Prepare: You will need a large(ish) flat rock that will be stable and not rock back and forth, like a flagstone; and a box with some marbles in it. The box should be big enough to put the stone in (or the stone should be small enough to fit in the box!)
For the worship station, try to have several more flat rocks available. Flagstone is great for this! Have several colorful permanent markers out, too.
As the children gather, set the stone out on the floor (someplace where it will not scratch the floor because the children will be asked to push on it! Maybe on carpet or bring a blanket if you have wood or tile floor.) Keep the marbles hidden in the box for now. Ask the children if any of them have a nickname, something special that their parents or a good friend calls them.
In the Gospel story that we hear today Jesus gives one of his friends a nickname, and it is such a good nickname that we sometimes forget his real name! Jesus gives his friend Simon the nickname Peter, which means rock. Have a rock right here! What can you tell me about this rock?
(You may need to encourage some answers here. Things like, “Does it move around, or is it steady?” “Do you think that it is breakable?” etc. You want them to see the rock as strong and stable.)
You could probably stand on that rock and feel pretty sure that you won’t fall over. Now, what if I do this? I am going to put this rock in this box that has some marbles in the bottom. What happens now? Is it still stable? Do you still think that it would be ok to stand on?
When Jesus gives Simon the name Peter he does it because he wants to build a church on Peter! Not a building, but a community of people. Jesus wants Peter to be strong and steady for the people who follow Jesus. Jesus knows that this is a good choice because Peter has figured out who Jesus is. Peter knows that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Other people say that Jesus is an ancient prophet who has come back to life, or that Jesus is trying to be John the Baptist – and that is kind of like the marbles under our rock. It makes everything a little less stable. Peter, however, knows who Jesus is, and doesn’t have any marbles under him to throw him off. He is steady as a rock!
Have an area set up with the rocks and markers. Invite people to write the name of a person who is/was a rock in their faith formation. It is not one name per rock, each rock should be covered in names! Start with the all the rocks spread out, as they fill with names stack them together to make a cross, or a fish, or some other symbol of the Christian faith.
Living God, we praise you for the people who have been rocks in our life. You have blessed us with people who build up our faith on a sure foundation. Teach us to be that sure foundation for people in our lives. Amen
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