Saturday, January 29, 2011

Year A - Holy or Maundy Thursday (April 21,2011)

For children, Maundy Thursday is all about celebrating Holy Communion on the night Jesus invented it.  Just as the Nativity stories have special power on Christmas Eve, the Eucharist has added power on Maundy Thursday.  Just to be there participating in the sacrament on this night says that I am one of God’s people.  Because I eat at this table, I belong. 

Unfortunately, many congregations do not encourage children to attend this service.  The fact that it is on a school night makes it easy to decide that children will not be able to come and therefore to neither plan for their presence nor encourage them and their families to come.  After a few years of such expectations it takes more than one or two “children are welcome” notes to reverse the trendA clear invitation to families to join all God’s people to hear the stories of the most important days of the year and to celebrate the sacrament that was introduced on that night is needed.  It also helps to include children in some way in leadership.  Consider
    -asking a church school class to prepare the elements for
   - including children among the readers during the Tenebrae,
   - asking children’s choirs to sing, and
   - calling on families with children to serve as greeters and ushers.

Stories are important on this night.  The key story is the bread and cup of the Last supper.  But the story of washing the disciples feet, the failure of the church in Corinth to gather as a loving community to celebrate communion, and the Passover story are also part of the night.  And, though the Passion story belongs to Good Friday, all the stories told on Maundy Thursday look to the Good Friday stories.  In any given service only one or maybe two of the supporting stories can be involved.

The Last Supper is at the heart of the day.  Children imagine themselves in the room with the disciples eating with Jesus.  The Revised Common Lectionary sets John's gospel (with no bread or cup) as the gospel reading for the night.  For the sake of the children, you may want to read or tell one of the synoptic accounts in addition.  This year  read Matthew 26:17-20, 26-30Sitting around tables rather than in rows (whether you share a meal or not) also brings the story to life.   Using a loaf or matzo rather than wafer brings worshipers closer to the food of that first night. 

Jesus Washes the Disciple’s Feet.  You can almost see all the disciples looking at their feet, knowing that someone needs to do the washing, thinking that if they don’t make eye contact with anyone maybe it won’t be them.  Then Jesus does it.  He washes the feet of the people who will desert him.  He even washes the feet of Judas who will turn him in and tell his enemies where to find him.  I think a case could be made that Jesus did this as either practice for what was coming on Friday, as a demonstration of what it means to love, or maybe bothLike everyone else in the room, he knew everyone’s feet needed to be washed.  Maybe he thought to himself, “OK, if I can wash their feet - even wash Judas’ feet - tonight, maybe I can believe that I can do what is coming tomorrow.”  This makes sense to most children.  When washing feet is compared to yucky jobs that must be done every day – taking out the garbage, cleaning the cat’s litter, turning the compost pile, cleaning the bathrooms, dealing with a diaper pail – it calls them to join Jesus in practicing love.  The first challenge is to do these jobs for people we love and who love us back.  As we do we imagine doing them for someone who mistreats us and we remember that Jesus washed Judas’ feet.

While surfing for pictures of foot washing, I came across photos of weddings at which the groom washes the bride’s feet during the ceremony.  I’m guessing (hoping!) the groom gets his feet washed too.  This is a new idea to me and I’m not espousing it.  But it is an interesting wedding ritual that points out the very non-romantic ways husbands and wives (and all family members!) are to love each other. 

After washing their feet Jesus gives the disciples and us a new rule, “Love one another as I have loved you.” How do we love one another?  We wash their feet and do whatever else is needed (even the yucky jobs) to take care of them.

After washing the feet and sending Judas away to do his deed, Jesus announced, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”  Or, “if you want to see the glory of God, watch me wash feet.  If you want to share in the glory of God, wash feet like I do.” God’s glory is not seen in people walking on red carpets or standing on championship stands.  God’s glory is seen in people taking care of those around them – even washing their feet when needed.  This definition of God’s glory is a hard sell with children and worshippers of all ages.

SIDE-BAR:  Peter was offended by Jesus’ offer to wash his feet.  Youth and adults today understand his feelings.  But, children are used to being tended in many personal ways.  So, Peter’s issue isn’t their issue - yet. 

