You will need a partner for this who is good at ‘not paying attention’ until the last noise. They could even be acting as if they are sad or very distracted.
Gather the children with you. Have your partner off to the side looking away. Start to welcome them and tell them the story and then interrupt yourself and say, “oh, ______ (name), hey, come join us! I want you to hear this story.” Person should look around but not turn towards you or the person can just keep his/her head down.
Hhhmmm… kids, I know this person has been kind of distracted and even sad lately… I think hearing from Jesus could help… could one of you go tap ____ on the shoulder and see if he/she will come over?
Huh, it’s like ____doesn’t even hear us… maybe we should get louder. Come up with a loud noise you can do together like clapping or snapping.
Hhhmmm… being loud did not work… being annoying did not work… how can we show _____ our love? Take suggestions. Then go over to the person and either give a nice pat or hug and say we care about you, will you come sit with us. The person can look up in surprise even and say thank you and come over.
What worked in getting _____ to come sit with us? Showing some love. Or another word is compassion. Compassion is when we see and know someone else is having a difficult time or feeling bad and we have a desire to do something, to help them. Jesus today in the gospel saw a woman who was weeping because her son had died. He had big compassion for her and even though he had all these people crowded around him and wanting his attention, the woman did not notice him right away. Jesus went to her and said, stop crying–which is what got her attention right away! She wanted to see what Jesus would do. Jesus healed her son, brought him back to life. The Bible tells us he had compassion for her–he felt for her and he could not help but take action. It is another story of God’s big love for people! That our feelings, our grief, our life, our death are all things that God loves brings to life.
God of big compassion, give us eyes and ears and hearts to see those around us who need your big love. Fill our hearts and eyes and ears and minds with your big love so we remember you are filled with compassion for us too. Amen
At the end of the children’s message in the pews or tables around your sanctuary have small paper hearts. Ask people to write the name of a person, place, or issue that they have compassion for on the heart. Have another very large heart cut out of paper that all the other hearts can fit into. Or an outline of a heart on a wall or large mural. Ask people to place their hearts inside the big heart. Make a sign over the big hear that says God’s Big Compassion and Love Heart for All. As people add a heart they can lift up their passion and compassion in prayer.