Children's Word, Christmas, Christmas Eve

Go! Tell It!

(A Christmas Eve Story    December 24, 2012          Luke 2:1, 3-16; Matthew 2:1-12)

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

It started with the angels.

They didn’t know everything that would happen. They only knew their own part of the story, their own assignment. They were going out to tell the world about a special baby being born.

One of them had the most important part.

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

The angel learned the words well, and that takes practice.

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

(Hang angel on manger.)

The first people the angels told were shepherds. They were out on the hillside, taking care of the sheep. Brrr! It was cold out there. They huddled up together in the dark, keeping the sheep close for warmth. They could see the stars in the sky, just like every night, but suddenly there was a great light! An angel appeared in the sky. They were very frightened.

Don’t be afraid, said the angel.

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

Then even more angels appeared, singing a song, “Glory to God in the highest heaven! Sing a song and praise God! Sing about peace on earth for all people!”

The shepherds got excited. A savior? Born in little Bethlehem? That wasn’t too far away. They ran into town to see.

(Add shepherd and sheep to the scene.)

Now they believed what the angel said:

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

Because there he was, the baby lying in a manger, wrapped in a little blanket. His mother was watching over him.

(Place baby in manger.)

The shepherds stayed and watched as long as they could. Other people came, too. People were talking in Bethlehem. When the shepherds left, they helped spread the word.

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

From the East, a line of camels and people were traveling. The camels had packs on their backs, full of presents. All the way they followed the light of a special star. It led them to the same baby. The gifts they brought were gold and frankincense and myrrh. It didn’t matter that the baby was poor and they were rich. When they saw him, they knelt down. They believed he was the Savior.

(Place the wise men and camels.)

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

All around the world tonight, we are telling the story again, about the baby Jesus, born in a stable. We are telling the story about the angels who sang to the shepherds. We are telling the story about the shepherds who spread the word. We are telling the story about the wise men and their gifts.

Now it’s our turn to share Jesus with the world, because there are people who have never heard, and people who have forgotten. God sent Jesus to the whole world. He came to save us from being sad and lonely. He came to teach us how to love each other. He came to show us how much God loves everyone.

Go! Tell it!

Good news!

Great joy!

Tonight in Bethlehem the Savior is born.

Children's Word, Funerals, John 11:1-45

When Jesus Cried

(Last week I led a Celebration of Life for a woman who was the mother of two school-aged children. After some discussion with her husband and other family members, I suggested we have a Time for Children as part of the service. Here is what I wrote and shared that day.)

Long, long ago, when Jesus was living on the Earth, he had three very good friends, who were two sisters and a brother. The sisters were named Mary and Martha, and the brother was named Lazarus. Now, Lazarus got very, very sick. He was so sick that his sisters were afraid he might die. They sent word to Jesus, but by the time he got to their town, Lazarus had already died. His sister Mary was crying. His sister Martha had been crying, too. They were both very sad, because they loved their brother very much. When Jesus saw them, he cried, too. Crying is a good thing to do when we’re sad. If we didn’t cry, we would still be holding onto the feelings that come out with our tears.

Jesus and his friends cried. But they didn’t just cry. Mary and Martha felt all kinds of upset. Martha even yelled at Jesus! Sometimes when someone we love dies, we feel sad *and* angry. Jesus still loved Martha even after she raised her voice, because that’s how it is between friends. When our friends are sad because someone has died, one of the best things we can do is just listen to how they are feeling.

And I want you to know it’s okay to be angry, just like it’s okay to be sad.  When you feel angry, you can tell someone you trust. Just remember you’re not angry with them! Sometimes when we’re angry – well, almost every time – we can feel it all over our bodies. That’s a good time to go for a walk or a run, or to ride your bike really fast (just be sure you put on your helmet…) or to punch a pillow, or even to ask a grown-up if you can hammer something.

Just be sure to talk to somebody. Even if you can’t tell them too much about why you’re angry, the people who love you will want to help.

You can talk to them, too, if you don’t understand why this happened. I think we’re all wondering about that. We understand that people’s bodies sometimes get sick and don’t get better, but it doesn’t seem fair when it happens to someone who is so kind and loving. I don’t think God likes it either. 

Today we’re going to hear stories about ____ and ____’s Mom, about things she did and people she loved, especially ____ and ____ and their dad. Today those stories might make us cry a little, but the next time we tell them–and maybe even today–we may start to feel like smiling when we remember her. And that’s okay, too. Even today.

God sent Jesus to be with people and help them because God loves us so much and wanted to be closer to us. And God will understand how we’re feeling today, because God remembers what it was like the day Jesus cried about his friend.

One of the ways we can feel closer to God when we’re sad, or we’re angry, is to pray. We close our eyes and make our minds quiet, and then we talk to God. It’s okay to pray out loud or to pray quietly, so that only God can hear. Let’s pray together.