Display a towel and a basin prominently throughout the service.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 if taken in its context is the opposite of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.  The wealthier members of the church at Corinth came early with all their food to the church suppers.  They did not wait to eat until the poorer members got off their jobs and could come.  So, there was often nothing left for the poorer members when they arrived.  Paul calls them on their lack of loving care of people in need.

The Passover   Older children, especially those who have Jewish friends, are fascinated by the connection between Passover and the Last Supper.  But, before they can understand it, they have to hear the story of the Passover, know some of the details of the Seder, and know the details of Holy Communion.   Maundy Thursday worship is not the place to start into all three from scratch.  What you can do…

Invite the children forward for the reading of Exodus 12:14,11-14.  Then point out that God saved the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  Jesus and his disciples were remembering this story on the night of the last supper.  The very next day, Jesus died on the cross to save us from sin and death.  Note the similarity.  God saves us over and over again

Before Holy Week, invite a Jewish family to walk families of your congregation through a Seder.  They could just tell about it or present pictures of themselves celebrating it (maybe in a Powerpoint?)  Or, with their direction you could prepare a Seder meal to eat together with them leading the whole group through it.  Then, on Maundy Thursday seat worshipers around tables in the fellowship hall with communion elements on each table.  Read the Passover story and the story of the Last Supper before celebrating communion.

Exploring the Passover connection tends to lead adults to speak of Jesus as the Lamb of God.  Remember if you do that children think literally and are easily confused by metaphorical language.  For them the easiest way to understand Lamb of God is as a nickname for Jesus.  Actually, I’d save this term for other worship settings.

There are so many vivid stories vying for their attention in worship this night, that most children will miss Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 entirely.  That may be just fine.  Unpacking it enough for them to understand requires more than it is probably worth on Maundy Thursday.  So include it in the liturgy for the adults.

Tenebrae was originally celebrated on Good Friday, but many congregations, especially those who do not worship together on Good Friday, include it in Maundy Thursday worship following communion.  It is a candle lighting service in reverse.  Seven or eight candles are lighted in the beginning with each one snuffed out as a part of the Passion is read.  A deep toned hand bell may be sounded as each candle is snuffed.  Then after a moment of darkness, a single candle is relit to remind us of the coming resurrection and the congregation departs in silence.  Children deeply appreciate this ritual IF…

-          It is explained to them in advance
-          The readings are not too long and focus on storytelling. (This is not the place for John’s long soliloquies.)
-          Readers of all ages, including at least one older child, are involved.  (A child can often read the story of Jesus’ burial.)

Some congregations end this rite with a minute of silence followed by a single crash of a gong. Even when you know it is coming, the gong makes you jump.  Be sure the children know it is coming.  A note among the printed announcements is not enough warning!  Actually briefly explaining the Tenebrae and noting the crashing gong at the end makes good publicity drawing families to this service.

Songs for the evening:  “Let Us Break Bread Together” and “For the Bread Which You Have Broken” (especially verse 1, 2, and 4) are probably the simplest communion hymn for this night for children.  The Ghanian hymn “Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love,” while it may not be as familiar to adults as it is to children, is a good choice for congregational singing or for a children’s choir to sing.

Sharing the Easter Faith with Children includes
-          a plan for a Maundy Thursday service  rehearsing the Last Supper story and celebrating communion around tables,
-          a child-friendly script for a Tenebrae and
-          a plan for a children’s Tenebrae with props as well as candles that could be a special service for families on either Maundy Thursday or Good Friday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Year A - The Sixth Sunday in Lent Palm/Passion Sunday (April 17, 2011)


First, a word about the palms distributed to children and other worshipers.  The single strips of greenery often distributed to the congregation are not palm branches.  They are at best leaves from palm branches or even sections of leaves.  Children handed one of them and told to wave their palm branches are puzzled.  For good reason, they cannot imagine people waving such a thing to welcome Jesus.  So, to help them join the crowd on Palm Sunday provide them with real palm branches.  (They can be ordered from the same distributors at not that much greater a price.) 
The only reason to order the little strips of palms is to use them as Bible bookmarks or to make them into palm crosses.  To do the latter follow the directions with photographs at . 

