Preparation: picture of a yoke for oxen, yarn or ribbon or paper to connect children together, a rock and other props that might be fun for two hands tied together to try. You can also just have two volunteers for this part
for worship station–paper strips, one per person in congregation
Our reading from Matthew today talks about being yoked together–do you know what a yoke is? It is not something we see everyday now but in Jesus time it was a familiar thing.” Show the picture and describe how a yoke keeps the oxen together so that they can pull together and work together. “How do you think this feels to the oxen to be hooked together like this? I think it could feel hard and burdensome–but also it could make the work lighter and easier to be together. Let’s try an experiment.”
Option one: have enough yarn or ribbon to tie kids together loosely at the wrists. You will want to use enough yarn so that you can cut it and then they each end up tying a piece of their ribbon to their own wrist
Option two: have two volunteers (or prep volunteers ahead of time–acolytes can be great for this! ) that you will tie together with a ribbon or bandannas or string.
Tie the yarn or ribbon around two wrists and hook them together. Do not make it tight. “Ok, now that you are tied together, let’s see what you can do. Try waving together. Now try clapping! Try writing in the air (or have a pen and paper for them to try). Can you pick up this rock together? (have a small rock and a large rock, see which one is easier to pick up) “What is it like being yoked together? What is hard about it? what is fun about it?”
Jesus is teaching about how some things in life, even things in our faith or our religious practices can become difficult or a burden. He says that what he teaches and what he promises is that even as we are yoked together to him, we are also given rest. Our life in faith and walking with Christ will bring rest to our hearts and we can live connected to one another which makes the walk lighter and sets us free to be one in Christ in the world.
Jesus, help us to be yoked to you so that our hearts and spirits can rest and also know you in all we do. Show us how to be connected with one another and share your love with all the people and all the nations.
For a worship station–you can use this station as a connection to the children’s sermon and a way to broaden it out to the congregation. Take this time to explain how the station works if you have not already. **You can also tie this into July 4 celebrations in saying that God has connected us an our nation to other nations of the world and as we work together as a global community we become connected and we share Christ’s love throughout the world.**
Connected through the Holy Spirit: There are paper strips in the pews, in the back, and available from the ushers. Please take one and write your name and/or a prayer and/or names of loved ones who are not here today. Then use the tape in your pew to bend the paper into a circle and connect it with your neighbor’s paper. We will create a paper chain of prayers and names that will then be draped on the cross up front to remind us of how the spirit connects us to Christ and to one another.