How do we speak with children in our church?
How do we provide opportunities for the voices, the words, of our children to be heard in worship?
Our words matter to their faith development. And their words matter to our faith development!
Newest ‘Children’s Messages’ posts . . . (images link to posts)
Various factors can engender either a positive or a negative mindset in a young child regarding skin colour and associations with different colours of skin. Part of this process is a reflection of cultural language patterns. The English language has many more positive definitions for ‘white’ than for ‘black.’ Parents can offset this reality by offering positive images for dark colours and avoiding negative ones. In their book ‘The Black Child,’ Dr. Phyllis Harrison-Ross and Barbara Wyden give specific suggestions for parents of Black children, some of which apply to all parents. Following is a brief excerpt from their guidelines:
‘I like to see mothers pat a child’s cheek and say, ‘You’ve got a beautiful brown skin.’ I like to see a wife rub cheeks with her husband and say, ‘You’re as Black as an African King.’ Or a father tell his daughter, ‘You’re just about the same colour as Aretha Franklin…’
“Make you child colour-conscious. Explain how people come in a variety of colours. And how much people like colour. Talk about what colours he or she likes the most. ‘Would you like a red sweater or a blue sweater?’ ‘Do you want to wear your yellow socks this morning?’ Yellow’s a bright happy colour like the sunshine.’ …You child should come to understand that there are many shades of color in this world and that all of them have their place. ‘Oh, you don’t like brown? That’s strange. I always think of brown as the colour of the good earth that gives us our food and all the flowers we like. And I think of brown as the colour of chocolate milk, and I know you like that, don’t you?’
“And black? It’s easy to avoid talking about the colour black, but it’s not a good idea. Show your child the night sky and talk about how the stars shine in the velvety black sky, just like diamonds or pieces of glass. Or talk about the black ink that comes from the pen and the black print of books and how black has always carried messages to people, given them ways to learn and think. If you have a black telephone, there’s no reason why you can’t refer to it as ‘my Black friend who keeps me in touch with the world.’”
Another way to look specifically at the skin colour question for children is to be very intentional about describing differences in skin colour — all with positive associations:
Some people are black like ebony wood.
Some people are light brown like roast turkey.
Some people are pink like bubble gum.
Some people are brown like chocolate cake.
Some people are white like vanilla ice cream.
Some people are yellow like a ripe pear.
Some people are reddish brown like cinnamon rolls.
Some people are tan like peanut butter.
A children’s message posted on Worship Words, uses the above poem to illustrate Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness….’”
From an article by Kathleen McGinnis published in Parenting for Peace & Justice, circa 1989; an excerpt from the book Starting Out Right by McGinnis and Oehlbeg.
An alphabetical listing of all resources for Children’s Messages:
New Post August 2021
I have something in my bag…. (Take out a welcome sign or the word ‘Welcome’ printed on a piece of paper.)
How do you make someone feel WELCOME?
Who here at our church who tries to make people coming to church feel welcome?
What do they do to make people coming to church feel welcome? [say hello; give them a hymnal; offer tea; introduce themselves; sharing with them.]
In Zimbabwe, where I used to live, there is a special way to greet people. There we shake hands in a special way, to say WELCOME. To say, “You are safe here.”
Explain: There are many snakes in Zimbabwe. And many of them are… poisonous! So many people carry a big heavy stick, called a Knobkerrie, to protect themselves. And sometimes when people were fighting, they would use a knobkerrie as a weapon.
When the people greet one another, they use a two-handed handshake. They still shake with one hand, and the other hand grasps the wrist of the shaking hand, so they are clasped together.
What would a person have to do with their big knobkerrie in order to shake hands with both hands?
Yes, they would have to put it down.
When a person shakes with both hands, they are saying, “I have no weapons; you are welcome—safe—here.”
Shake hands, in the Zimbabwe style, with each child.
It is important that we are welcoming, to help other people feel safe and part of the group.
PRAY with me.
God, thank you for showing us how to be welcoming and friendly. May we always be messengers of peace. Amen.
A new post is scheduled for August 2021.
New Post on 1 Feb 2021
I have something in my bag. (Take out a broken bowl.)
1. What’s this? broken bowl
2. Have you ever broken something?
3. How did you feel?
4. Have you ever broken something your mum or dad told you to be careful with?
5. What happened?
6. Even when we do something wrong, our parents still love us.
7. And even when our parents are angry with us and punishing us, God still loves us and God watches over us.
Pray with me.
God, thank you for our mums and dads who love us even when we break things. Thank you for loving us, too. Amen.
Lectionary: 20 July 2014
(New post scheduled for Sept 2022)
Bible: Luke 15:1-32
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 you find it? saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’…
Using these pictures, tell the story of a little girl who becomes separated from her mother/aunt/sister. She doesn’t know what to do or where to go. Her mother/aunt/sister looks for her until she is found.