I heard about one worship leader who walked the  whole congregation through making palm crosses of their own during the worship service, projecting the step by step photographs.  Worshipers were urged to take their crosses home to post on the refrigerator, a bathroom mirror, or some other visible spot where it can dry during the year.

Or, save palm Sunday crosses made today to make ashes for next Ash Wednesday.  Burn the crosses then crush them in a small bowl with a pestle and mixed the ashes with a little oil for use at the imposition of ashes.  The worship leader who described this  suggested that the majority of the ashes be prepared before the service, setting aside a few to be crushed during the service while the significance of ashes made from last Palm Sunday’s palms is explained.  It would also be possible to prepare the ashes with an older children’s class during the church school hour to both teach them about the ashes and encourage their attendance on Ash Wednesday.  (Warning:  ashes mixed with water may form lye which will burn the skin.  So, mix ashes with olive or any other kitchen oil.)

Palm Sunday processionals at the beginning of worship are a tradition in many congregations.  Often children lead or follow the choir/s waving palm branches.  Adults love these parades.  As children age, they can become uncomfortable and feel “on display” in them.  For them, the best parades are those that include worshipers of all ages mixed together.  It is possible for the entire congregation to begin worship outside or in “the hall” and then process into the sanctuary together.  When they process as a group, older children appreciate having a stylized way of carrying their palm branch such as help across their chest and pointed up toward their shoulder. 

In my book Sharing the Easter Faith With Children there are scripts for two calls to worship led by children.  One has children yelling set lines from several corners of the sanctuary.  The other has a group of children at the rear of the sanctuary answering a worship leader in the front and is based on Psalm 24.

Matthew 21:1-11

Though Matthew does not mention children participating in this parade, other gospel writers do and most worshipers imagine children present.  That makes this a good opportunity to have the gospel read by a well prepared child.

The Palm Sunday parade is all about what kind of king Jesus intended to be and how he would use power.  This leads many preachers to speak about political power and how it is used today.  Though they miss some of the details of such political discussion, older children are quite ready to explore the theme.  While younger children simply want power and insist they will use it well.  Older children are becoming more aware of the difficulty of using power well.  They are beginning to recognize that some leaders claim power and privilege for themselves and other leaders use power on behalf of others.  They have heard enough of the stories of people such as Martin Luther King, Ghandi, and Mother Teresa to know the importance of their contributions and to realize that being a servant leader has a price.  For these older children, Jesus entry into Jerusalem is both about Jesus and about the leader they hope to become.

One way to explore these two kinds of leaders is to display two crowns: a crown of thorns and a king’s crown.  Pick each one up and ponder the differences in the people who wear them.  This could be a children’s sermon, but would be more effective if done within the “real” sermon.  A gardener can probably create a crown of thorns and very presentable royal crowns can be purchased cheaply at party shops or borrowed from a local theater group.

Even if you are observing Palm rather than Palm/Passion Sunday, consider reading Philippians 2:5-11 to explore its description of Jesus’ kingship.  A trained dancer could take the directions below as a starting point to creating movements that interpret the psalm as it is read.  Or, children could be asked to come forward to help present this text to the congregation.  Introduce the passage as the words to a very old song about the kind of king Jesus is.  Before reading it once, suggest that they listen for movements.  Then, reread it inviting the children to join you in the movements below.


                                                        Philippians 2:5-11

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
Raised hands and face upturned toward heaven
but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
Rock a baby in your arms
And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Arms out to the side as if on cross
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name,
Raised hands and face upturned toward heaven
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Kneel and bring hands together in prayer
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Stay on knees and raise hands and face to heaven


Psalm 118.1-2,19-29

Psalm 118 echoes the parade story in Matthew.  Many of the verses could be shouts from the crowd.  To bring it to life, prepare readers to be scattered throughout the congregation to stand and shout one verse.  Reader 1 who reads the first and last verses is a worship leader standing in the lectern.  Remaining  readers could be of many different ages or could be the members of a teenage church school class.  (Teenagers with practice can read loudly enough to be heard without a microphone.  Older children are likely to be too soft even after a shouting practice.)  If 11 readers are too many to gather, settle for fewer assigning two or more verses to each reader.  This reading could be a call to worship or it could immediately follow the reading of the gospel lesson.


          Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

Reader 1:         O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

Reader 2:         Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

Reader 3:         Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

Reader 4:         This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.

Reader 5:         I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.

Reader 6:         The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.

Reader 7:         This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Reader 8:         Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!

Reader 9:         O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Reader 10:       Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.

Reader 11:       The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.

Reader 12:       You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.

Reader 1:         O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.



Vocabulary Heads Up:  for children passion is kissy, icky, mushy stuff.  Few have even claimed passion as an intense enthusiasm, as in “she has a passion for the cello.”  So, it is probably best to simply introduce “Passion with a capital P” as the title given to the stories Jesus betrayal, trials, and crucifixion.

Matthew 26:14-27 or Matthew 27:11-54

The chief question children ask about the passion narrative is “Why did people hate Jesus that much?”  They simply cannot fit this story with all the others about Jesus being a friend, a healer, and a helper.  In one kindergarten class a boy posed this question and was answered by another boy thoughtfully, “Jesus said they had to share and they didn’t want to.”  Right on target!  Jesus called people to share, to forgive each other, to take care of each other, even to love people who do not love us back.  None of this is easy on either the personal or national level.  Because people did not want to do those hard things, they wanted Jesus to stop saying them or go away.  Since he wouldn’t stop saying them, they got rid of him – they thought.  It is a stretch but worthwhile to explore the possibility that they hated Jesus because they knew he was right, but did not want to do what he asked. 

If you have a good history of public conversations with children, explore this with the children during a children’s time.  Open by reminding them of all the wonderful things Jesus did.  Mention three or four well known stories about loving, kind Jesus.  Then present a rough wooden cross or a picture of the crucifixion and ask, “How could that have happened to him?”  If no answer is immediately offered, note that this is a question people have puzzled over for many years.  Then, recall some of the hard sayings about sharing and loving enemies.  Talk about how hard they are to keep and how bad it feels when you know you don’t do what Jesus said.  If you have history of talking about such things in worship, children will start weighing in and together you can move to some conclusions.

If you state this question at the beginning of the sermon, many children will be hooked and will stay with you as long as they can.  Be sure to get the simplest answers out first (before you lose the children), then move on to the more adult answers to the question.  This is both safer  than public conversation in a children’s time and teaches children that sermons might be interesting – at least in bits.

Often the entire passion story is read during worship.  It is powerful, but long.  To keep worshipers of all ages tuned in, read it in sections.  Have each section read by a different reader and separated with music, perhaps a mix of short choir pieces and verses of appropriate hymns sung by the congregation.  (“Go To Dark Gethsemane” is a good choice for children.  Matching the verses with the biblical accounts helps children understand both more clearly.)  Select readers of both sexes and all ages.  A teenage boy might read Peter’s part.  The Burial and Posting of the Guards at the Tomb can be read by two older children who come to the lectern together and read without a pause between them.  Because it is the longest reading, the Crucifixion requires an especially dramatic public reader.

Mat.      26.14-16               Judas Reader     Judas agrees to betray Jesus
                26:17-30               Reader 1              Last Supper
                                                Judas Reader     interrupts to read vv. 21-25 about Judas
                26:31-35               Peter Reader     Jesus predicts Peter’s denials
                26:36-46               Reader 2              Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
                26:47-57               Judas Reader     Arrest in the Garden
                26:58-68               Reader 3              Trial before Caiaphas
                26:69-75               Peter Reader     Peter’s Denials
                27:1-26                 Reader 4              Trial before Pilate
                                                                              Judas Reader could interrupt to read vv. 3-5
Consider omitting vv. 6-10 for sake of time
                27:27-56               Reader 5              Crucifixion
                27:57-61               Child Reader 1   Burial
                27:62-66               Child Reader 2   Guards at the tomb

Go to for a script in which the congregation takes the part of the crowd declaring Jesus guilty and calling for his crucifixion. 

Peter’s First Easter, by Walter Wangerin Jr., has Peter telling his experiences from the Last Supper through Jesus forgiveness at the fish fry on the beach.  Older boys especially appreciate his straight-forward, strong but emotional account of what happened.  The art depicts Peter and Jesus as strong believable men.  The book is too long to read in its entirety, but a single story could be read from this book at children’s time during a service with a sermon rather than reading of The Passion. 

