Kid Connections

5 Ways to Connect with Kidsermons:

1. When delivering a children’s sermon, sit with the kids on their level and talk directly to them.

eye_to_eye
2. Listen and respond to comments; work them into your message. Kids say profound things. Often times, they are the sermon.

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3. Use props that help to illustrate an important truth. Make sure that the connection between the prop and the truth is authentic and memorable.

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4. Make a connection between the children’s message and the sermon. Make connections with the Bible readings. Grown-up listeners appreciate this too.

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5. Welcome parents to accompany their shy children to the front of the church so that everyone feels included and brave.

Feel free to leave comments or questions. Blessings on your ministry!

Clear a Path

For the Third Sunday of Advent

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Scripture Reference: John 1:23 “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord’s coming!”  WrappingMess

Preparation: Bring several large squares of wrapping paper, a fat marker, and a bag for garbage.

Today is the third Sunday in Advent. Christmas might still seem a long way off, but while we wait, we should be getting ready. How do people get ready for Christmas? (Let children respond. Note the “getting ready” suggestions, writing several on the back of each sheet of wrapping paper. Then throw the papers on the floor in front of you.) We get ready for Christmas by making lists of things to do and things to buy. We get ready by wrapping presents. We have parties and get dressed up. We send out Christmas cards. We do Christmas baking. (A pile of paper should be growing at your feet.)

There are so many busy things to do at Christmastime, that sometimes we forget who we are supposed to be getting ready for. Christmas celebrates the coming of someone very important. Who is that? (Children may answer.) Yes! Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. Jesus is coming! And during Advent we are supposed to be getting ready to receive Jesus.

Before Christmas comes, we are busy getting ready in many ways, but the most important thing we can do is to get our hearts ready to receive Jesus. John the Baptist was a man whose job was to help people get ready for the coming of Jesus. He knew what he was supposed to do. When people asked him who he was, John the Baptist answered, “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord’s coming!’”(John 1:23 nlt).

If the Lord were to come down this aisle and walk right up to us, would he have a straight pathway? (Indicate the mess of paper on the floor.) No, he’d have to make a path through all of these busy things that we do to get ready for Christmas. Can you help make a straight pathway through the middle of all this? Let’s make a straight pathway for Jesus. (Children can help push wrapping aside to make a path down the middle.) Thank you. Now Jesus has a pathway.

Advent is an exciting time of getting ready for Christmas, but in the middle of all of our busyness, we need to remember to make a straight pathway in our hearts so Jesus can come in. Before you go, can each of you grab a paper and put it in the bag? Then you can find your pathway back to your seats.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, come into our hearts in the middle of our Christmas preparations and remind us to make a pathway for you. Help us to receive you with joy.

God’s Hug

For the Second Sunday of Advent

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Scripture Reference: Isa. 40:1-11 “He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.”  Group_Hug

Preparation: You may want to ask adult volunteers to help you with the big group hug at the end of the sermon.

It’s the second Sunday in Advent, isn’t it? During Advent, we wait for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. Sometimes it feels like we have to wait for a long time. If you have ever waited a long time for your mom or dad to get home and you’ve been missing them, you might feel sad and want to be comforted. What happens when you finally see each other again? How would your mom or dad give you comfort? (Let children respond.) Do they wrap their arms around you? It feels good when we can get a hug from someone. A hug is a real comfort to us when we’ve been waiting for someone.

There’s a verse in the Old Testament book of Isaiah that says, “Comfort, comfort my people . . . speak tenderly. . . . [The Lord] will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young” (Isa. 40:1–2, 11 nlt).

When Isaiah says, “He will gather the lambs in his arms,” who do you think those lambs are? (Wait for answer.) You are God’s lambs, and he is your shepherd. When you’re lonely or sad, God wants to take you in his arms and comfort you. But sometimes we can’t feel God’s hugs. So who can God use to give us hugs for him? (Children may respond.) Yes, we get hugs from our parents, our brothers and sisters, and friends—we get hugs from people who care about us.

