Children's Sermon and Activity 1
BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES
THEME: Even in places that are broken and hurting, Jesus can do more than we can imagine.
PURPOSE: To help children think about how God uses the One Great Hour of Sharing offering to create new and beautiful things out of situations of destruction and pain, like the broken pieces in a kaleidoscope turn and reflect into beautiful images.
SUPPLIES: a kaleidoscope; you can have one as an example, or you can have smaller party-favor kaleidoscopes, so each child can have one.
[OPTIONAL: to use this lesson as an extended activity, have children to create their own kaleidoscopes.]
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 3:20 (International Children’s Bible Version)
SCRIPT Gather the children and show them the kaleidoscope. Who can name what this is I have in my hand? Accept a few answers, until someone identifies it correctly or the answers slow down.
Yes! This is called a kaleidoscope. Who knows what we do with it? Accept answers, affirming correct answers.
LEADER: Have any of you ever played with one of these. What did you think of it? I’ll pass it around in a few moments so you can each take a closer look. First, let me show you the funny thing about how it works. If you look at it from the outside lens, it looks like you just have a bunch of pieces everywhere. Sometimes those pieces look broken! But here’s the trick! If you look at it through the proper eye lens and twist it, all of those shattered pieces turn into beautiful shapes and a new picture. Pass around the kaleidoscope, or pass out the individual ones to each child.
Before you looked into the kaleidoscope, could any of you imagine what the picture could look like? Could you imagine how beautiful it would be? Accept a few answers, as children keep passing the kaleidoscope.
As you twisted it, did you notice how the picture changed to a new shape? Did you have any idea beforehand what that shape would look like? Accept a few answers, as the children keep passing the kaleidoscope.
This kaleidoscope reminds me of our scripture verse today. The verse comes from our friend the Apostle Paul. A long, long time ago, Paul wrote letters encouraging people to follow and trust Jesus. Let’s listen to something that Paul wrote in his letter to members of the church in a place called Ephesus. Paul wrote? “With God’s power working in us, God can do much more than anything we can ask or think of.”
You can repeat the scripture a couple of times, if you want.
Today I want us to think of ourselves as God’s kaleidoscopes – And here’s how…
If we only look at all the scattered beads, it seems like the kaleidoscope was a mess. But when we turned the kaleidoscope, we saw beautiful pictures. This is what God’s power does with us! Sometimes the world can seem like a mess! There are people who feel broken because of disasters, or wars, or because they don’t have enough to eat. It can look like nothing good can happen. But God can make beautiful things, even when the world seems scary or broken. And our scripture verse today says God does that by working through us! When we used the power of our hands to turn the kaleidoscope, we saw a new picture. God’s power can help us be a part of a new picture for people who are in need of help, too!
Today is a special time in our church where we give money to help families and communities around the world whose lives have broken pieces. Our One Great Hour of Sharing offering helps people rebuild their houses and churches after floods and fires and earthquakes. It helps people create new homes when they have had to leave their homes because they weren’t safe. And it helps communities have clean water, healthy food, and schools for their children.
This offering helps us to do more than we can ever imagine to create a new picture for our neighbors around the world-- all through the power of God! Can you imagine how God might use YOU in a new picture for those who are in need?
Let’s close with a prayer-- Amazing God! Help us to be part of the beautiful world you imagine. When people are hurting, scared, or lost, use your power in us to help them. Amen.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Beauty in the Broken Places--Kaleidoscope Creation
Purpose: This activity is an extension of the Children’s Sermon in Children’s Church. Taken together, they can serve as a Sunday school lesson.
Toilet paper or paper towel tube (1 full tube and 1 partial tube per kaleidoscope)
Mylar paper or other reflective cardstock
Beads, sequins, or confetti
Clear plastic (a to-go container works well)
Instructions: For an instructional video on how to make a toilet paper tube kaleidoscope, visit:
1. Cut the reflective paper; width: 4.25”, length: 1/2” shorter than your tube Fold the reflective paper to create a triangular prism, with the reflective part inside.
2. Secure together with tape.
3. Slide the prism into your tube so that one end is even with the tube edge.
4. Use your tube as a template to trace 2 circles on the plastic. Cut out your circles--cut one to the outside of the lines so it is slightly larger and one to the inside of the lines so it is slightly smaller.
5. Slide the smaller circle into your tube so it rests against the prism.
6. Put beads, sequins, or confetti into he tube on top of the plastic.
7. Place your second plastic circle on the end of the tube. Secure with tape.
8. Decorate your kaleidoscope and enjoy!
Children’s Sermon and Activity 2
Gather the children in the space and welcome them.
LEADER: Let’s start with a game. Around the room are hidden some paper clouds. These are very special, and we need to find them and bring them all here! Can you help me?
Encourage the children to search for clouds, and give them to the leader. (Have a cloud for each child.)
LEADER: What do you notice about these clouds? Accept answers until the children notice that some have letters on them.
LEADER: Yes! Some of these DO have letters on them. I wonder what the letters might spell! You can have a child hold each letter in a line, having the rest of the class shuffle the order of the line until they are correct, OR you can put the clouds out on the floor or a table.
LEADER: These clouds spell “imagine.” What does the word “imagine” mean?
LEADER: Well it appears that we have a pretty good idea of what the word imagine means. So let’s agree, imagine means to think of a picture or story in your mind. Perhaps when you close your eyes you can see it. It is like dreaming, but you can see it when you are awake. Let’s give it a try. Let’s all close our eyes and think of something. When I count to three, we’ll open our eyes and share one at a time.