Adult worshipers know that Easter follows this horrible story.  But, children, especially younger children may not.  Even if they have heard the Easter story, they may not place it after the passion.  Older children who may be tuning into this reading of the full passion story for the first time, often respond strongly.  So, it is important to end with a reminder that God has a wonderful surprise waiting.  If you buried the Alleluia in a box, bring out the box, refer to what is in it, and invite the children to come next week to celebrate God’s wonderful surprise ending.  It can be worth the effort to call the children up front briefly to be sure they hear this promise of a better ending.

Philippians 2:5-11

Use the movement of this great hymn about Christ to summarize the Passion.   See the directions for a trained dancer or for the children to come forward to move to this reading.  (Directions are in the Palm Liturgy section at the beginning of this post.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Year A - Ash Wednesday (March 9, 2011)

Other than Good Friday, Ash Wednesday is probably the day on which children are least expected or planned for in the sanctuary.  The prophet Joel, however, insists that parents bring their children to the meeting he has called to point out to the whole community that they are sinners.  Today, there is much for children to learn from seeing their parents and the leaders of the congregation wearing ashen crosses and even more from wearing ashes themselves.  The experience deeply binds them to their faith community.

The imposition of ashes is amazing to children.  They marvel at the sight of adults wearing the ashes.  At first they wear their own ashes as a sign that “I am one of them” or “I belong.”  As they hear the language about sin, forgiveness and repentance, they begin to wear them as an admission that “yes, I too am a sinner.”  This is not an easy step for children who are repeatedly told that they are "wonderful" and "capable."  It also flies in the face of frequent adult insistence that they can make good choices which is often taken to mean “if you try hard enough, you won’t be a sinner.”  Ash Wednesday makes it easier to make the admission that “yes, I too am a sinner” by setting it in the presence of everyone else making the same admission. 

We are all first marked with the cross using water (and sometimes oil) at our baptisms.  At that time to be marked with the cross is a wonderful thing.  We are identified as the loved children of God.  On Ash Wednesday we are marked with the cross using ashes and the words, “remember you are dust.”  The ashes and words remind us that we are not so wonderful.  In fact, we are all sinners.  Fortunately the sign is not an X, marking us as hopeless rejects, but a cross reminding us that God loves and forgives us, sinners though we be.   

In spite of their interest in the ashes, for children Ash Wednesday is mainly the beginning of Lent.  Lent is for them spring training for disciples.  We begin the season admitting to ourselves and others that we are not perfect disciples and are fortunate that God loves and forgives us anyway.  We then commit to doing better.  When children are offered specific doable disciplines that will help them be better pray-ers, better Bible readers, better at serving others, they respond enthusiastically.  Having committed themselves to such disciple training, they come to communion as to the training table.  Here they are reminded of God’s love for those who try and do well  and also for those who try and do not do as well as they wish.

Many congregations mark the beginning of Lent by changing the paraments and adding special crosses to the sanctuary.  It is very appropriate to make these changes on Ash Wednesday.  But, if the reality is that many will not be part of the Ash Wednesday service, consider stripping the sanctuary for that day leaving it somber and then adding the Lenten colors and symbols  on the first Sunday of Lent when you can call the majority of the congregation to observe Lent. 

In Sharing the Easter Faith With Children I offer detailed plans for 2 Ash Wednesday services.   Neither is built on the lectionary readings for the day.

One is a traditional sanctuary service built around the stories of Peter who had to repent frequently.  It uses many traditional prayers selected with the presence of children in mind, a call to confession, the imposition of ashes, changing the paraments, introduction of Lenten disciplines, and communion.

The second begins with a pancake supper at which soap crosses are carved or wooden crosses are sanded and rubbed with linseed oil.  After supper people follow the tolling handbells to the sanctuary for a short service of stories about picking up crosses and following Jesus. 

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

This text can frighten children with its threat of God punishing people.  Isaiah’s message with its call to change your ways is complicated, but gives children a way to respond other than simply be frightened. 