Do you think God is big enough to hug the whole world? Yes, God is big enough to hold all of his lambs at one time. How many people can you hug at once? Can you get your arms around just one person at a time, or can you hug two people at once? If your arms were really long, you could maybe hug three or four people at once.

I know I can hug at least one person. I’ll show you, if someone would volunteer to be hugged. (Give one volunteer a hug.) And I’m pretty sure that I can hug two people at once. (Give two volunteers a hug.) But in order to hug all of you at once, the way our Father in heaven can, I will need some help. (Have your volunteer adults come forward to help out.) Now let’s see if we can give all of God’s lambs a hug at the same time, the way God can. (Give a group hug.)

That was a very big hug, wasn’t it? Remember that God is bigger than any sadness or loneliness, and he can comfort all of us, but he needs people to help him give hugs. Will you remember to give out plenty of hugs today? After our prayer, you can go back to your places and give someone a hug.

Prayer: We thank you, our Lord and Comforter, that you care about us and want to hold us close. Help us to show others your love.

King and Shepherd

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For the Last Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 29: Christ the King Sunday

From “Saving the Ants”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture References: Matt. 25:31-46 and Ez. 34:11, 16  “I myself will search for my sheep…I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…”

Preparation: Bring a large cardboard or wooden shepherd’s staff to help ’round up the sheep.’

What does a king do? Can anyone tell me what the job of being king might be like? What sorts of things would you have to take care of? (Let children respond.) A king has to make laws. A king might have to be a judge and decide who is right. A king has to defend his country and his people from attacking armies. Do you think that a king has to take care of sheep? Does that sound like a job for a king? (Children can answer.)

Shepherding is a dirty, tiring job. You’ve got to chase after sheep all day, and then you have to sleep with them at night. If a wolf is running after your sheep, you have to run out and tackle the beast and protect your flock. Can you imagine a king in velvet robes and golden crown running around in a muddy pasture chasing sheep?

Well, today is Christ the King Sunday and we recognize that Jesus Christ is the Almighty King, ruler of heaven and earth. But the Old Testament reading describes the Lord God as a shepherd taking good care of his sheep. A king and a shepherd, those are the pictures we have of our Lord this Sunday.

Ezekiel 34 tells us what kind of shepherd our Lord is: “I myself will search for my sheep. . . . I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak” (Ez. 34:11, 16 NRSV). Even when the sheep are scattered all over the place, the shepherd will gather them up and bring them back. God always looks for us when we’ve turned away from him and have taken the wrong and dangerous path. Our Lord never gives us up for lost.

Would someone like to try shepherding this morning? (Choose a volunteer and hand them the shepherd staff.) Now, the rest of you are sheep. I’d like you to spread out here in the front. (You may have to set boundaries and say that sheep have to be on all fours so that your sheep don’t stray too far.) The shepherd needs to gather up his sheep and bring them back here to sit down again. The shepherd will walk around calling, “Here sheep! Come home!” And as soon as the shepherd touches you with his staff, you have to follow him. Make sure you touch everyone gently with your staff, shepherd. (Help if needed.)

Good job, shepherd. (Sheep sit again.) Jesus wants us to take care of each other just like he cares for us. He wants us to feed the hungry, take care of the sick, and even help people who have done bad deeds. By caring for others, we care for Jesus. Every one of you can be a good shepherd.

Prayer: Jesus, you are our Good Shepherd. Thank you for your tender care.

Use It Or Lose It

For the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 28

(Lectionary 33) From “Saving the Ants”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Matt. 25:14-30 “… to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”

Jesus told many parables describing how we need to prepare for when he comes again. He really wanted his disciples to listen. Jesus’ return is something to look forward to, but it is also something for which we need to prepare.

