Children's Sabbath: Celebrate the Sacredness of Children
*Processional Hymn, "This Is the Day," 657, United Methodist Hymnal
(Children march in and place one of their favorite toys [such as footballs, soccer balls, trucks, dolls, games, stuffed animals, etc.] on the altar, on the floor surrounding the pulpit, or in another highly visible worship space; have an adult standing there to help arrange them.)
Leader: This is the day we gather to celebrate the sacredness of children. We come thanking God for children and longing to keep our young brothers and sisters safe.
People: This is the day we rejoice together as God's children. Some of us are young. Some of us are older. But we all are children of a mighty God. Together we will learn from one another. Together we will praise God!
Celebration of Children's Sabbath Explanation
Today we are observing the Children's Sabbath. The observation was started by the Children's Defense Fund, a group working to bring justice for children all over the world. It is a day to make congregations of many faith beliefs aware of the needs of childre, and call God's adult children to act on behalf of God's younger children. Join us as we worship God.
Children's Sabbath Prayer
(Prayed by one child.)
Jesus, thank you for the special invitation you gave children to come and spend time with you. People who spend time with us care about us.
We love to spend time with you, Jesus, because you never tell us to shut up. You want to know what we are thinking and how we feel. We know we can tell you anything about ourselves and you will still love us, even when we do things that make you unhappy with us. We're sorry.
You don't think anything we say is silly. We can tell you that we are afraid of the dark, or that we want to be animal doctors when we grow up. You hear us when we say we don't want people to know that sometimes we wet the bed. You won't laugh or make fun of us, or tattle to someone else.
This day, Jesus, we pray that you will make grown-ups strong enough and their hearts big enough to look out for all children. We want grown-ups to like us for who we are and not who they want us to be. Help them see the great things you saw in us. Let grown-ups learn from us as we learn from them. Together let us praise you for watching over us! Amen.
Children's Prayer Litany and Candle Lighting
Child 1: We light this candle today for children killed by guns, violence, sickness, accidents, and poverty. We especially remember with sadness the children who were shot in places where they should have been safe -- schools. We light this candle today for all the adults who work for laws to make guns hard to buy. Make our schools, homes, churches and the street safe places for us to be. We also remember the unnamed children killed in war or left without parents because of wars. We light this candle for all children who suffer.
(Lights one candle.)
All: Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Child 2: We light it for adults who make their homes a happy home for children who are not related to them. We light this candle for adults who care for us, teach us, and protect us. Their actions speak louder than their words, and we thank God for them.
(Lights the other candle.)
All: Lord, let us invite the children to come to us also. Give us the care and courage to bless them by our words and by our actions. Amen.
Leader: Hear us now, Jesus, as we pray silently for the children.
Prayer Response (all): Lord Jesus, through you we know that good overcomes evil. Rainy days are followed by sunshine. Show us how to work and pray so that all your children will be safe and blessed.
Scripture Dramatization: Mark 10: 13-16, The Message
(Rehearse the Scripture with the children before the worship service, using The Message. Assign children the following parts, which can be expanded as needed according to the number of children: Narrator, Jesus, Disciples, parents, their children. If there are not enough children, dolls may be used. The dramatization opens with disciples gathered around Jesus, pretending to be talking with him.)
Narrator: The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them.
[Let one set of parents/child approach Jesus, saying why they want Jesus to bless their child. All other action freezes except for the parent speaking and trying to get close to Jesus. Three sets of parents and children should be enough.]
Narrator: The disciples shooed them off. (One or two disciples go to each set of parents shooing them off. Remember: only shooing, not shoving.)
But Jesus was [angry] and let them know it!
Jesus: Don't push these children away! Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in."
(Disciples no longer try to hold the parents back. Parents bring their children to Jesus and ask for a specific blessing. Jesus touches and blesses them out loud. They return happy to their seats.)
Narrator: This ends the reading and enactment of God's Holy Word.
People: Thanks be to God!
*Scripture Sung Response: "He Touched Me" (verse 1), 367, UMH
Young Disciples Time
(Select one of the children to read Mark 10:13-16 again.)
Leader: Jesus welcomed children. He wanted to hear what was going on in their lives and how he could help them. Did you know that prayer is one of the ways we talk to Jesus? This morning I would like for the children to lead in prayer. What is it you want to say to Jesus?
(Before worship, you may consider asking three or four children if they'd prepare to pray out loud in worship.)
(The children offer their prayers.)
Leader: Children, thank you for sharing your beautiful and heart-touching prayers with the entire congregation. We will continue to pray your prayers with you.
(Leader asks children to join hands and prays a brief prayer with them.)
*Recessional Hymn, "Jesus Loves Me," 191, UMH
(Before the hymn starts, and after candles have been extinguished, invite children to retrieve their toys and recess out with them, following behind the acolytes.)
About the Author:: Sherrie Dobbs Johnson is a clergy member of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.
"Mark 10:13-16 from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
Worship Resources for Children's Sabbath/Children's Sunday, Year B" Copyright © 2006, 2009. Sherrie Dobbs Johnson. All Rights Reserved. Posted with Permission on the Discipleship Ministries website.