X If you have been using the Moses Display (click on Moses Display), before reading this text place a fist size rock on the lectern. Then read the text. Finally, place the rock on the edge of the display to recall Moses’ burial in an unmarked grave at the edge of the wilderness.
X Pray for all kinds of leaders, remembering to include leaders in children’s groups – elected government officials, lay and ordained church leaders, class officers, team captains, patrol leaders, etc.
X Jump to 1Thesslonians below for a suggestion for connecting Moses, Paul, pastors of your church and the children.
There are several ways to read this psalm that will draw the attention of the children.
1. Note that this psalm is credited to Moses and invite worshipers to imagine Moses praying it as he looks out over the Promised Land before he dies. Then invite an elderly man forward to read the psalm.
2. Since this a psalm that speaks to God who is Lord of all generations, have it read by readers of at least two generations. A white haired reader could be paired with an older elementary school reader with each reading alternate verses. The older reader goes first and reads verses 5 and 6 as one reading.
3. Or, to involve more readers of a variety of ages and sexes, use the five reader script below. Include an older child, a teenager, a young adult, a middle aged adult, and an older adult. It doesn’t matter in what order they stand and read, but I would mix them up rather than go youngest to oldest or the reverse. They could stand around a central microphone each stepping to the mike to read from a script they hold or each could wear a lapel mike. A rehearsal before the service is essential for all to feel comfortable and thus project the faith of all generations that underlies the psalm.
Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17
Reader 1: Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Reader 2: Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Reader 3: You turn us back to dust,
and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
Reader 4: For a thousand years in your sight
are like yesterday when it is past,
or like a watch in the night.
Reader 5: You sweep them away; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning;
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
Reader 1: Turn, O Lord! How long?
Have compassion on your servants!
Reader 2: Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Reader 3: Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us,
and as many years as we have seen evil.
Reader 4: Let your work be manifest to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Reader 5: Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!
X If you have been working with the Moses display, sing “Our God Our Help in Ages Past” (based on Psalm 90:1-5) as the closing hymn. As it is sung have each item on the display carried out down the central aisle. Follow the order in which the items appeared in the story. In rehearsal assign who carries what and seat them in the correct order. Instruct them to pick up their item and to walk slowly out holding it with great dignity in both hands at shoulder level. The burning bush candle carrier, picks up the candle and steps to the side as the others leave. When all are gone, that candle is placed alone in the center of the display again. The benediction then refers to God’s presence with Moses through all the years in the wilderness and God’s continued presence with each of us during the coming week. (The recessional of the items is one way an older children’s class can become worship leaders together.)
Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
Point out places where the word HOLY appears in your sanctuary– in paraments, carved into the Table or other wooden furniture in the front, HOLY Bible, etc. Explain that HOLY is here to point first to the fact that God is holy. We meet the Holy God at the Table and in the Bible. But the HOLY is also for us. We are meant to be holy, to be like God. Read Lev. 19:1-2. Then jump to 18b. Note that this is the Golden Rule. (Enjoy the fact that you all now know exactly where it came from.) Then summarize, “how can we be holy, like God? We can follow the Golden Rule.”
Psalm 1 is an almost over-simplistic comparison of “the good” and “the wicked.” To make the comparison visual, have it read by two readers (perhaps both wearing dark shirts and pants or skirts). One reads the verses about the good. The other reads the verses about the wicked. They begin standing back to back in the center of the sanctuary. Each one turns to recite their verses facing the congregation then returns to the starting position. This is most effective if the readers actually recite their verses from memory.
Reader 1: Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
Reader 2: The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
Reader 1: for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
Reader 2: but the way of the wicked will perish.
NOTE: I used the NRSV in the script because this psalm is well known in this version. For a translation with an easier vocabulary for children look at Today’s English Version.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
X I doubt that it was intentional, but I think there is a connection between this reading and the story from Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy leadership was passing from Moses to Joshua. In his letter to the folks at Thessalonica, Paul is recalling his ministry with them. It would be possible to add to the mix stories of previous pastors in your congregation to explore the relationships between people and their leaders. If you have photographs or paintings of past pastors that are usually hung in public spots, bring them to the sanctuary. Tell stories. Ask who knew, was baptized by or married by … the more recent ones. Then move on to your points about pastoral relationships. Children may miss some of your later points, but they will be more connected to pictures they hardly noticed before – and those pictures will connect them more fully to the church.
X The Stewardship Connection here is the way leaders use their talents and time to help the whole community. Deuteronomy reminds us that it is not about Moses, fine as he was. It is about God and God’s people in all times and places. Similarly, it was not about Paul nor about any past pastors nor is it about us. We are called to live for God where we are. That is all. This is a different invitation to leadership than is often offered to children. Children are encouraged to become leaders because leaders are respected, well paid, etc. Today’s texts insist that leaders are simply people during their part just as Moses, Paul, and past pastors did their parts.
X If you did not do it several weeks ago when the 10 commandments appeared in the Wilderness saga, prove to the children (and all worshipers) that Jesus’ 2 great commandments really do encompass the Ten Commandments. Print each of 10 in large letters on separate pieces of paper. Then sort them with help from the congregation into to two piles, one for “love God” and the other for “love neighbors.“ If the children are up front with you, you can do this on the floor. Do it with the whole congregation using a tackboard or metallic white board or a flannel board.
To take it another step, turn the sets of rules into a congregational litany with one side of the room reading the Ten Commandments and the other responding with the correct one of Jesus’ Two Commandments.
X To explore the trap the authorities were setting for Jesus, identify some of the people who would have favorites among the ten commandments and would be upset if Jesus did not choose “their law” as most important. For example, store owners might want to be sure “Do not steal” was most important. Parents would definitely want “Honor your father and mother” near the top of the list. And so on.
X Go to The Greatest Commandment Children's Sermon for a ready-made children’s sermon or interesting way to open the “real” sermon. It addresses the difference in remembering 613 rules or 10 rules or 2 rules.
X Another Stewardship Connection: Connect the two great commandments to specific items in the church’s budget. If you sorted cards of the 10 Commandments into two stacks, return with cards bearing one budget item each and add them to the two piles. The point with the children (and the reminder to the adults, maybe especially the budget committee) is that we use the church’s money to follow the 2 great commands.