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: 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.
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.
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.