Monday, April 13, 2020

Worshiping at Home on April 19, 2020

Worshiping at Home
on the Second Sunday of Easter


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.  This week the gospel story focuses on the resurrected Jesus’ response to all the anxious questions of Thomas and the other disciples.

Set up your worship space.  Today’s gospel has the disciples hiding out after Jesus was killed and not quite believing what the women said about Jesus being alive again.  Decide where you would hide out in your house and hold your worship service there.  Make sure there is enough room for everyone to sit together and enough light for easy reading.  For your worship center have only a candle (battery or lighted) and a Bible open to John 20.

Get ready for a radio play.  The gospel play today has three reading parts – NARRATOR, JESUS, and THOMAS.  Thomas has only 2 lines.  The NARRATOR has most lines and may be best handled by an adult.  JESUS and THOMAS can be managed by young readers – maybe with some coaching as you go.  Print at least three copies of the script at the end of this post.  It may also help to mark parts with a highlighter or crayon.

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 “Easter” or “Jesus” or “Praise” in the topical index to find familiar hymns.  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:

“Praise Ye the Lord!  Alleluia!”

“Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” – simple ideas and repeated Alleluia chorus for non-readers; a good one to sing every Sunday of the Easter season especially if you have instrumentalists

“Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks”

“Jesus Loves Me”


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.”

Sing one or more songs of happy praise songs or Easter songs that you selected as you got ready to worship.

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.


Introduce your Easter play saying that the disciples were behind locked doors because they were afraid, embarrassed and ashamed.  They were afraid of what Jesus would say to them about all their desertions if he really were alive again.  They were afraid the soldiers would come for them like they had for Jesus.  And, if the women were wrong and Jesus was still dead, they were afraid to face people who now knew that they had been wrong about Jesus.  They had been so sure, so loud in proclaiming Jesus and were apparently so wrong.  They did not want to see anyone ever again.  That is why they were hiding in locked room.   But an amazing thing happened. 

Then read the play.

After the play ponder these questions together:
How do you think the disciples felt while hiding in that room? 
What questions do you think they were asking?
How is that the same and different from how we feel “sheltering in place”?
I wonder how they felt when all of the sudden Jesus was standing with them.
I wonder what Thomas felt and thought when he was the only one who was not there.
Why do you think Thomas asked not just to see Jesus but to touch Jesus’ wounds?
How do you think Jesus felt about the disciples unspoken questions and Thomas’ request?

Read selected verses of Psalm 16 with the whole family responding ALLELUIA.  Help them know when to come in by pointing to yourself while you read and to them for the ALLELUIAS.

Selected Verses from Psalm 16

One:   I say “Only you are my Lord!
            Every good thing I have is a gift from you.”

All:      Alleluia!

One:   Your people are wonderful,
and they make me happy, 

All:      Alleluia!

One:   You, Lord, are all I want!
            You are my choice,
and you keep me safe.
            You make my life pleasant,
and my future is bright.

All:      Alleluia!

One:   I praise you, Lord, for being my guide.
            Even in the darkest night,
your teachings fill my mind.
            I will always look to you.

All:      Alleluia!

One:   You won’t leave me in the grave
or let my body decay.

All:      Alleluia!

One:   You have shown me the path to life,
            and you make me glad by being near to me.
            Sitting at your right side,
                     I will always be joyful.

All:      Alleluia!

          Selected verses from CEV

Teachers ask us questions and help us find answers to our own questions.  So, make cards or send emails thanking teachers who have helped you with your questions.  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.


Thank you for Jesus who loves our questions and urges us to find answers to them.
Hear our prayers.
We pray for scientists asking questions about a vaccine for corona virus; for doctors asking what they can do to heal people who have the virus; and for people searching for the equipment these people need to do their important work.
Hear our prayers.
We pray today for teachers everywhere who help us ask important questions and find good answers to them.  We thank you for all their work with us.
Hear our prayers.
We pray for people who ask big important questions with no easy answers and keep searching for answers even when it is hard.
Hear our prayers.
We pray for ourselves and all our questions about what? and when? and how? and why?
Hear our prayers.
And hear us as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray,  Our Father….


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.

? ! ? ! ? ! ? ! ? !

John 20:19-29

NARRATOR:  When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said,

JESUS:  “Peace be with you.”

NARRATOR:  After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.   Jesus said to again,

JESUS:  “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

NARRATOR:  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

JESUS:  “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

NARRATOR:  But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,

THOMAS:  “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

NARRATOR:  A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said,

JESUS:  “Peace be with you.”

NARRATOR:  Then he said to Thomas,

JESUS:  “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”

NARRATOR:  Thomas answered him,

THOMAS:  “My Lord and my God!”

NARRATOR:  Jesus said to him,

JESUS:  “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

                                                                                         From the NRSV

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