Saturday, May 26, 2012

Year B - Proper 8, 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 5th Sunday after Pentecost (July 1, 2012)

This week it is all about the texts.  Their themes are all over the place – mourning, a healing and raising to life that bring two marginal women back into the community, and sharing with folks in need.  Each one has something to offer children.

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27

L Not just the children, but most worshipers, will need the back story on this.  Who is Jonathan?  How did Saul and Jonathan die?  And, then what is David saying about them in this funeral song?  At the least, read 2 Samuel 17:57 – 18:5, 10-16 (the alternate reading for last week) or replace this text with one of the stories about David that have been omitted from the lectionary.  See Year B - Proper 7 for this list.

L If you do build worship around David’s mourning, help children learn to mourn by introduce ways we let all the sadness out.  Show the obituary page and explain that when a person dies family and friends write about all the things a person did and name the people who were special to that person.  If you have a cemetery, talk about what is written on stones to tell how special that person was.  Even describe memorial services.  Then tell that when David’s best friend Jonathan died, David let all his sadness out in a poem.  Read it from the Bible or from this Bible storybook version of it.

On the hills of Israel our leaders are dead!
The bravest of our soldiers have fallen!
Saul and Jonathan, so wonderful  dear;
Together in life, together in death;
Swifter than eagles, stronger than lions.
Jonathan lies dead in the hills.
I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan;
How dear you were to me!
How wonderful was your love for me.

                        From The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories, Mary Batchelor

Psalm 130

L Children will not follow this psalm as it is read, but when it is highlighted they can begin to understand verse 1 “Out of the depths I cry to you.”  Read the phrase several times.  Brainstorm a list of “out of the depths” situations being sure to include some that will be familiar to children, e.g. family fights (not fussing about what to eat for dinner, but big fights with name calling), hopeless fusses with siblings, being stuck for the summer in a camp or child care place you do not like, etc.  Describe David’s “depths” as he heard that Saul and Jonathan had been killed in a battle.  Read David’s funeral poem listening for how bad David felt. 

L Ask what we do when we are in “the depths.”  First we tell God about it, but then….  Read verse 5 and rephrase its insistence that we remember that God loves us and will save us. 

L If you are working with Psalm 23 all summer, connect these verses to the psalm phrase, “when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

L Give worshipers gray sheet of papers and black pencils with which to write or draw about “the “depths” they face or know of.  Collect them all in baskets to place on the worship table.  Comment on all the pain in those baskets, then read the psalm over the baskets.   

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24

This is here to echo the gospel reading.  The children will, however, hear the message better in the gospel story. 

Lamentations 3:23-33 or Psalm 30

Given this choice, I’d go with Psalm 30 for the children - if I used either one.

L Most children live exactly in the present, the now.  This psalm requires a longer view than they have.  Probably the best way to share it with them is simply to read it as a prayer that the woman who had been sick for 12 years or the dad whose little girl was dying could have prayed.

L In reading about this text I came across a quip that would catch the attention of children.  This seminary professor said, weeping or sadness come just to “spend the night” but joy “moves in.”  Children appreciate the difference, but still will have trouble claiming the coming joy in the middle of the sadness.

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

$$ Display or project pictures of people living in poverty and in comfort.  Identify the similarities and differences.  Note that the Christians in Jerusalem were living more like the people in the poverty picture and the Christians in Corinth were more like those living in comfort.  Then, challenge worshipers to listen to what Paul said to the people in the church in Corinth as you read this text.

$$ Compare the Christians at Corinth sending money to the struggling Christians in Jerusalem to your congregation’s sending money to people who need it today.  Display pictures of specific projects with which the children are familiar and at least one that will be less familiar.  If any youth or families in your congregation are going on mission trips this summer, mention them or maybe hear a report from them.  Embedding their report in the sermon makes it feel less like an announcement and more like an illustration of a point of the sermon.

$$ Don’t overlook the possibility that children have money or other gifts to share.  Some families hosting birthday parties for children ask guests to bring something that will be given to a child other than the birthday child.  The birthday child has the honor of picking what the gifts will be and where they will go.  Examples I have heard of include bringing books that are given to refugee children learning English and bringing favorite kid foods to go to the local food bank (I think this one netted lots of blue box mac and cheese and sugary cerealsJ).  Describing this practice plants seeds with families that know they don’t need a huge pile of birthday gifts.  