Jesus told “The Parable of the Talents” as a way to show how we should get ready for Jesus’ return. Because “talents” can mean either money or something that you do well, it helps to think about what Jesus meant by telling this story in a new way. Here is a different version of that same story:

One day, a school principal had to go on a long trip. She called her three best students into her office. To the first student, she said, “God has blessed you with an ability to understand computers. I’m going to leave you with all these new computers. I know you’ll be able to make good use of them.”

To the next student she said, “You have been blessed by God with a sense of beauty and design. In the studio I have left bolts of fabric, paint, and other art materials for you.”

To the last student she said, “You have been blessed by God with a listening heart and the ability to solve conflict and to bring friends who are fighting together again. All that I have to leave with you with are kind words and a smile.”

When the principal returned to the school many months later, she went to see what her best students had done with the talents each were given. The first student showed her the library where students could access other libraries and classrooms with cameras that looked in on scientific experiments happening around the world. “Well done!” said the principal, “More computers will be delivered tomorrow for you to use.”

The second student showed her the assembly auditorium that had been transformed into a fantastic stage with scenery and curtains. The principal also saw that this student had painted large murals on the walls. “You have done a splendid job!” exclaimed the principal. “In the art room I have left brightly colored clay. Create any sculpture you like.”

The principal looked for the third student. She crossed the playground where many students were arguing and found the third student crouched behind a tree, ignoring the arguing. She glanced over at her friends fighting, but didn’t move from her spot. The principal was upset. “You could have used your gifts to bring harmony to the playground, but you did nothing,” she said. “Your friends needed you and you did nothing to help them. I am very disappointed in you.”

All of us have been given talents by God. If we do not share our talents, we disappoint God and our wonderful gifts are wasted. If we use our talents to help others, then we can be excited and happy to meet Jesus, knowing that we have done our best with what we have been given.

Prayer: Thank you Lord,  for giving us the ability to do so many wonderful things. We want to use our gifts to help others; help us to do this.


Be Prepared

For the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 27

From “Saving the Ants”

Matthew 25:1 – 13; “Jesus said, ‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.’”  

Preparation: Bring two flashlights with spent or very dim batteries and extra batteries for only one of the flashlights.

In the Gospel lesson for today, Jesus told a story about ten maidens. Five were foolish and five were wise. The maidens were waiting for a bridegroom to arrive so that they could go to a marriage feast. But since most of you probably aren’t real familiar with marriage feasts, bridegrooms, or oil lamps, I will tell you a little different version of the story, and I’ll need your help.

I need two volunteers to hold my flashlights. (Hand out flashlights, one with extra batteries and one without extra batteries. Try to give the batteries to a child old enough to replace them without too much help.)

One evening in the land of the Mighty King, there was a wonderful party planned. It would be held in the king’s own castle. There would be feasting and music and dancing. At the end of the party, all the guests were welcome to stay at the castle as long as they liked. All came to the castle walls to wait for the king himself to arrive. He had promised to walk them through the secret passages and doors that led to the very center of the castle, where the feast would take place. Only the king knew the way.

Jan Adam Kruseman (Haarlem 1804-1862)

Jan Adam Kruseman (Haarlem 1804-1862)

The king told all of the guests that they might have to wait some time, but they had to be ready for him when he came. “Watch and wait,” he said, “because you do not know that exact hour that I will come.” Two young subjects of the king were waiting for him to arrive. They both had their trusty flashlights along and as it got darker, they both turned their lights on and waited for the king. They waited for a long time. The lights got dim and the two almost fell asleep. Suddenly, a shout rang out. “The king has arrived! Get up, turn on your lights and follow the king.”(Have volunteers turn on their dim flashlights.)

One of the subjects was foolish and had no extra batteries and couldn’t follow in the dark. The other subject was wise and had brought along extra batteries. He quickly changed the batteries, got up, and followed the king into the feast. (Help child change batteries.)

The story is about what will happen at the end of the world when Jesus comes again. Nobody knows exactly when Jesus will return, but we know that Jesus will come to earth again. We need to always be ready, to be doing what God wants us to do. And with Jesus in your heart and God’s love in your life, you will be ready for Jesus when he comes again.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your promise to return. Help us to be ready.

