Paul, the person who wrote this story, thinks about Jesus’ forgiveness a different way. We believe that Jesus died to give us freedom from our sins. It’s not that Jesus likes forgiving us, but rather that Jesus loves us. When someone I love does something to upset me, it’s not that I like to forgive them, but that I love them and want to keep the relationship strong – so I forgive!
It is the same with God. You are so loved that God would do anything to keep you close – even send Jesus to die.
Gracious God, we can never thank you enough for your love and forgiveness. Be always near us as we strive to live in loving and gracious ways. Amen
God loves you always.
Get a bunch of blank puzzle pieces for people to write short prayers on (Or use the back of an old puzzle). Invite them to take the pieces home as reminders that God always works to put us back together, and to keep us close.
Prepare: Set up for a Birthday party – so that can be lots of different things! Maybe some streamers and party hats, or maybe cupcakes if you can manage that. Even noise makers depending on you tolerance for noise!
Alright, maybe it’s not anyone’s birthday who is sitting here, but it is our birthday today! Today is the day we celebrate Pentecost, and Pentecost is the Birthday of the Christian church. Since the church is made up of all the people who worship together, then today is our Birthday!
Pentecost is a festival day kind of like Christmas or Easter. We celebrate one of the big, important events that happened in the early church. Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus, Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection, and Pentecost is the day we celebrate the beginning of people spreading the word about Jesus and his good news.
Would you help me celebrate? (This is where you do your party. Use whatever you brought to throw a quick party. Sing Happy Birthday, or a song like “We Are the Church.” You might even go on a parade around the sanctuary or around your church building! Be creative and have fun!)
Loving and helping God, we thank you for the chance to be your church in the world. Lead us to do good works, to live with kindness and mercy, to share in abundance and to love each other the way you love us. Amen.
Preparation: yarn , something knit, crocheted or woven if you have it, strips of yarn if you want to pass them out to kids.
Gather the children to the front with you. Ask them to sit in a circle. Say I have this yarn with me, what things do you know about that you can use yarn for? (take answers, knitting, art projects, etc). Yes all those are great things. Yarn can be used to make things and also to connect things. When I am using yarn for knitting (or use other example) I am bringing together the pieces to make something. (show something knit together if you can)
In our Gospel today, Jesus tells us that God is connected to us. He says that we know God the father because we know Jesus and that we are promised that God is in relationship to us– or another way to say that is to say God is connected to us. So I wanted to try to show that with some yarn between us. I am going to hold onto this end of the yarn and say my name (say name) and then you hold onto the yarn gently pass the ball of yarn to someone across the circle. (do this while you explain) That person says her/his name (ask them to say their name). Now you pass it across the circle. Let’s keep going and see what happens.
By the end you will have a little web between you. Say, this yarn is one way we can see how God connects us. God is like the yarn in-between us, God is touching each of us and love each of us and God connects us to one another and shows us love through each other too. Jesus promises that we are connected to God and to each other and that these are ways we see and know God.
option–take a strip of the yarn (you can cut the one you used or have other ones ready) and tie it gently on your wrist or ankle when you get back to your seat as a reminder that we are all connected.
Finger knitting can be a fun way to engage and listen at the same time. Put out some instructions for finger knitting with a reminder that we are all connected in God at a table with yarn and scissors.
Or simply have cut strips of yarn and invite people to tie a piece of yarn to their wrists to remember we are all connected to God and to one another.
Gather the children in the back of your worship space. Ask them what they know about what was celebrated on Easter and what they know about the morning that the women found the tomb empty. As you are talking, begin to walk to wherever your font is in your space. Be sure that the children are following you. Keep talking until you get to the font. At the font, say, “We come together every Sunday to tell each other about Jesus in our lives. When we baptize people (children, babies and adults), we tell them how much God loves them and is with them forever. We also talk about how we are going to keep learning about God’s love through the Bible, The Ten Commandments, The Apostles’ Creed, The Lord’s Prayer, worship, and Holy Communion.” Then ask them what they know about Jesus from the Bible and begin walking toward the table. When you get to the table, say, “We know a lot about Jesus from the Bible, but in bread and wine, Jesus is known to us in real and concrete way! Give them all bread to eat (if this is a concern as it might look like communion for children who do not yet receive just hold up the bread). Jesus is truly with us just like this bread is truly with us!”
In our Bible story today, some disciples were walking and talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection. A man joined them and began to tell them about what the Bible said about Jesus’ and God’s love. But they didn’t know it was Jesus until they were sitting at dinner with him and he blessed bread and gave it to them to eat! They had been talking to Jesus that whole day! Even though they didn’t know it and they were sad about Jesus dying, Jesus was with them, even as they walked to a different town! Jesus is with us no matter where we walk, drive, ride our bikes or run. Jesus promises to be with us. We can talk to each other about Jesus no matter where we are too!
Everywhere our feet go, Jesus is there! Have different colors of construction paper, pencils, markers and scissors available. Invite people to trace their feet, cut out the tracings, write or draw how they know Jesus is with them in their daily lives, or how they experience the presence of Jesus in their daily lives. Hang them on a wall, or a bulletin board for a week and then invite them to take them home as a reminder.
Dear Jesus, you walk with us no matter where we go. Open our eyes to see you in our midst. Open our ears to hear your words of promise and love. Open our hearts to share the story of the good news of your death and resurrection that is for all people in all times and in all places. Give us your Holy Spirit to renew us for the journey. Amen.