Mark 5:21-43

F This is one of the few Bible stories that feature a child.  Children, especially the girls, appreciate the fact that the first person Jesus raised from the dead was not some important grownup, but a little girl.  They hear kindness in the way Jesus speaks to her and tells her parents to get her something to eat.  To be sure you have their attention before reading, introduce the reading with “listen for twelve year old girl who was dying and a woman who had been sick for twelve years.

F To separate the two stories and help listeners hear them both, ask two readers (one male, one female) to read this text.  The man starts reading from the lectern.  At the proper time, the woman comes from her seat and nudges him aside to read her part, then steps aside walking out a side door to make space for the man to finish the story.  Encourage the readers to take the roles of Jairus and the sick woman and to read dramatically as those people might have told this story about themselves.


Mark 5:21-43

Man: When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea.  Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.”  So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him.

Woman:  Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years.  She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.  She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.”  Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.   Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”  And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ”  He looked all around to see who had done it.  But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Man:  While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?”  But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”  He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.  When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.”  And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!”  And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement.  He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.



Do NOT Interrupt Me!!!!!
F Children are often told by adults not to interrupt them, but are often interrupted by adults who want them to stop what they are doing to do whatever the adult wants NOW.  This story provides them both good news and a challenge.  The good news is that when the sick woman interrupted Jesus, he did not get upset but stopped to help her.  So, Jesus is willing to hear from us whenever we need him.  We don’t have to worry that we are interrupting.  The challenge is that as Jesus’ disciples we are called to be like Jesus.  That means we need to be willing to be interrupted too.  We need to pay attention to the needs of others around us and be willing to stop what we are doing when they need us.

F If your congregation practices rites for healing, this is a good day to explain them and walk through them with children.  If oil is used show them how it used.  Be sure to address the fact that not everyone who prays for healing or uses this ritual will be healed.  If anyone who is more familiar with these rituals than I am has ideas about how to introduce them to children, please share.  I and others are all ears.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Year B - Proper 7, 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 4th Sunday after Pentecost (June 24,2012)

Soooo many options that speak to children this week!!!!  This is probably the longest post ever.

There are three natural storms that awe Job, panic the disciples in a boat, and overtake those who go down to the sea in ships in Psalm 107.  In both northern and southern hemispheres late June can be a stormy time.  So, it is easy for everyone to get into the fear of the storms. 

Set the stage with a stormy, dissonant musical prelude.  If they are familiar in your area, add a storm siren.  Hang the storm flags used in coastal regions.  If you taped red streamers to electric box fans on Pentecost, tape dark blue, gray and black streamers to remind of the storms.  Begin worship with a call to worship that names God’s power and our fears.

Adults immediately make the mental jump from natural storms to stormy fights with friends, problems in families, wars between countries, illnesses that upend our lives and the lives of all around us, etc.  Children need help.  Early in the service tell them specifically about these other kinds of storms.  Show pictures of a variety of storms asking “What is the storm here?” “How does it feel to be in this storm?”  Then encourage them to listen for the storms in worship today and for suggestions about how we face all kinds of storms.

The common element in all these storms is our fear of their power.  None of these stories deny the power of the storms.  The storms are there and are real threats.  But, each one insists that God is with us in all the storms.  Children are often told not to be afraid.  These passages, on the other hand, say that fear is the appropriate response, but that fear doesn’t need to overpower us.  Jesus/God is with us. 

