For most children, the reading that will enthral them, and so it should, is only one part of this week’s RCL Gospel reading, Mark verses 13-16. What child does not want to hear that they are welcome especially when there are so many places that they receive the very clear message that they can’t go in or attend because they are not old enough.
Just as importantly it has a very clear message for adults, not just in how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but also it demonstrates a strong social justice picture for adults to emulate in their dealings with children and those that are less powerful then themselves.
In recent times, many congregations have found different ways to welcome children, or some have them participate in the whole service and some have even become Intergenerational, a deliberate act of integrating all ages in all aspects of community living and worship, because of the renewed interest from this passage and similar ones in the other Gospels, along with other readings on children in the Kingdom of God. So, whether children are worshipping in a congregation where they are included or not, this passage is still important for them to hear the word of God itself proclaiming that Jesus called the children to Him and chastised the adults from keeping them from Him. It is a significant passage and in my humble opinion deserves to be read and spoken about on its own.
But it is paired with Mark 10:2-12, a passage that doesn’t have as much of an impact for any listening child. And yet it is a beautifully thoughtful pairing. Let’s remove all modern interpretations of this passage and return to the time it was written, a period in history where men would sit around a teacher, listening and questioning what he is saying, women were not a part of these teaching sessions, so we are to assume that this passage really is for male ears, but I think the women would be very impressed with what was being discussed. Jewish Divorce was easy, a matter of being displeased with your wife for any reason, denouncing her in public and she is left, without her children, without accommodation and without an honourable income. Divorce was just as easy in the dominating culture of the times too.
When I review these two stories, the commonality here is that both passages are about power and the use or misuse of it. Men had the power to keep women safe, and the disciples had the power to decide who approached Jesus. Just as an interesting aside, it is the Mother’s we are told who are bringing the children to Jesus in Verses 13-16, in Jewish tradition it would be the father who presents the child, the male child, at the Temple. In today’s world these speak of social injustices and they are spoken directly to those with the power. If we are too look forward to the application of, especially the first verses, then it is not a teaching on morals so much as a teaching on social justice, on the use and abuse of power and these are still issues that are with us today. If it were not so we would not have seen the significance of the Me Too or the Black Lives Matter Movements. Who are the gatekeepers? Who has the power? Who keeps the children away from Christ’s teachings and being a full participant in the Christian Community? Divorce still leaves women, bereft of housing, superannuation, dignity. Where are other areas of injustice and who are the gatekeepers for them in your community?
Today’s Gospel reading, not just tells the children that they are welcome, it warns everyone of misusing the power they have, and that is a message we all need to hear.
I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.
Some of today’s reading are tough ones even for adults, but that is no reason not to share them with our chidlren, if you allow the story of each reading to unravel without embellishment or moralising from you they will see the truth in the reading at their own understanding level. If they ask broader questions then they are ready for broader conversations about faith. If you struggle with a passage show them that, because in modelling your own struggle you are setting a pattern for them too. When all else fails or possibly start with this PRAY, pray for you as you struggle and pray for them as they struggle, be honest in your praying. Remember that we are in difficult times for us all and the Bible doesn’t hide difficulties in living and neither should you, for there is hope to be found in this great book.
WHO ARE THESE IDEAS FOR?
For anyone looking for ideas to help share God’s word with everyone including the youngest.
Whether you are preparing traditional worship or an all age or Intergenerational service.
OR you are a parent wanting something for your children to use either in face to face or broadcast services, as you parent from the pews or couch
Or during family devotion times.
I use easily found ideas to help you share the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings with children. Instead of sifting through many websites, facebook , pinterest, instagram, and blog posts; this is a ONE STOP SHOP where I have done the sifting for you to find theologically and developmentally appropriate material for your congregation or family.
Though you will find simple ways into the text here THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THOUGH THAT YOU CAN DO IS SHARE YOURSELF AND YOUR FAITH. I firmly believe that it is in the relationship, that the Faith formation of the next generation truely starts. You will notice that there are very few prompts or questions on this page. This is to allow your child to do the thinking and to work out what is important to them from the texts. Sometimes they may give you an insight or even ask a question? There are no wrong insights or crazy questions, and you are enough, enough to listen, enough to work it out together, ENOUGH to share your love of GOD with your child.
Here is a great presentation on children’s spirituality, but most importantly from the 40 minute mark on, it speaks about the imporantance of teaching through story and explains the process I recommend you use with children.
