Preparation: Have enough name tags with different identifications on them such as: “sick,” “hungry,” homeless,” “thirsty,” “stranger,” “lonely,” etc. You can have more than one child with the same “label.” Expand upon labels as is appropriate in you context. Have enough name tags with “Jesus” written on them for each child (or even congregational member).
Gather the children and give them each a name tag with the label on it as they come up. Ask them, “Have you ever needed help and didn’t get any? How did that feel? (Accept all answers) It doesn’t feel that good does it. Have you ever helped a friend or even someone that you didn’t know?” (Hopefully, they will say yes.) “We all have helped someone, even if we may not know it! When we offer a hug, a smile or say a kind word, very simple things, we can help someone know the love of God can’t we? Here at our church we help people we know and people we don’t know in many different ways. (List some of the internal ministries (meals for the sick, visits, etc.) and outward ministries here. If you have any that children participate in be sure to say so and invite more children and youth to be a part of that ministry!) Some of the people we work with are the people that Jesus talks about in our story today and are on your name tags. Why do we do that? Is it just to be good? Is it just because Jesus says so (Jesus does but…)?”
“In our story today, Jesus does say that we should feed hungry people, give water to those who need clean water to drink, give people clothes, care for sick people, etc. And we do that! But it’s not just so that we can feel good about ourselves or make sure that God loves us right? No, God loves us no matter what. You each have on a name tag with a label of a type of person on it. We’ve all been sick, we might need shelter one day or food. We never know, one day we help someone else and the next day someone is helping us. That’s what we call “partnership” or working together. We all need stuff sometimes!”
“Here is another name tag for each of you. Whose name is on it? Jesus! That’s right! Jesus says that he loves us all very much, is with us always and we know that each one of us reflects Jesus to the world with every word, smile and action. Jesus says that you are a part of Jesus and Jesus is a part of you! And you, and you, and you and you (point to all of the children and all of the adults!)! Jesus says that we are connected to God and so we are also connected to each other-EVERYONE matters! We want everyone to know God’s love and to know that Jesus is with them and a part of their lives. So this name tag today reminds you that Jesus is part of you and your life each and every day and you are also connected to all of God’s people!”
We are all connected and share in the life and love of God. Have a large wooden cross or a large poster board cross that can be attached to a wall or free standing. Have several post-it notes and pens on the table with the cross. Invite each person to write a way that they need that community to pray for them this week on a post-it note and stick it to the cross. Then invite each person to take another person’s prayer off the cross and pray for them that week. You can choose to have names on them or not.
We are grateful that you love us all and bring us together for community, support and help when we need it. We pray for all of those who do not have enough to eat, do not have clean water, shelter, or are lonely in anyway. We pray to look for ways to be your love and mercy to all in the world and we long for the day when all of your people have what they need for daily life. In the name of Jesus who is with us always, amen.