Pentecost -- Ordinary Time -- Service Prayers

To Change the World, Welcome the Children
Service Prayers for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Centering Meditation  …[I]t is absolutely impossible for someone who has grown up in an environment of honesty, respect, and affection ever to feel driven to torment a weaker person in such a way as to inflict lifelong damage. [This person] has learned very early on that it is right and proper to provide the small, helpless creature with protection and guidance; this knowledge, stored at that early stage in…mind and body, will remain effective for the rest of this life.

                                                                                                  Banished Knowledge, Alice Miller


Call to Worship

One:     Jesus challenges us in today’s gospel:

Many:   Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.

One:     Then Jesus took a little child and put it among them;

            and taking it in his arms, he said to them:

Many:   Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

            And whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.  

One:    We are still learning today what Jesus came to teach us two thousand years ago.

            To change the world we must change the way we love and welcome all children!

Many:   May we learn to love all children as if they were our own!

One:    Will all the children present please lift up your voices so all of us adults can hear you? --Say your name and say “Hello!”

Children: Say their names and “hello”--a happy chaos moment!

All:      Welcome, children!



            Dear God,

            Jesus has called us to welcome children as a way to welcome you.

            So please, dear children in our midst, hear our voices:

            We welcome you in the name of Jesus Christ! 

            And please, dear God of compassion and justice, hear our voices:

            With the presence of our children we welcome you!  

            Teach us the way to make the last first and to be servants of all.  

            Guide us in your way of humility and service.

            Show us how to become disciples of Jesus Christ

            your Child and our brother.

            We ask for blessings on all your children in our holy family.  Amen.


Call to Confession

            Let us think about all the children in our own lives, our community’s life,

            and in our world.  What are their needs; where do we fail as individuals and community in welcome, nurture and care for them?  (Silence)


Prayer of Confession

            Dear God,

            We often have not welcomed the children as Jesus has commanded.

            Too many children in our community and world

            suffer from violence, abuse, neglect and poverty.

            We know that if we were to join together to welcome and care,

            to celebrate and honor our children we would save ourselves and our world.

            We need forgiveness. We want to make amends. We want to change.

            We want to learn to welcome all children, for in loving and caring for them,

            we welcome your reign of justice and peace.


Assurance of Pardon

            We give thanks for our savior and teacher Jesus Christ,

            who was born among us as a child needing nurture and care,

            and grew to reveal your power to make all things new.  

            We give thanks and rejoice that in Christ we are forgiven

            and given strength to grow in discipleship.  Thanks be to God!


Call to the Offering

            O God, you who have given us life, you who have made every child a holy child,

            we give you thanks. May we open our hearts now and give generously to you

            and to your church - for the sake of the children who are our future.  



            Go forth and welcome all God’s children,

            making the last, first, and becoming a servant to all. 

            Like Jesus, take a little child and put her among you;

            take her into your  arms, and remember,

            Whoever welcomes one such child welcomes God!

            Go forth to change the world as Jesus has commanded by

            offering welcome, justice and compassion to all children and to the “least of these.” 

            Go forth in God’s welcome and love.


Children’s Sermon

Ask for the children to come to the center of the church which is probably not the            

place the children’s sermon is usually given. Share that you are going to reenact the            

scene in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus puts the children in the center,            

symbolically, in order to teach us how to put children into the center of our            

discipleship.  Pass out hats you have pinned the words of continents and ask the            

children to wear them so they will symbolize all the children on the planet:  

            North America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Australia.

Bring a chair and sit down and ask one of the children who feels comfortable to            

come sit on your lap.

            Ask the adults in the church to repeat these lines after you:

            “Jesus said, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’”           

            (Congregation repeats)

            “’And whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’”

            (Congregation repeats)

            Ask the children to repeat after you:

            “I am a child of God and welcome in Jesus’ church!”  

            (Children repeat)

            “God loves me and wants me to feel welcome in God’s church.”

            (Children repeat). 


Passing the Peace

            As a sign of God’s welcome to all, let’s have our children lead us in passing the peace of Christ in the congregation:  Children, go around the room and shake hands with as many adults as you can reach!  Say:  “You are welcome in Jesus’ church!”




To Change the World, Welcome the Children: Service Prayers for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost was written by the Rev. Bonnie Tarwater, pastor of the Congregational Church of Lincoln City, Lincoln City, Oregon. 
Copyright 2009 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.


Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115