Give worshipers gray paper and black pencils with which to draw pictures of what they fear while they talk to God about those things or to write prayers about their fears.  Invite them to drop their prayer sheets into the offering plate or collect them in baskets that can be placed on the central table and be prayed over by the whole congregation.

1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4-11, 19-23) 32-49

F The story in the Bible is long, but everyone might enjoy hearing the whole thing read from the Bible.  Children especially enjoy hearing a story they probably know read in church from the big Bible.

BTW I couldn’t find a version of this story in a children’s Bible storybook that I particularly like.  If someone else has one, speak up!

F To make it more dramatic, have it read by three males – a deep-voiced big Goliath, a 10-12 year old David, and one of the usual liturgists.  They stand in the front each carrying their script in a choir folder to read.  It will be smoothest with either lapel mikes or three separate mikes.  Try this script.


1 Samuel 17: 1a, 4-11, 20-23, 32-49

Philistine Reader:  Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh,  And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.  He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders.  The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him.  He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me.  If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.”  And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.”

Israelite Reader:  When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid….

David Reader:    David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry.  Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army.  David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers.  As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.
David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

Israelite Reader:  Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

David Reader:  But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock,  I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it.  Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.”   David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Israelite Reader:  So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”  Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail.  David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them.

David Reader:   Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them.  Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

Philistine Reader:  The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him.  When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.  The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.   The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.”

David Reader:  But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,  and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

Philistine Reader:  When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David,

David Reader:   David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.  David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

From the NRSV


F Have a group of children retell the story by singing “Only A Boy Named David” with the motions. 

F How big was Goliath?  Well actually he wasn’t as big as some cartoon giants.  He was between 7 and 10 feet tall.  He was a very big man and from his words we know he was mean.  His spear weighed about 19 pounds.  The javelins used in the Olympics today weigh one and a half pounds.  (If you have one pound and 20 pound gym weights, let children handle them to get a sense of the difference.)

F The challenge is to get worshipers of all ages past the way this story is used in our culture to say that the little guy can beat the big guy to the biblical message that God’s power is stronger than the power of humans – even giants.  Unpack this by paying careful attention to the war of words that precedes the physical battle.  What does Goliath say?  What is his power?  Then, What does David say?  Note that David does not say “I come to you with the perfect aim of my deadly slingshot” but “I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty.”  Reread the rest of David’s speech taking time to highlight his reason for getting into this fight and who he thinks is going to be the winning power.

F Compare David with the other Israelite soldiers.  The other soldiers facing Goliath said “I’m scared” and “I can’t (because I am scared).”  David said,  "who does that giant think he is dissing God?  God can use me and my trusty slingshot to teach him a lesson."   Then, identify times when we all say “I’m scared” or “I can’t (because I am scared)” and challenge worshipers to follow David’s example.

F If you are uncomfortable with David’s use of violence to settle the score with Goliath, take a look at “How to Train Your Dragon” (2010 animated movie).  In it Hiccup, the puny son of the Viking chief Stoik the Vast, conquers an injured dragon by befriending it.  (There is a clip in which Hiccup tells his friend Astrid that when he looked into the eyes of the dragon, he saw someone just like himself and realized that the dragon was afraid too.)  In return for Hiccup's making him a new tail, the dragon becomes Hiccup’s partner.  Together they save the village and replace the animosity between dragons and Vikings with friendship.  The problem with this is that it strays from the Bible’s insistence that God rather than human physical or mental powers wins the day.  But it does parallel the small guy winning – and without resorting to violence.

F Another movie that connects to this story is “The Karate Kid.”  David perfected his slingshot skills doing the mostly dull, boring job of taking care of the family sheep.  In the 1984 Karate Kid, the kid builds his muscles and responses by sanding and repainting a very long wooden fence and repeatedly polishing an old car.  In the 2010 version he must repeatedly pick his jacket up from the floor and hang it on a hook.  In both versions the Kid hated the job and did not understand until later how it prepared him for his Karate match. 