O God, we thank you for loving us, even when we are angry. We thank you for loving us, especially when we are sad. Help us to talk to you and to talk to each other about the way we are feeling. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Children's Word, Writing

Lost and Found

(A few years and several churches ago, I dramatized the Parable of the Lost Sheep to be used on Children's Sunday. It's part of the lectionary texts tomorrow, and I'm going to read the version below as a story for the Children's Word. I'm happy to share this if it's helpful, just shoot me an email. Two suggestions: don't actually read the gospel verses, I have them here for reference purposes; and have a sign to hold up so the children and/or congregation can "Baaa!!!" along with you.)

Now
all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the
Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes
sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you,
having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine
in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he
has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me,
for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be
more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous
persons who need no repentance.
 (Luke 15:1-7, NRSV)

A long time
ago, in a pasture far, far away, three sheep met under a shady tree. Their
names were Cottonball, Whitey and Baab. They greeted each other and commented
on the weather, and then Whitey asked an important question:

“I was just
wondering what happened to Shep? He’s always around, but I don’t see him
anywhere! Have you seen him, Baab?

Baab, who was a
very young lamb, said, “BAAAAAA!!!!!!”

But Cottonball,
who usually knew everything going on in the flock answered, “I heard he went out
looking for Blackbonnet.”

Whitey sighed. “That
Blackbonnet, always wandering off. She is such a silly little lamb.”

And Baab
agreed. “BAAAAAA!!!!”

They all
wondered why her mother didn’t take better care of her and teach her to behave
like a decent little lamb.

Whitey said, “Lambs
should be seen and not heard.”

Cottonball nodded, emphatically. “And I hate to mention it, but what if some dangerous animal should come by and
try to eat us! It’s Shep’s job to take care of ALL of us!”

Whitey agreed. “There
must be 99 of us, and only one little lamb who wandered off. What does one
little lamb matter?”

“BAH!”
exclaimed Baab.

Cottonball had
an idea. “I think we need to call a meeting. SHEEP!!! SHEEP!!!” She gathered
all the sheep together near the shady tree. “I’ve called you all here today to
discuss the current situation involving Blackbonnet. As you know, that silly
little lamb has wandered off. And instead of taking care of us good, obedient
sheep, Shep has gone to look for her!! I say this has to stop!! Do you agree?”

All the sheep
answered with a resounding “BAAAAA!!!!  BAAAAA!!!!”

Cottonball went
on, saying, “When Shep gets back, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind!!
Imagine caring more about one little runaway than the rest of us?!???!!! It’s
preposterous!!!”

All the sheep
agreed, and they said it even louder: “BAAAAA!!!! BAAAAA!!!!”


Good_shepherd
Just then, they
saw Shep coming. “Hello, my friends!!” he called. “Look, it’s Blackbonnet!!!
She’s safe!!!”

Baab was the
first to say, “BAAAA!!!!”

Then all the
other sheep joined in, saying “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!”

Cottonball spoke
up. “Shep, I want to have a word with you.”

“What is it,
Cottonball?” he asked kindly.

“You were gone
a long time looking for Blackbonnet.”

Whitey
whispered to the other sheep, “That’s right, he was.” All the sheep agreed, “BAAAA!!!!
BAAAA!!!!”

Shep explained,
“It took a long time to find her. You see, she saw some pretty flowers and
wandered off, and she couldn’t find her way home by herself.”

Whitey
snickered and said, “I believe that!”

Baab agreed
with him. “BAH!!!”

Really, they
all agreed.

“BAAAA!!!!
BAAAA!!!!”

Cottonball was
just getting warmed up. “That’s just the point, Shep. Here we all were, 99 of
us sheep and lambs, quietly minding our own business, behaving as nicely as
anyone could want. And you went off and left us here!!! You left us all
alone!!!”

“Yes, you
did!!!” said Whitey, louder this time.

Baab said, “BAAAA!!!!”

And all the
sheep said, “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!”

Shep spoke to
her softly, “Now, Cottonball, were you really alone?”

“Yes!”

“Cottonball?”
Shep looked her right in the eye.

Cottonball had
to admit it. “Well, no, I wasn’t really alone, not exactly. But who was going
to keep us safe with you gone, Shep?”

Shep smiled. “I
can’t always be with you, Cottonball. Sometimes you have to take care of each
other.”

Then Whitey piped
up and asked, “But why do you care more about one bad lamb than you care about
the rest of us?”

“When lambs get
lost, that’s when they need me most, Whitey. Don’t you remember the time Baab
got separated from the flock?”

Baab’s ears
perked up. “BAAAA!!!! I remember!!! You helped me!!!!”

Shep patted his
head. “That’s right. I went looking for you just the way I went looking for
Blackbonnet today. I care about all the sheep, the young ones and the old, the
mothers and the fathers, the black sheep and the white sheep. I love all of
you, but sometimes one of you needs me more than the others do. And if I can
find one lost sheep, isn’t that good news for all of us?”

Baab bleated
happily, “BAAAA!!!!”

And all the
sheep agreed: “BAAAA!!!! BAAAA!!!!”

All the sheep
began to celebrate little Blackbonnet’s return. Now they understood that the
shepherd loves all the sheep, just the way Jesus loves all people. And *that*
is the Good News today, for all of us. Amen.