GETTING READY TO WORSHIP TOGETHER AT HOME
When a family that includes children worships at home, it will look more free form than what happens in a sanctuary. Especially HEARING THE WORD will be more active. Children explore God’s word with eyes, voices, hands and even feet as well as their ears. Within this free form it also good to have a few rituals that are repeated every week. You will find suggestions for both ways to hear God’s particular Word each week and rituals that surround it every week. Over the weeks, every family will develop their own worship style. With that in mind check out the worship preparations and the worship plan focused on two stories that will be new to children and possibly to you, but which fit this needs for hope as we settle in for a long haul with COVID-19.
Set up your worship space. The color for the Sundays leading up to Easter is purple. So, find purple clothes to wear and maybe a piece of purple fabric to spread over a small worship center. Add an Bible open to Ezekiel 37. Add a candle and maybe a flower. Set up chairs in rows or a circle. Or, sit around a table or simply wherever feel right (the floor maybe).
Gather supplies to make a HOPE prayer poster. You will need a large piece of paper and one dark marker and one bright marker (maybe orange). On one side of the paper write OH NO with the dark marker. One the other side of the paper write HOPE with the bright marker.
It is possible to worship together without singing at all. But if your family sings together, decide before worship what you will sing. Sing whatever songs about Jesus and God your family knows. If you have a hymnal, look up “God” or “Jesus” or “Praise God” in the topical index to find familiar hymns. Today look up Hope and Holy Spirit in the topical index to find songs you know well enough to sing together. If you have instrument players, choose the songs enough ahead that they can practice and play along as you sing. If you have recorded music sing along with your favorite singer. Some songs to consider:
I’m Going to Sing When the Spirit Says Sing
Spirit of the Living God
Breathe on Me Breath of God
Canto de Esperanza/Song of Hope
Psalm 130 requires a reader leader and a motions leader. Two people could do it on the spot as you worship. Or, two could prepare ahead for a smoother more worshipful reading with motions.
WORSHIPING GOD TOGETHER
CALLING YOURSELVES TO WORSHIP
Keep it simple and repeat it each week. It becomes a way to say we are getting started now.
“Come, let us worship God together.”
SINGING FOR GOD AND JESUS
Sing one or more songs of happy praise that you selected as you got ready to worship.
TELLING GOD WE ARE SORRY AND HEARING THAT GOD FORGIVES US
A parent reminds the family that each one of them have things they need tell God they are sorry about, maybe from the last week, maybe from a long time ago. Allow a full minute of silence for everyone to close their eyes and talk to God about the ways they have messed up. The same parent then says, “Look at me. God promises us that whenever we mess up and are truly sorry, God forgives us. God always loves us no matter what. Because God loves us no matter what, we can love each other no matter what. So…” Pass the peace as you do in the sanctuary if you are all healthy.
HEARING AND EXPLORING THE WORD
A story from the Old Testament
Ezekiel spoke to people who had been captured in war and taken to a foreign country. They felt like old dry bones. Ezekiel wanted them to know that God was still with them and that their awful situation would not last forever. Many of us sheltering in place for who knows how long need to hear and savor Ezekiel’s message. To savor it add sound effects to the reading. Find measuring spoons to jangle, boxes of rice of beans to rattle, even a plastic spoon to bang around in a metal pan to make the sounds of the bones coming together. Blow through your lips to make the sound of God’s spirit bringing the bones to life. You may want to read this story once to practice and again to enjoy.
I felt the powerful presence of the Lord, and his spirit took me and set me down in a valley where the ground was covered with bones. He led me all around the valley and I could see that there were many bones and that they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal man, can these bones come back to life?”
I replied, “Sovereign Lord, only you can answer that!”
He said, “Speak to the bones. Tell these dry bones to listen to the word of Lord. Tell them that I, the Sovereign Lord am saying to them that I will give them muscles, and cover them with skin. I will put breath into them and bring them back to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
So I spoke as I had been told. While I was speaking, I heard a rattling noise and the bones began to join together. (Add rattling bone sound effects). While I watched, the bones were covered with muscles and then with skin. But there was no breath in the bodies.
God said to me, “Mortal man, speak to the wind. Tell the wind that the Sovereign Lord commands it to come from every directions, to breathe into these dead bodies, and to bring them to life.”
So I spoke to the wind. (Add blowing wind sounds.) And breath entered the bodies and they come to life and stood up. There were enough of them to form an army.
Then God told me that the people living as prisoners of war were like the bones and that they too would one day live again. I am still their God and will bring them back to their homes and find them a new beginning and a new life.
Based on Ezekiel 37:1-14
After the reading ponder a few questions:
How did the people feel when they were prisoners of war?
Are there any similarities to the way we feel today as we face the virus?
What message did God give them through Ezekiel’s vision of bones?
How do you think that message made people feel then?
What might God be telling us today?
A Psalm for today
This psalm needs 2 leaders: one to read the psalm and the other to lead the motions. They may have practiced together before worship or may simply lead the family in the motions while listening to the reader reads the psalm.
Kneeling with heads bowed
Out of the depths of my despair I call to you, Lord.
Hear my cry, O Lord; Listen to my call for help!
If you kept a record of our sins,
who could escape being condemned?
Raise heads to look up
But you forgive us so that we should stand in awe of you.
I wait eagerly for the Lord’s help, and in his word I trust.
I wait for the Lord
more eagerly that sentries wait for the dawn
– than sentries wait for the dawn.
Sitting up tall on your knees
Israel, trust in the Lord,
because his love is constant and
he is always willing to save.
He will save his people Israel from all their sins.
OFFERING OUR GIFTS AND LOVE
This week make cards or write a message to send to your family doctor or some you know who is working hard in the medical profession. When you finish, say a brief prayer giving your card or message to the addressee and to God. Sing whatever song you sing at offering time at church.
PRAYING FOR OURSELVES AND THE WORLD
With the dark marker on the OH NO side of the poster write or draw all the things that are hard about living with COVID-19 (no sports, no seeing our friends, not going to school, being stuck at home, etc.). On the HOPE side of the poster draw or write in orange marker things you look forward to when the virus is over. Pass the OH NO side around the family inviting each person to voice a prayer about one of them. Turn the paper to HOPE and pass the paper around inviting each person to voice a prayer about one of them. Conclude praying the Lord’s Prayer together.
SING ANOTHER SONG MAYBE ONE OF THE SPIRIT SONGS if you wish
Each member of the family says to at least one other person, “Go in peace. God loves you and I love you.” This may be done by going around the circle or with each member of the family saying it to every other member of the family.
Since we will likely be worshiping at home for a while, help shape all our worship by sharing in Comments what worked well for you and what did not work. I will be paying keen attention to these as I plan for future weeks.