How do you think the little girl feels when she cannot find her mother/aunt/sister?
How do you think her mother/aunt/sister feels when she cannot find the little girl?
How do you think they feel when they find each other?
Have you ever lost something and had to look very hard to find it? How did you feel when you found it?
God, thank you for the love that motivates us to not give up, like the mother who kept looking for the little girl until she found her. Amen.
Picture 1: Girl at school
Once upon a time…a new girl comes to school.
Picture 2: Map of UK (or relevant country) with arrows from old home (Edinburgh) to new home (London)
She comes from far, far away. She talks differently. She dresses differently.
Picture 3: Girls jumping rope
What are they doing? (jumping rope)
Who knows how to jump rope?
The new girl does not know how to jump rope which is the favourite game the children play.
And when they teach her, she is not very good at it.
Picture 4: (angry girls calling new girl names)
Because she’s new and different and she doesn’t know the games and she’s not very good at them, the children call her names.
How does the new girl feel? How do you feel if other children call you names?
Picture 6: (none)
Picture 7: WORDS MATTER!
Words matter. They are important. Once the words are said, can you put them back inside your mouth? Can you make them to not be said?
Picture 8: I love you; I hate you
Think of the difference between these two sentences:
I love you.
and I hate you.
When you hear ‘I hate you,’ how do you feel?
When you hear ‘I love you,’ how do you feel?
Which feels nicer?
Picture 9: The Bible
Long ago a man named James writes in the Bible that words are powerful. He says we should be careful with our words. He says be quick to listen, be a good listener, and slow to speak. Be careful and thoughtful of our words before we say them.
My mum used to tell me, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything…at all.’
Picture 10 (Hold up picture 4 or 6 again)
What can these two girls do to change this story? to make the new girl feel welcome? What can they do to be nice? (say friendly and loving things)
Pray with me.
God, we are sorry for when we have used mean words to hurt people. Help us be friendly to people we meet. Amen.
(New post scheduled for November 2021)
Picture 2: Grasshopper & Ant
+The grasshopper sees an ant working hard carrying something.
+ The grasshopper calls to the ant, ‘Yoo hoo, come dance while I play my fiddle.’
+ The ant says, ‘I cannot stop right now. I am toooo busy working.
Picture 5: Grasshopper and Ant turning away
+ ‘Oh bother,’ says the grasshopper. This is summer. Winter is months away.’
+’Sorry,’ says the ant, ‘but I must make sure my family is prepared for the winter.’
+ With that, the ant continues her work gathering ant food.
+ The grasshopper contines to play.
+ What do you think happens? [Let children guess.]
Picture 6 (Sorry, it’s missing.)
+ Ant snug in her ant hill burrow, with the cupboard full of food.
+ And grasshopper? In his burrow, but hungry because the cupboard is bare.
+You must be ready says Jesus. You must be prepared.
Have a child read the scripture passage aloud:
Jesus teaches his disciples about being ready. He tells them, 'Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Therefore you must be ready. Be prepared.'Matthew 24:42,44
How do we prepare for Christmas?…. with trees, special foods, lights,…
And we prepare for the love of Christmas, for Jesus, by living each day as if he is here.
It is a puzzle, but we believe Jesus is with us in a very special way.
Pray with me.
God, we are looking forward to Christmas coming soon. As we prepare for Christmas, show us how to prepare our hearts for your love. Amen.
I have something in my bag.
(Take out the cross I carry in my purse.)
What’s this? [cross]
Do you see any others? [look around worship room]
What does a cross remind us of? [Jesus]
I carry this cross to help me remember Jesus, when I’m not in church.
Do you ever get angry?
At what or at whom? [Allow children time to respond.]
I get angry, too. And sometimes when I’m angry, I’m tempted to be mean.
So, I get out this cross and I just hold it to remember Jesus, and to remember to be thoughtful and loving, not cruel and mean.
I have something else in my bag…a cross for each of you.
Now you can keep your cross with you to remember Jesus, and to help you be the best person you can be.
Pray with me.
God, thank you for reminders to help us do the right thing. Amen.
I have something in my bag.
What is this? [a globe]
Where are we? [find location]
I was born in ____________________. Can you find it on the globe?
Where were you born?
Can you find it?
What about your mums and fathers? Where were they born?
Let’s find those countries on the globe.
And your grandparents?
We come from many places.
And today we are all here at ________________ Church.
Why have we come from so many different places to be here today?
[Allow time for children to ponder aloud.]
We are all part of God’s family!
And each Sunday morning we have a family re-union.
No matter where you are, you are always invited to the re-union of God’s family every Sunday!
Pray with me.
God, thank you for having such a big family, big enough for all of us and anyone else who wants to be part of it. Thank you for bringing us together today for this amazing family re-union. Amen.