Preparation: Have a couple of maps handy to show the children. Have one that is very simple that even a young child could point to a well defined location on the map. Use that map for your object lesson. Have crosses (one for each child or for everyone present!) cut out some printed off or old maps to hand out.
Be reading a map as you ask the children to join you where you lead children’s time. Look confused and turn the map every which way. Say to the children, “So I’m trying to figure out how to get to (town or location close to your church marked that they would know). I’m looking at this map but I can’t make heads or tails of it. Can you help me?” Show the children the map and hopefully they will point to the location! If not, you can help them. Say, “Oh thank you so much for pointing the way to ______. I sometimes get a little lost and confused and need help. We have maps and phones to help us get places don’t we? Sometimes we have to ask another person for help too!”
In the Bible story for today, Jesus is telling the disciples that there is room for everyone in God’s house and that he would soon be returning to God to live there. Jesus says that they should know the way because they have been hanging out with Jesus. But the disciples were confused and didn’t know the way. They were probably thinking that they could use a map! But Jesus tells them that HE is the way. Jesus is like our map in life. When we wonder what to do or say we can look to what Jesus did and said. Should we be nice to people? Yes! Should we help people? Yes! Should we tell people about how much God loves them? Yes! Jesus also says that if we get confused that we should stop and ask someone for help! We need each other to help us to remember the way to love and follow Jesus. Do you think that all of these people here will help you? Yes!
To help us remember that Jesus is our map in life, here is a cross made out of a map for you to take home.
Let’s pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us the way to love each other. Thank you for reminding us that even if we get confused there are people who will help us. Help us to show your love to everyone. Amen.
Make the sign of the cross on each other and say: Remember that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
Start from the back or side of your worship space (whatever makes sense but just not from where you usually gather the children). Call the children to come to you. As they come move closer to the doors or area that leads out of your building. (If you have cordless mics you will be able to go further but be aware that you want the adults to hear this as well.)
Ask the children: “Why do you think we are by the back doors and not up front where we usually are with the altar and the candles?” (Accept all answers) “Well, in today’s Bible story we see Jesus calling people to follow him and to help him tell the whole world about God. Does Jesus tell only pastors or priests to follow him? No, he tells ordinary fisherman to help him talk about God’s love for the world. Does Jesus tell the fisherman to go to the temple or the church in Jerusalem? No, he tells them to follow him out into the world with all kinds of people. This is what Jesus means by “fishing for people.” The fishermen didn’t actually throw nets on people and drag them to Jesus. But Jesus knows that showing love “catches” people and lights up their lives with God’s love and care.”
“Does Jesus ask us to follow him, too? Should we only tell people here in this church about Jesus and not anyone else or should we tell everyone who is outside of these doors (point to the back doors)? Jesus knows that all of us have a special way to tell others about God and that we don’t need special powers or to have read special books to know how to talk about God. All we have to do is to talk about God in our own words. We don’t need any special powers or classes; God says that God will help us. God’s love lights up our lives and we want that light to be everywhere for everyone. So let’s move our candles by/on the altar to the doors to remind us that we are to take God’s love and light to the whole world every day and in every place that we go.” (Have some adults prepped to help move candles or if your altar candles don’t move have some special candles on the altar this day that can go by the door. Or have some tables by the doors and lots of votive candles for each child to move from the altar to the door.)
“God of love and light, you ask us to share your love with the whole world. May we share your love at school, work, piano lesson, baseball, soccer, volleyball,____, and all places in our day. In Jesus name, amen.”
“God’s light is with you always.”