Incorporate Joel’s trumpet into the call to worship.

Trumpet alarm (not a fanfare)

Leader:            Blow the trumpet; sound the alarm on Zion, God’s sacred hill.
Tremble, people of Judah!
The day of the Lord is coming soon.
Come back to the Lord your God.
He is kind and full of mercy;
he is patient and keeps his promise;
he is always ready to forgive and not punish.

Trumpet alarm repeated.

Leader:            Blow the trumpet on Mount Zion;
give orders for a fast and call an assembly!
Gather the people together;
prepare them for a sacred meeting;
bring the old people;
gather the children
and the babies too.
Even newly married couples must leave their room and come.

(Joel 2:1, 13b, 16 – Today’s English Version)

Isaiah 58:1-12

Though this is a complicated passage, when it is explained to children, they respond.  Isaiah is saying we don’t need to be sad about the bad things we do.  Instead, we need to stop doing those things.  We need to change our ways, to repent.  Verses 6 and 7 are key.  When they are explored and linked to specific Lenten disciplines offered to the congregation, children take up those disciplines enthusiastically. 

Introduce fasting as going without something.  Point out that frequently it means going without food.  Some people plan to go without something they like for the six weeks of Lent, e.g. go without chocolate or sodas or desserts.  But Isaiah suggests that we go without some bad habits and cultivate new ones.  Isaiah would say to children,
Fast from greed, feast on sharing
Fast from telling lies, feast on telling the truth
Fast from hating, feast on loving
Fast from teasing, feast on kind words
Encourage worshipers to make up their own fast, feast challenges and to undertake living by them during Lent.  (This is based on a more adult list found at )  The worksheet below is one way to present this challenge to children.  Urge them to post their papers somewhere in their room at home where they will see it often. 


                                                 During Lent I Will

Fast from _____________________________________________________________

And feast on____________________________________________________

Fast from _____________________________________________________________

And feast on____________________________________________________

Fast from _____________________________________________________________

And feast on____________________________________________________

Fast from _____________________________________________________________

And feast on____________________________________________________

(Your name)



King David arranged for a man to be killed in battle (accidently on purpose) so that the King could marry his wife.  Adult Bible students will know why David wanted to marry Bathsheba, but the murderous theft of a wife is significant in itself to grab the attention of worshipers of all ages.  What do you pray to God after you do that?

Verses 1 -6 are descriptions of how sinful humans can be.  They include lots of unfamiliar to children “sin” words –transgressions, iniquity, sin, evil, and guilty (NRSV).  Write one or more of these words on a large sheet of poster paper in black crayon or by dipping your finger in the ash pot.  Briefly describe all the ways we hurt and sin against each other and God.  Specifics help.  Name calling, hitting  to hurt, cutting someone out, teasing someone to hurt them, cheating, telling a lie or a secret, … are familiar sins to children.  Point out that we don’t like to admit we do these things, but that all of us do.  Then note that on this day every year (and perhaps during each Sunday worship service), we take time to be honest with ourselves, with God and with each other about this.  We are all sinners.

Verse 10, “Create in me a clean heart and put a new and right spirit within me” is an interesting word picture that has to be explored before children can grasp it.  The literal picture is both odd and right on target.  Children need to be told David did not want God to cut him open and wash off his heart.  But, he did want God to help him “clean up his act.”  He wanted God to give him a second chance or a fresh start and wanted God to help him do better.  He wanted to repent.  When we pray this prayer we join David.  (Even though we haven’t done anything as bad as having someone killed, we have done lots of other hurtful, sinful things).  If you have done the sin words poster, add REPENT in purple marker.

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

For children on Ash Wednesday this is simply a call to repent now.  Now, during Lent, is a good time to work on being better disciples.  “Just do it!”  They will not hear this as the passage is read, but depend on the worship leaders to restate the call in other ways during worship.

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21

This is another “just do it” message.  Jesus says we should make a show out of our Lenten disciplines.  We don’t need to tell everyone we know and remind them of how good we are being by doing it.  Instead we are to make it between us and God.  Talk to God about it.  Ask God to help us.  Thank God for forgiving us when we fail.  Tell God why we are doing it.