Looking ahead to the Sundays of January, I have been struck by the insistence of several texts that God works against prejudice and intolerance. On the Second Sunday after the Epiphany Philip must get past his low expectations for anyone from Nazareth before he can meet Jesus. On the Third Sunday after the Epiphany Jonah is astounded when his enemies the Ninevites respond positively to his call to repentance. Given the important discussions about these issues that are current, particularly in the US, I suspect most worship planners will seek ways to address them.
For children prejudice and intolerance often get expressed in name calling. To find solid information about how children think about this, lesson plans for a variety of groups to explore it, situations in which children must deal with name calling, even a fifth graders poem about name calling, go to the No Name Calling Week website. This link takes you straight to the section for elementary aged children. You may also want to check out some of resources for older youth.
It would be possible to develop a “No Name Calling Week” for the children and youth of your congregation. But, it is also possible simply to fold some of the ideas here into worship with the whole congregation. The children benefit from hearing one of their big “issues” taken seriously. Parents benefit from new information and insight into something they often struggle to address with their children. And, adults in general may find insights and strategies that work as well around the water cooler as they do on the playground.
To tempt you to wade in:
“Blow the Whistle on Name Calling” explores names children want to be called and employs the “penalty box” image to identify unwanted names.
Use the directions in “Building a Bully Free Building” to help the congregation fantasize a “bully free church.”
Check out the simple list of the differences between fun and hurtful teasing in “I Was Just Kidding.”
Find one fifth grader’s poem about name calling at the end of “Poetic Reactions.”
Scroll to the end of “What If It Is Not Me?” for scenarios in which children must decide whether to be a bystander or a witness and strategies for making those decisions.