Note: Throughout the evolving COVID-19 situation, we have been reminded (some required) to practice social distancing with “stay-at-home” mandates throughout this country. While it’s important to protect the physical health of ourselves and others, it’s also vital that we embrace our emotional wellbeing and maintain social connections during this difficult time. With the understanding that physical distancing will remove corporate worship as we once knew it, these children’s messages can easily be demonstrated in creative ways through virtual connection and physical engagement only with those around us. We must embrace the core value of our faith and religious traditions to reach out and serve one another as we journey through life. And as we do, we should not abandon our “social” connectedness that we find when we worship.
Take these children’s messages and be creative with the examples provided. Share stories of family parties (find a balloon, paper, and cotton ball in your house) and participate in activities (find a trust partner to stand up) within your own home, while honoring physical distance from others but remaining engaged. Demonstrate understanding of these messages by being creative and using a FaceTime call to show someone else your balloon/paper activity. Make a sheep by drawing a sheep and gluing cotton balls on a piece of paper. Place it in your front windowsill and encourage church members to drive by other families’ homes to look for the cotton balls as a reminder that we all are like sheep. There are creative people out there who are staying personally connected and engaging with others from a safe physical distance. Become those people and come together in these days of isolation.
1 Peter 2:25, New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
25 “You were like sheep wandering away.” (Isaiah 53:6) But now you have returned to the Shepherd. He is the one who watches over your souls.
(Provide each child with a cotton ball.)
Have you ever been lost or separated from your parent? (Share a story of when you were lost or separated from a loved one.)
I can remember when I was a child. My mom and I would always go to J.C. Penney to shop. The children’s clothes area was upstairs. Mom would always take the elevator, as she was never comfortable with the escalator. I was much more interested in riding the escalator. It was exciting and fun to jump on and jump off when you reached the second floor. In those days, it was okay for mom to put me on the escalator, then walk over to elevator, and meet me on the first floor. Each time I did this, I always reached level one first; and when I jumped off the escalator, I couldn’t find my mom. The jewelry department was at the foot of the escalator and when I discovered that mom wasn’t there yet, I cried. The clerk at the jewelry department consoled me, offering hope that my mom would be there in a minute. I never believed her. But I can remember the feeling of joy when I saw my mom and knew that I was safe.
This passage from Peter’s letter describes us as sheep who have wandered away or have become lost from their shepherd. The shepherd watches over and protects the sheep. I am reminded of that feeling of separation from my mom and the feeling of joy, hope, and love that I experienced when I saw her again.
Take this cotton ball and feel it. Does it remind you of a sheep? Take it and put it in your pocket as a reminder that sometimes we may feel lost, but we know that God protects us and watches over us because God loves and cares for us.
Loving and Protecting God, we thank you for watching over us. Sometimes, God, we think we have all the right answers; and sometimes we make bad choices. Remind us through your constant love, how much you do love us, even when we get lost. Amen.