SEASON: AFTER PENTECOST
We are still in the longest liturgical season, the season after Pentecost. This season takes up half of the year, and it’s liturgical colour is green. There are no major celebrations during this season, and some refer to it as Ordinary Time. For me it is a time to celebrate everyday joys, to see God in the ordinary, in the everyday, and to hear the everyday stories of Jesus.
If worshipping at home. You may want to set up a space/alter/focal spot, to bring out when you worship or to keep out everyday.
You can do this by setting up a candle, and add the things that remind YOU of God, a cross, a Bible that everyone likes to read from, a word, a special object, even something from one of the readings.
If able to worship in the Church buildings pack a special backpack, as well as filling it with your Covid Safe equipment, add the books or materials required to help your young ones relate to today’s readings.
For adults and older students you might like to take a journal with which to record anything that grabs your attention during the service. Write a precis of the message (traditional or sensory word), draw or write a response in and keep a record of emotions. You could use a template like this free download
Or for a more Intergenerational approach try Number 1 on the Table Settings album by Liturgical Folks
PRAYER OF THE PEOPLE:Name (this doesn’t have to be the real name it might be how you identify them ie, the kind peron who always helps me get a biscuit after church, or the person who always looks sad) and pray for every member of your congregation or extended family you can recall. A Variation is to draw that person as you pray for them.
FIRST READING: Job 1:1,2:1-10
READ: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
OR Jesus Came to Earth on Awesome God, By Soveriegn Grace Kids
PLAY: re -tell the story of Jesus’s life. Do this by using your toys or making puppets (you might even ask to be allowed to play with the Nativity set). keep the Bible or story book Bible’s closed and see how many stories you can remember or give a shortened version.
OR find mirrors, a pond, or the Baptismal font, Aluminium Foil, or anything else that reflects and look at your reflection in them.
GOSPEL READING: Mark 10:2-16
There are 2 stories in today’s Gospel readigs, but most children’s storybook Bibles only cover Mark 10: 13-16, leaving out all together the first part of the reading. Below is the only childrn’s book that i know of that looks at both readings. Don’t let this put you off tackling the first part of this reading with children, I like to explain it in its cultural presentation, a story for men to think about the consequences of their actions. Leave the moralising out of telling it, and leave the placement of the story in our setting out. You will be amazed how children respond to this type of telling.
Some wondering Questions for you are
I wonder who this story was meant for?
I wonder what you would leave out of this story and still have all you need in it?
I wonder where you are in the story?
Let them respond in craft or play or by writing?
READ: Meet Jesus in Mark, 10:1-22 read the first 3 paragraphs.
SING Jesus Loves Me a version by Colin Buchanan is here You might like this cute snippet here by Carrie Underwood and son
This weeks RCL Gospel reading is Mark 10:2-16. In my NRSV, they carry the headings, Teaching about Divorce and Jesus Blesses the Little Children.
For most in Children and Family Ministry it is another bonanza weekend, not just the lovely child relatable verses on Jesus and the teacher, but the verses on Divorce.
Now many will be tempted I suspect to treat this reading as two distinct readings, erring, probably to the last 3 verses, rather than dealing with the first 11 on divorce or the whole 14.
Divorce, is not a topic any self respecting Child and Family minister can avoid. It happens, it is legal, and some people who have a literal faith find the issue difficult to speak about except in absolutes and complicated grief. Walking with anyone in the messiness of life, especially with children during these occasions, is not just a calling, but a faith response.
As I said in my Tuesday’s blog, taken as a whole this reading speaks to me of the Kingdom of God, where everything is permanent and thus secure and all, including the children are not turned away. (Look at the form and structure of the readings from Mark 8:33 to understand how I’ve reached this conclusion).
Helping families to find secure welcoming environments is the definition of Child and Family Ministry.
This is an occasion when all my “hats” come out, the Grief and Couples Counselling, the theologian, the child and family work, the teacher, and not just in healing broken lives but in helping families stay whole and supported.
To that aim I’m going to share some resources that I have found useful for helping create stable environments. This list is not definitive and I encourage anyone with other resources to share them with others by adding them in to comments this week.
Make sure you are prepared to visit a congregation while on holidays.