Psalm 9:9-20

This is a psalm David might have prayed while taking care of his sheep (and so perfecting the skill of trusting God) and while walking toward Goliath.  It is an acrostic and makes most sense in that format.  So, have it read by a series of readers of all ages with each reader stating their letter before reading that section.  Readers stand in a line at the front of the sanctuary.


Psalm 9:9-20

Waw    The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Zain     Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion.
Declare his deeds among the peoples.
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

Het      Be gracious to me, O Lord.
See what I suffer from those who hate me;
you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,
so that I may recount all your praises,
and, in the gates of daughter Zion,
rejoice in your deliverance.

Tet       The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.
The Lord has made himself known, he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.

Yod      The wicked shall depart to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.

Kaph    For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor perish forever.
Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail;
let the nations be judged before you.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
let the nations know that they are only human.

                                                            Based on NRSV



1 Samuel 17:57 – 18:5, 10-16

F I suspect that this text is offered as an alternate for those who do not want to read David and Goliath in worship.  But it’s presence here led me to look at the upcoming David stories.  And, that led me to ponder which David stories have been included in the lectionary and which have been omitted.  I think I’d do some rearranging.

In Proper 8 David mourns Saul and Jonathan.  I’d consider reading all or part of Samuel 17 - 18:5,10-16 about the difficult relationships between David, Saul and Jonathon as back story and focusing on the difficulties of friendships.  Knowing this story makes David’s mourning his best friend and the King he loved, but who hated him, make sense and feel even sadder.

I’d also consider omitting the Proper 9 story of David being crowned in favor of one of the omitted stories below simply because the omitted stories offer stronger themes.

The lectionary creators omitted the following stories about David that I think would provide strong foundations for worship that would speak to both children and adults

1 Samuel 24 – David spares Saul’s life and cuts off a corner of Saul’s robe when Saul stops to go to potty in a cave unaware that David is hiding in the cave.

1 Samuel 26 – David spares Saul’s life again, this time taking the spear beside him when David found him asleep.  I’d use either chapter 24 or 26.

1 Samuel 25 – Abigail negotiates peace between David and her husband – a wonderful, strong story about a woman who was a peacemaker.

From The Family Story Bible,
Used with permission
F “David and Jonathan” in The Family Story Bible, by Ralph Milton, fleshes out the details of this story and adds further stories about the problems between David and Saul and the friendship between David and Jonathan.  (Reads aloud in 4 minutes)

Psalm 133

Go to Year B - Second Sunday of Easter for ideas about using this psalm in worship.  Today it celebrates the friendship of Saul and Jonathan (especially in the face of the problems presented by Saul’s hatred of David) and the harmony Paul seeks, but sometimes does not find, in the church at Corinth.  The fact that such friendships are not easily formed or kept makes them even more precious.

Job 38:1-11

To understand God’s message from the whirlwind, one needs to hear the whole story of Job.  This fall Propers 23,24, and 25 include Job texts.  It might be better to save Job for then.

Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32

Psalm 107 is a road song.  Pilgrims climbing the steep, hot road up to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple, would recite it as they walked in groups, rather like some of the songs families sing in cars as they travel today (think “Banana-nana-bo bana”).  It has a clear pattern of verses describing the trouble some people faced and were saved from by God and a chorus calling on them to “thank the Lord” for their deliverance.  Today’s “verse” describes the problems that befall those who go down to the sea in ships – like Jesus and his disciples in Mark.  It turns into a responsive congregational reading.  Before reading it, tell worshipers to imagine themselves in a crowd singing on the hot, steep road to Jerusalem.  For maximum effect have the whole congregation stand and walk in place as they read the psalm together.


Psalm 107:1-9

People:           O give thanks to the Lord, who is good;
whose steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those God redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

Solo:                Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the mighty waters;
    they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their calamity;
    they reeled and staggered like drunkards,
and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out from their distress;
    he made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.

