Children’s Worship: 1 Advent (C)

Wait and trust: Remember God keeps promises

December 2, 2012

Revised Common Lectionary readings :
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made.” (Jeremiah 33:14)

Introduction

In Advent, we are asked to wait. Instead of jumping immediately into Christmas, we spend four weeks pacing along its shore. Longing. Preparing. Waiting. Our tradition says it’s important. Because some truths are so big that we must get ready to receive them.

Of course, waiting is not easy. Far from it. But scripture assures us that waiting is a holy feeling. And scripture gives us some tools for its work. One week at a time. One step at a time.

Your job through this season is to take these shore-line steps with your congregation. To let them experience the holy feeling of waiting. And to let your children lead you all to that really big Christmas truth.

These resources are not simply words designed to be spoken to children. So that they get it. They are also words designed to be spoken to us by children. So that we get it.

Imagine that. Being led by a child. What in the world might happen next?

Children’s Worship Service

[The leader welcomes the children, focusing on them individually, making them feel as comfortable as possible.]

LEADER: [to congregation] Will you let your children lead you in worship?

[Pause for response.]

LEADER: [to children] Will you help our congregation, the “big kids,” remember the important stuff about Advent?

I want you to help me imagine something. Pretend with your whole bodies. So the big kids can see it and remember it, too.

What does it feel like when someone promises you something WONDERFUL [pause] and then tells you that you have to wait for it? How does it feel to wait? Show me.

[Take a moment for the children to imagine and show the feeling in their expressions and reactions. Don’t rush through this work or make light of it. Demonstrate that you take each response seriously.]

LEADER: [to congregation] Would you all join me in naming this? “Waiting is hard.” In fact, when I point to you, would you say this line? “Waiting is hard!” I know you can remember it, because waiting is hard for you, too.

[Invite the congregation to respond, “Waiting is hard!” when you point. Practice it with them. You could emphasize a different word each time, for instance: “WAITING is hard!” “Waiting IS hard!” “Waiting is HARD!” Let the children recognize that adults feel this, too.]

LEADER: [to children] So why all this talk and feeling about waiting? Because today we start a special season on the church’s calendar. It’s called Advent. And it teaches us how to get ready for Christmas.

One of the things that Advent teaches us is that we have to wait. Christmas is such a big truth that we can’t just jump there immediately. We have to wait. And get ready. And long for it. Do you remember that feeling?

Something special has been promised. A savior. Someone who will change everything. But the promise isn’t here yet. So waiting is a holy feeling for Advent. Thanks for reminding us how it feels.

Let’s let the big kids remind us, too.

[Leader points to the congregation.]

CONGREGATION: Waiting is hard!

LEADER: [to children] They’re right, aren’t they? But here’s something that may make the waiting a little easier. What if you trust the one who made the promise?

Let’s think about that feeling of trust. You can even picture someone you trust in your head. Someone who always takes care of you. No matter what. Now, show me with your bodies how that feels.

[Allow time for the children to embody and show this feeling.]

Because that’s a holy Advent feeling, too. Trusting.

If this person made you a promise, would it be a little easier to wait? Because you’d know it’s going to happen. No question. For sure. A really good thing will happen.

Advent feels like waiting. And Advent feels like trusting, too. Because God has promised something wonderful. A savior is on the way. And our scripture reminds us that God can be trusted. God keeps promises.

Let’s take a moment and look at the big kids in front of us. I know lots of them have their own stories about God taking good care of them.

LEADER: [to congregation] Big kids, would you raise your hand if God has kept a promise to you? [Pause while hands go up.] It helps to remember those times, doesn’t it?

[Give both the congregation and the children a moment to soak the response in.]

LEADER: [to children] Waiting IS hard. But God can be trusted. Remember that. Would you help everyone remember this Advent wisdom?

[Have the children face the congregation. Hold a microphone out to the children or encourage them to speak loudly so their voices carry. Say each line quietly to them, and ask them to repeat it aloud to the congregation.]

CHILDREN: [to congregation]

Waiting IS hard!
But God can be trusted!
Remember that!

 

 

— Teresa Stewart has worked with children and youth ministries in a wide variety of contexts for almost 30 years. Her passions include small congregations, deepening children’s participation in worship and training laity to continue this essential work. She lives in Kansas City, Kan., where she writes formation and worship resources for Paper Bag Cathedrals.

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