These are suggestions only, to help parents/caregivers engage their children in services that use the Revised Common Lectionary. They can be used by parents/caregivers or those who help out in small congregations that can not afford to pay Child and Families Ministry. Some congregations use all 4 readings in their services others only two. Prepare a special church bag in advance each week so that you are ready for the rush on Sunday Morning.
Read during the Bible readings,
Pray during the prayers,
Colour, Draw or Craft during the sermon.
Remember that little ones will need their own space to move and wiggle,
Sit towards the front so they can see what is going on. Craft or drawing or play are for spiritual responses not for a perfectionist piece that can be shown off.
Remember you have bought your child to worship. Enjoy engaging them in it.
You might need to prepare these in advance, and place them in a special Church Bag ready to go for Sunday Morning.
ttps://store.illustratedchildrensministry.com/products/bible-story-coloring-pages-fall-2018 THIS IS A NEW SEASON, AMERICAN FALL OUR Spring . For $10 American dollars (about $Aus 16) you have 12 weeks of colouring sheets. Or you can combine with other parents or ask the Church to make the purchase for yourself and the families.
Make sure you have
Communal play toys such as dolls, or cars or animals
The Early Readers Bible https://www.koorong.com/search/product/early-readers-bible-2001-gilbert-beers/0310701392.jhtml
FIRST READING: job 1:1, 2:1-10
READ: The Early Readers Bible, Love God when Hurt pp.251-255
OR READ?WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6rp0SZX7lg Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No good, very bad day written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz. Really good if you have slightly older children, but i have seen even very young ones stop and pay attention.
also suggested by http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2015/09/year-b-proper-22-27th-sunday-in.html
DRAW: what it feels like when you are having a bad day.
(Shake your head) I’m having a very bad day God
(Big Smile) Glad I can tell you that God
READ in Psalms of Praise
DO: Feelings Cards https://e2epublishing.info/posters/ scroll down until you find them. Print them off then ask your child to show you how this Psalm makes them feel. Don’t be surprised if more than one emotion is suggested.
OR use a paper plate and ask them to draw a face that shows how they feel about the Psalm
SECOND READING: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
READ/WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8prvuE_0qZc Moondance by Frank Ashe
as suggested by http://storypath.upsem.edu/lectionary-links-sunday-october-4-2015/
From our Friends at INtergen https://www.facebook.com/Intergen-125514831561505/?__tn__=kC-R&eid=ARC8CjWK-kKwJl8cWkwEUiUDLLRRmFqRgyBGhjQO-1LB82BBi6xfvkIjLkG4o0XkvAxrk1fNMgI7zaYf&hc_ref=ARQSNCLUW17qG_PZTitvJtCI12js1yKVVwXyx1dN6KsKUtlGDa-TR7sLZHHGd0cbDmY&fref=nf&__xts__=68.ARDyuXmr_Idbe-an4EFT8itBZIIo74PvvdOfpuQERYyaZvsFXGI695HjWbZxHA5ggU_tqCvl06kx0Zwf8zFWpbH2KaBUny2VG2C7-RGMfxiR6YKH6T3MCLUi-J5qCTbdc2OgzsG5bpSMNYgq-F-ggvb1gMTMY2TRdFtn6z_ylYiK24wbk09P
Maybe one to Learn during the week
PLAY: with any community toy, such as dolls house, cars, animals.
GOSPEL: Mark 10:2-16
Most will concentrate on Mark 13-16, as the text on Jesus welcoming the children is often preferred to the teaching on Divorce. No children’s story books Bibles I have access to presents the first half of today’s RCL reading
SO for Mark 10:13-16
READ: THE EARLY READERS BIBLE: Jesus and the Children pp.411-415
OR The Jesus Storybook Bible: The Friend of Little Children p.256-262
COLOURING-IN: https://store.illustratedchildrensministry.com/products/bible-story-coloring-pages-fall-2018 THIS IS A NEW SEASON, AMERICAN FALL OUR Spring
CRAFT: make a paper doll chain, draw on them, faces and clothes. Attach to a A4 heavier paper or cardboard, draw Jesus with his arms out at one end of the paper, then glue the line of people from Jesus until it’s off the page. https://www.parenting.com/article/paper-doll-chain. (or you can buy them at http://riotstores.com.au) sometimes in the Reject shop https://www.rejectshop.com.au
To tackle Mark 10:2-12
To me these two readings placed together, look at what the Kingdom of God is like, all are welcome and all stay together, hence I suggest reading Can I be your dog, about finding an accepting family