People:           Let them thank the Lord for this steadfast love,
for these wonderful works to humankind.
For God satisfies the thirsty,
and fills the hungry with good things.

                                                                        Based on the NRSV


2 Corinthians 6:1-13

F This complex text is mainly for the adults.  One message to share from it with children is Paul’s account (vss. 3-7) of how he stuck with his job no matter how hard it got.  Read from the Contemporary English Version with lots of dramatic inflection.  Stop after each set of 3 difficulties to detail them with brief specifics from Paul’s life.  If you have read the gospel storm at sea, be sure to refer to Paul’s being shipwrecked at sea.

3 We don’t want anyone to find fault with our work, and so we try hard not to cause problems. 4 But in everything and in every way we show that we truly are God’s servants. We have always been patient, though we have had a lot of trouble, suffering, and hard times. 5 We have been beaten, put in jail, and hurt in riots. We have worked hard and have gone without sleep or food. 6 But we have kept ourselves pure and have been understanding, patient, and kind. The Holy Spirit has been with us, and our love has been real. 7 We have spoken the truth, and God’s power has worked in us. In all our struggles we have said and done only what is right.

F The Karate Kid that connects to David’s story could also be used as a parallel to Paul’s perseverance in his mission.  Like Paul, the Kid stuck with his teacher's assigned task even when he did not want to do it.  During the current run up to the Olympics children hear plenty about athletes following their disciplines.  Paul insists that there are other areas in which we are called to stick with it - even when it gets hard.

Mark 4:35-41

F Imagine how Jesus’ voice sounded when told the wind and waves to be still.  Did he say it loudly and forcefully or gently as if calming a puppy?  Was he irritated with the storm - or with the fearful disciples?  Try saying it several ways.  Invite worshipers to read it as they think Jesus said/meant it.

Delacroix, Eugène, 1798-1863. Christ and the Disciples on a Raging Sea,
from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved May 24, 2012].

F This painting of the storm at sea comes from the Vanderbilt Art library.  There are several others just as wonderful in different ways.  Show this or one of the others.  Talk about storms and how it feels to be caught in the storm.  Point to Jesus asleep in the boat and ask how the disciples felt when they were so scared and Jesus was sleeping.  Then read Mark’s account of what happened.  Older children can compare the difference in the disciples’ fear of the storm and fear of how Jesus calmed it.

F Sing “Eternal Father Strong to Save.”  In the USA point out that it is the Navy Hymn.  Before singing it work through the phrases of verse 2 connecting them to the gospel story.  Also, point out the final line of the first three verses.  Have the congregation say it together.  Identify groups of people who live on the sea today.  Then sing the hymn.

F See other suggestions about fear in the face of storms at the beginning of this post.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Year B - Proper 6, 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost (June 17, 2012)

One writer titled an essay about this set of texts, “Just a Kid, Just a Seed, Just a Church” and pointed out that the texts insist not only that God CAN use small things to do big things, but that God’s preferred method of operation is small things.  This is a welcome message to children for at least two reasons. 

First, children who are often sent to eat at the kids table and are shuttled aside at interesting looking events often feel over looked and undervalued.  They, like David, have been left behind when the rest of the family went off for a sacrifice and feast.  So they appreciate God’s making everyone wait until David can be included and God’s insistence (in front of all his big brothers and father) that David is “the one.” 

Second, children are growing up with superheroes and heroines who “save the world” with splashy deeds.  They admire real life people who make the big plays in sports and other parts of the real world.  They long to do something “special,” “important,” “big,”… .  They sense in the question, “what will you do/be when you grow up?” the need to have a plan or at least a wish to do something important that will “save the world.”  So they tend to devalue what they can do here and now, every day.  David's anointing and Jesus’ small-seeds-that-grow parables challenge them to value and to seek out opportunities to do small deeds of kindness and justice knowing that God will work in them to do big things. 