Showoffs

For the 20th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 26

(Lectionary 31) From “Saving the Ants”

Matt. 23:1-12 ” …The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Preparation: Bring a phylactery and a prayer shawl, or pictures of each to help illustrate.

We know that God is love and that God sent Jesus into the world to save us because of his great love for us. But is God always happy with what we do? (Let children answer.) Jesus loves us, but sometimes the way we act can make him sad. We know that our parents love us, but if we do something wrong, we’re going to get scolded, aren’t we?

In Matthew, chapter 23, Jesus was talking to the crowds that had gathered around him, and he had some advice for them. He told the people to listen to the scribes and the Pharisees preach from the Bible, but he warned the people not to act like they do. Jesus said, “They crush you with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to help ease the burden” (Matt. 23:4 NLT).

The burdens that the Pharisees were putting on the people were many little laws that the people were supposed to follow. For example, they expected the people to bring offerings of all kinds of food and spices. If someone used ten cups of flour to make bread one day, the Pharisees wanted them to bring one cup of flour as an offering to the temple. Most people were poor and worked hard all day long. They couldn’t take the time to obey such laws. The Pharisees were rich and had time to obey their own laws.

Jesus scolded the Pharisees for making a big show of how they worshiped and how often they went to the temple. Many Jews wore little boxes strapped to their forehead with a band of cloth; it was called a phylactery and it contained scriptures written on little pieces of paper. The Pharisees wore these also, but to make them more noticeable, they made them very large. The Pharisees also wore prayer shawls with very long fringes so that people would notice them and admire them.

The problem with all this was that the Pharisees didn’t really care about impressing God. The Pharisees wanted to impress their neighbors instead. In other words, they were big showoffs. Do you think God is impressed by a showoff? (Let children answer.) God is pleased with the opposite of a showoff. To be the greatest in God’s eyes is to be a humble servant. God wants us to serve him willingly just because we love him, not because we want other people to see the good things that we’re doing.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, may we always keep our eyes on you and not on ourselves. Help us to be your humble servants.

The Greatest Commandment

For the 20th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 25

(Lectionary 30) From “Saving the Ants”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud

Scripture Reference: Matt. 22:34 – 40 “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments are based on these two…”

Preparation (Optional): Bring heart-shaped stickers to distribute at the end of the message.

Some of you probably know many of the commandments listed in the Bible. Can anyone tell me one of them? (Let children respond.) The Ten Commandments are:

1. You shouldn’t worship anything or anyone other than God.

2. Respect God’s name; it is special. Don’t use it as a curse.

3. Remember the day of worship and keep it holy.

4. Respect your father and your mother.

5. Don’t kill anyone.

6. Husbands and wives, keep your  special love only for each other.

7. Don’t steal from anyone.

8. Don’t tell lies about your neighbor.

9. Don’t be jealous of your neighbor’s house.

10. Don’t be jealous of your neighbor’s family. Don’t want for yourself anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Paraphrase by author.)

There are other commandments found in the Bible as well. Which one do you think is the greatest, most important commandment? (Let children respond.)

This is a question that the Pharisees used to test Jesus. The Pharisees were a group of people who went to church a lot, but they were not very loving. They asked, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments are based on these two. . . .” (Matt. 22:36-40 NLT).

I want everyone to put up your ten fingers. Those stand for the Ten Commandments. Now turn your palms so that they’re facing you and cross your hands on your chest. That is the symbol for love. All of the Ten Commandments are based on loving God and loving others. If we really do love God, we will naturally obey all Ten Commandments. The commandments are based on love and respect.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your set of rules based on loving you and others. Help us to keep all of your commandments out of love for you.

