All Saints Day with Children and Families

by Melanie C. Gordon

Was All Saints Day a day that John Wesley loved? YES! In a journal entry from November 1, 1767, Wesley calls it “a festival I truly love.” On the same day in 1788, he writes, “I always find this a comfortable day.” The following year he calls it “a day that I peculiarly love.” And, why not love a day that celebrates to lives of children of God? On All Saints Day, United Methodists remember children of God who have passed on. In many of our congregations we light candles, ring bells of remembrance, and call the saints lost in the last year by name. We celebrate the impact their lives made on our lives. For people who recently lost a loved one, this can be comforting or painful. For many children, this may be confusing. How do we make All Saints Day accessible for children who may not fully understand this holy day? All Saints Day is a perfect time to raise children’s awareness of the importance of love and mercy in our lives.

Search The Beatitudes and The Apostles’ Creed with Children

Read the Beatitudes to children from the Common English Bible, the New Revised Standard Version Bible, or the Spark Story Bible. Emphasize that this is where Jesus offers us his expectations for his followers. Within them we see humility, sorrow, meekness, justice, mercy, and peace. God’s blessing will be on those who experience these. Take some time to help children think about the people in the church, in history, in the community, and in their families who are examples of these expectations of Jesus. Ponder some of these questions with children, and follow up with an activity.    

Wonderings:

  • I wonder how we might offer hope to the hopeless?
  • I wonder how we might offer gladness to the grieving?
  • I wonder how we might offer nourishment to the hungry? I wonder if nourishment can be more than food and drink?
  • I wonder how we might offer mercy to others?
  • I wonder who we know that is humble? How have we witnessed this? 
  • I wonder who we know who has a pure heart? How do we witness this?
  • I wonder who we know that offers peace to others? How have we witnessed this?
  • I wonder who we know that stands up for what they believe, even when they are bullied by others?

Activity Starters:

  • Share stories about these saints.
  • Draw pictures of these saints.
  • Write a note of thankfulness to the saints who are still with us.
  • Light candles for the saints in our lives.

Conversation Starter:

Read the Apostles’ Creed together. Point out the “communion of saints” in the Apostles’ Creed. Help children to see how they are counted in the communion of saints as children of God. Singing the hymn, We Are the Church (UMH #558) together will help children make the connection.

Encourage families to have conversation about the saints in their lives.

Along with the Wonderings above, introduce The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco to families. The story unfolds around a quilt made by the storyteller’s great-grandmother. The life of their family is woven into this quilt that is passed down through generations of celebrations, losses, and transformations. Wonder with children about what is like a keeping quilt in their lives.

Families Create Together:

Families can celebrate the saints in their lives each year by creating something together for storytelling each year.

  • Make a quilt or another art piece that tells their family story
  • Gather items in a box that tell a story of saints they know
  • Create a collage of photographs of saints they know

Reminder: Be sensitive to family dynamics.

An All Saints Poem

I love the poem, For Those Who Walked With Us, by Jan Richardson. In its simplicity, it honors those who we count as saints in our lives. 

Accessible Worship

Invite the children to come to the front of the sanctuary so that they have an unobstructed view of this ritual.

 

Categories: Worship with Children, Special Days, Family Ministries — General Resources

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