The Quarreling Book, by Charlotte Zolotow, seems rather mis-titled to me.  It is not so much about quarreling as it is the story of a day made miserable for everyone by a cascading series of little hurts people inflict on each other in turn.  The day changes when the dog licks the hand of a boy who has just pushed him off the bed.  That begins a reverse cascade of small kindnesses that rescue the day.  Read it in about five minutes to remind worshipers how small things can make a big difference for either good or bad. 

1 Samuel 15:34 – 16:13

_On Father’s Day bring this story to life, by having it read and pantomimed by a group of men and boys.  The seven brothers can simply step out from the group and stand in place (maybe in the military “at ease” pose) as the brothers are called out in the story.  Old Samuel looks at each one shaking his head with surprise as God says, "not him."  Finally, young David is brought in.  Or, send Jesse to the side door to open it and whistle for David who then appears, kneels to be anointed, then goes back out the side door.  A rehearsal will be needed so all actors are sure of their movements and to work with everyone on using their faces to react to what is happening.  This should be a fun bonding time for the group. 

NOTE: As I write this the week after Mother’s Day, I am aware of all the sensitivity to women who are not mothers on that day.  I suspect there are also men who do not need another reminder that they are not fathers or who know they have been less than fine dads.  So, include among these readers some fathers, sons, and even grandsons, but also some men of all ages who do not have children.

_The story as presented in the Bible is fairly easy for children to follow if they are invited to listen with an introduction like, “Today’s reading is the story of a boy named David who has seven, count them – seven!, older brothers.” 

_If you want a shorter version of the story turn to “King David Is Anointed” in Children of God Storybook Bible, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

_Hiccup (How To Train Your Dragon – animated summer of 2010 blockbuster movie from Pixar) is the son of a Viking chief, who expects him to be the next chief.  Because Hiccup is not the brawny warrior his dad is, Dad and everyone else looks down on him and belittles him.  Hiccup however is paying attention to the dragons who attack the town.  Rather than kill the young dragon he finds, he befriends it and uses what he learns about dragons from it to befriend all the dragons.  This could be useful today to explore a familiar runt who turned out to be special (like David, Hiccup is a future leader who will be great) or you might want to use it next week as a companion story to David and Goliath.  Next week it offers a young hero who wins the day by turning the enemy into a friend rather than by killing him - which is welcome, but more about that next week.  

_If your congregation uses anointing in worship, this is a good chance for some worship education.  Name and even walk through the different kinds of anointing you do.  Then, introduce anointing a king as practiced in the Old Testament.  You might even anoint children (or all worshipers) with a dap of good smelling lotion or simply olive oil saying to them something like, “God chose David to be a king.  God has work for you to do too.”  This could be done during a children’s time, as worshipers leave the communion rail, or as they leave the sanctuary.

_To focus on Samuel rather David, preface the reading with brief remarks about Samuel the great prophet who had anointed Saul the first king.  Read 15:34 – 16:2a.  Pause to reread “Saul will kill me!” with feeling and note why Samuel might have been scared to do what God wanted.  Read 16.2b -4.  Pause again to note why the town leaders were trembling. Read 16:5-6.  Stop and remind worshipers that Samuel was called “The Seer” and what that meant.  Read the remaining verses using your voice and facial expressions to emphasize the fact that “the Seer” was not seeing well here.  Then comment on God’s seeing and human seeing.  This could be a children’s time, the reading of the day, or the beginning of the sermon.

Psalm 20

Psalm 20 is a prayer for the king to be sung during a ceremony in the Temple.  For adults to dig through the details of royal liturgy and theology might be interesting and set the stage for preaching about governing leaders today.  But children will miss most of this.  For them I’d read Psalm 23, connecting the line “he anoints my head with oil” to David and imagining David singing this psalm when he is back in the field looking out for the sheep – and nothing much has changed yet.  In this situation it becomes a way for David to remember happily being singled out and wondering what the anointing will mean for him in the future. 