 

Pay Your Respect

For the 19th Sunday after Pentecost; Proper 24

Scripture Reference: Matt. 22:15-22

 Preparation: Bring coins with heads on them. You could bring a penny to hand out to each child at the end of the sermon.  istock-23533886-coin-quarter-washington

Has anyone ever asked you a trick question? (Children may respond.) Here’s an example of what I mean by a trick question. What if you had two best friends, and someone asked you, “So, which one do you like best?” Well, you like both of them, but this person is asking you to choose only one. So this isn’t really a fair question.

Jesus was asked a trick question by a group of Pharisees who wanted to get him into trouble. They asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Matt. 22:17 RSV). This was a trick question because if Jesus said that you should pay taxes to Caesar, most of the Jews there would be angry because they didn’t like Caesar. But if Jesus said that you shouldn’t pay taxes to Caesar, then the policemen might come and arrest him, because you had to pay taxes.

So Jesus took their trick question and turned it into a question about not just where you pay your money, but where you pay your respect. Jesus asked the Pharisees to show him the money that they pay taxes with, and they showed him a coin that was like this quarter. (Show the quarter or other coin.) Then Jesus asked them, “Whose picture and title are stamped on [this coin]?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. “Well then,” [Jesus] said, “give to Caesar what belongs to him, But everything that belongs to God must be given to God” (Matt. 22:20-21 NLT).

This quarter has a picture of George Washington on the front of it; he was the first president of the United States. Well, we can’t give this coin to George. He died a long time ago. But he represents the government, and we can pay our government the taxes that the country needs to provide us with roads, police officers, firefighters, parks, and so many other things.

We can give our money to the church to help support God’s work. We can use our money to help support people that are telling people about Jesus. Although God does appreciate our offerings, he wants more than just our offering on Sunday morning. God wants us to pay him our respect, love, and obedience. God wants us to offer our whole selves to him and be willing to serve with all of our heart.

Prayer: Lord, we offer to you our respect and our love and our obedience. We want to serve you with all of our heart.

The Gardener

For the 17th Sunday after Pentecost or Proper 22

(Lectionary 27) From “Saving the Ants”

Isaiah 5:1-7  “Now I will sing for the one I love
a song about his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a rich and fertile hill.
2 He plowed the land, cleared its stones,
and planted it with the best vines.
In the middle he built a watchtower
and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks.
Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes,
but the grapes that grew were bitter….”  

Preparation: Bring flower or fruit stickers to hand out.  getyourkidsinthegarden

In the Old Testament reading this morning, the prophet Isaiah tells a story about someone who planted a garden. I want all of you to imagine that you are planting a garden. You want this garden to be very special and beautiful, so you begin by carefully preparing the soil. You take out all the rocks and dig up any weeds you find. You mix rich, black compost into the soil and rake the dirt so that it’s soft and crumbly and ready to be planted. Then you start to plant your seeds. (At this point, begin to put one flower sticker on each child, while you continue talking. You may, however, choose to hand out stickers at the end of childrenís sermon.)

You choose only the best seeds to plant in your garden. The chosen seeds are planted with care. Every day the garden is watered, and watched. The birds that come to eat the seeds are chased away. The weeds that pop up in the garden are quickly pulled out and thrown away.

With a garden so well tended, do you think good, healthy plants will grow? (Wait for responses.) Your garden should produce beautiful, healthy plants, shouldnít it? What if you put all that work into your garden and the only thing it produced was weeds? No flowers, no fruit, only prickles and thorns. How do you think you would feel? (Let children answer.)

Do you know what happened to the gardener in the story Isaiah told? He planted grape vines and took good care of them, but his garden didn’t produce good grapes.

God is like that gardener, and we’re his plants. God takes good care of us and wants us to grow and do good things. When we turn away from God and do what we shouldn’t, it’s as if God’s garden is wilting and filling up with weeds.

Do you think God feels sad when this happens? I’m sure he does. This morning, you all received flowers to help you remember that you are part of God’s garden. Grow strong and bear good fruit!

Prayer: Lord God, our Creator, thank you for making us and caring for us. Help us to grow like healthy plants and produce good things with our lives.