Preparation: Death is not something that we talk about much in our culture and today can be a wonderful opportunity to talk to children about death. Many of them have experienced death in some form or another (if not a relative, then maybe a pet) and to give them a space to process grief in their faith community can be valuable and supportive. This might be a longer children’s sermon or incorporate it into the sermon message to be a cross generational time in worship. For young children it is important to use precise language. Say the words “death,” and “died.” Children become confused and scared by euphemisms such as “lost,” “passed on,” or “gone.” They have all been lost or their parents can be “gone” for time and this can raise anxiety around what death actually is.
Have a picture of someone or a pet from your life whom has died. Tell the children about this person or pet. What do you remember about them, what saying or action from them you now say or do? If a pet, tell about something that was uniquely that particular pet. Ask the children to tell one thing about someone that they know who has died. Give space for this. If you do this as a cross generational time, have people pair up or small group themselves for this conversation. Say, “Do we sometimes feel sad about missing our loved one or pet? We do don’t we? It can make us feel good to talk about the person or pet that we miss and still love but it can also make us feel sad at the same time. Life is like that and we all feel sad and happy at the same time sometimes.”
Say, “Jesus talks about what it is to be blessed in our Bible story this morning. He even says that people who mourn-who are sad-are blessed. That seems weird doesn’t it? To be blessed is to feel sad? But here is what Jesus means-we only feel sad about missing someone or a pet who has died because we loved them very much. To love someone and to have that person or pet love us feels very good and is important. Jesus is reminding us that love is what is the most important thing-even when we are sad. All love, love for each other, our friends, family, pets, comes from God. To know love from friends, family or pets is to know a little bit more about God’s love in our lives. This is a blessing-that God loves us, gives us people around us to show God’s love and to know that God is with us always. That’s what Jesus means that people are blessed-God’s love surrounds us all at all times and in all places. Even when death is involved. Today we are remembering and celebrating people that we miss so much because we love them so much! Death cannot and never will stop love. God’s promises that not even death can separate us from God’s love. This is a day when we share that good news with each other and the world.”
Love is forever. God, we are grateful for your presence with us when we are happy, sad, confused, joyful, angry, peaceful and at all times. Love from you flows to others around us and we are indeed blessed to live in your love and promises with our friends, family and pets. We know that death doesn’t separate us from you and that we are never alone because you promise to with us always. In Jesus name we pray, amen.
Have small candle holders, tea light candles, permanent markers, a large candle stand or table, easy lighters (for safety only adults should light candles). Have a table where everyone can decorate a candle holder with a loved one’s name on it and other important words or symbols about your relationship with the person who has died. Put the tea light in the candle holder and place it on the table with the other candles. Each person can light their own candle. After your worship station time, have a communal prayer highlighting all of the people that this congregation has loved as evidenced by all of the lit candles. Pray that this love spills out into God’s world as the light of Christ shines through us for the sake of the world.