THINKING AHEAD:  We assume that everyone knows Psalm 23, but in this day that is not always true, especially for children.  This summer’s stories about David invite worship leaders to connect different verses in the psalm to events in David’s life.  You might even

-          give children small journals with one line of the psalm written on each page.  These pages could be illustrated or journaled on during the summer. Or,

-          challenge children to learn the psalm by heart during the summer.  Offer a small prize for any child (or any worshiper) who can do it.  If an older worshiper already knows it, invite him/her to recite it for the congregation and say briefly why they are glad they know it by heart.”

Ezekiel 17:22-24

This is a parallel to the parables about growth in the gospel.  For children it requires another round of explanations and does not add anything to the parables.  So, I’d read it for the adults or skip it entirely.

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15

On a Sunday with so much rich material for children, I’d skip this psalm too.  Really Psalm 23 makes more sense for this day. 

2 Corinthians 5:6-10, (11-13), 14-17

_This complex logic about life beyond death is for the adults.  Children’s ideas and questions about death tend in other directions.  If you plan worship around this text, click on "Death" in the word cloud to explore other resources and ideas about death that you may want to use with the children.

_Verse 17 offers children an interesting to them idea – “you are a new creation.”  For them it is the promise of endless second chances.  Tell stories of children who go off to camp or join a summer sports team where they know no one and become a different person because no one knows what to expect of them.  They can be “a new creation.”  Insist that God says they don’t even have to go to a place where no one knows them to be a new creation.  Every day they can get up with a fresh start and be a new creation, living as God’s person.  Create a litany in which the congregation responds to descriptions of situations in which we might feel stuck because of what people already think about us with “Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new creation. The past is forgotten, and everything is new.”

Mark 4:26-34

_Celebrate the truth in these parables with the old children’s folk song “Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow.”  The song tells what the farmer does but admits in every chorus “you, nor I, nor anyone knows how….”  Below are links to ta video of children singing and a site with the lyrics.

Kindergarten class singing at Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow 

Find the lyrics at Oats, Peas, Beans, and Barley Grow 

_There are several ways to explore the seed metaphor with children.  If you use any of them take time to work with both sides of the metaphor.  Children have trouble getting the “teaching point” in metaphors.

Show or give each child a seed of one of the flowers being displayed in the sanctuary today.  Ponder how such a small, dull little thing becomes such a colorful, wonderful flower.  Make Jesus’ point that just as the flower grows from the seed, God’s Kingdom grows from each of our little gifts and deeds.

Display a single mustard seed (found in the spice section of grocery stores) and a photo of a mustard tree.  Be amazed that such a small lump can turn into such a big shrub.  Make Jesus’ point that every small thing we do can make such a big difference.  Then, inform worshipers that one little mustard seed doesn’t just produce one bush.  Mustard bushes are weeds.  One quickly becomes several and several soon take over the whole field.  That tells us something else about God’s Kingdom – it is unstoppable.  It is going to fill the whole world.

Cut open an apple. Slice it and core it with the children.  Together count the seeds in it to figure out how many trees could come from this one apple.  (There were five in the one I ate for lunch.)  Then point to one of the seeds and ask, ”If we planted this seed and it grew into an apple tree, how many apples would that tree produce?”  Enjoy wild guesses and the possibility of this many apples every season for lots of seasons.  Marvel at what comes from one little apple seed.  Then go to Jesus’ point that just as much comes from each of our words, deeds, and gifts.  If you have a small number of children, give each child an apple slice to eat.  (I got this idea from someone who couldn’t remember where it came from.  If anyone knows, let the rest of us know.)

_The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, is the simplest of stories about a little boy who plants a seed a waits for it to grow.  Everyone tells him it will not grow, but he keeps tending it, and it does grow into a carrot.  The book can be read aloud in about 2 minutes, but enjoying the pictures might add another minute.  Today it is a child’s version of the growth parables and proof that when small things are done by small people with commitment, wonderful things can happen.