Invite responses from a few children.
LEADER: Those are some amazing things you visualized and imagined! I noticed that some of you imagined something positive and happy. Some of you imagined something [make other observations about their answers]. Some of you imagined something most people would say is impossible. Raise your hand if you think what you imagined can really happen. Those of you who didn’t raise your hands, why do you think what you imagined could not really happen?
Listen to responses.
LEADER: I have a story to share from the Bible about a guy named Paul who prays and tells us that God can do more than anything we can ever imagine. A long time ago, when the church was first beginning, people like Paul, who were called Apostles, shared the good news about Jesus and how we should put our faith in God. Paul liked to write letters to encourage people to be kind, and to put their trust in God. In one letter Paul wrote to the church in the city of Ephesus, Paul chose to add a special prayer to encourage people to trust in God. The prayer ends: “With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. To [God] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21, International Children’s Bible).
That sounds amazing to learn that if we trust in God’s power, God can do more than we can do on our own. God can do more than we can imagine, kind of like what we imagined earlier. Let’s imagine the amazing things God can do when God’s power is working in us to help others.
First, I am going to pass out a cloud to each of you. Then, I want you to draw a picture of something that you think people need help with, but not like putting your toys away. Let’s think about how people feel when it is too much rain, or maybe when they are hungry and don’t have any food.
Give each child a cloud and give time for them to draw.
LEADER: When you’re done flip your cloud over. Now let’s close our eyes and imagine how God’s power could help the people in that situation. Imagine how God could use YOU to do something to help them. I wonder how God’s power in you could do more for those people than they could ever imagine or ask?
LEADER: After you’ve thought about it, draw a picture on the other side. Begin with the sun shining. Next can you show what you could do when God’s power is working in you?
Allow children time to draw.
Once many are completed, invite them to share with the class the side of the cloud that has been affected by damage and then turn to the side where the children have thought of ways that God can use them. You might display the clouds in a prominent area in your church for adults to see how children can show the possibilities of God’s power working through them.
Close with a Prayer. Dear God, Thank you for allowing your power to work through us. Help us to look to you when we need help or when we see other people who need help. Help us to remember that with you we can do more than we could do on our own. Amen.
Compare and Contrast
Too many of God’s children live in hellish conditions. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering invites us to use our imaginations towards a world where fewer of God’s children must live this way. Yet, in our minds, the word “imagine” may be too weak, too puny. Or maybe what comes to our remembrance is John Lennon’s now-iconic song of the same name. (One way into the theme “more than we can imagine” could be to talk about why Lennon was likely disheartened and discouraged by religion.) The lyrics include the words: “Imagine there’s no heaven; it’s easy if you try. No hell below us; above us only sky.” [If the preacher has audio capability, the song could be played (with appropriate license). Or the tune could simply be played on the piano or the preacher says the lines from the song].
While it is, of course, true -- thanks be to God! -- that millions of Christians have found their inspiration in their religion to help their fellow human beings, we must admit that it is also indeed true that religion has too often been the source of strife and even injustice, instead of peace and reconciliation. “Hell” has too often been used as a weapon, and “heaven” has too often been used to dismiss the importance of earthly suffering.
But God’s understanding of “imagine” is different: it is God’s hope that Christians will imagine – and work for – a world where peace, freedom, and justice are more and more a reality for all people. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering invites each of us to give generously and participate in God’s imagination so that people everywhere will live as one.
In much of common English usage, the word “imagine” (and its variants) usually connotes something not really real. “Oh, that’s just your imagination.” “You’re imagining that.” (The preacher has an opportunity here to contrast that ordinary use of the word imagination with God’s use of the word.) The way “imagination” is commonly used is often a dead-end – nothing comes from it. God imagines a world where all might live in peace – and created such, according to Genesis. Paul imagines a world where through Christ all are reconciled to God and one another (2 Corinthians 5:19). John of Patmos imagines a world where there are no more tears, and pain shall be banished (Revelation 21). But God’s imagination always moves towards creation and re-creation. And God’s imagination always invites us to join God as co-creators of a vision of what can yet be: a world where there is less violence, where all people have clean water and decent hygiene, where no one is hungry.
Through our gifts, we can join God in imagining these things and more! We don’t have to be relegated to only imagining, but we can join in by doing our part to make it so.
Help Hurricane Harvey survivors by using this bulletin insert to encourage support for our disaster relief efforts. Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, on Friday, August 25 as a Category 4. The storm has caused widespread flooding and significant damage across southern Texas and Louisiana. It will require a wide response.
An Epic Storm needs an Epic Response
Hurricane Harvey Response
The UCC Disaster Ministries is already engaged in response by supporting partners and planning for recovery. Giving to the Harvey appeal ensures that 100% of your support will be used for disaster relief and rehabilitation targeting the unique needs of vulnerable individuals and families. We do this by being nimble and adaptable in each disaster which allows us to fill gaps in services through provisions of spiritual care, community organizing, repair and reconstruction of homes, tools, building materials and volunteer coordination.
Please pray for continued strength and resolve for those whose lives have been impacted by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey. Please also pray for the First Responders, disaster coordinators, and many volunteers who are working tirelessly to provide relief after Harvey, now and in the days, months, and years to come.
Donate Money. The response and rebuilding will be long-term. Your generous contribution now makes this long-term response possible. www.ucc.org/disaster_hurricane_harvey.
Assemble CWS Clean-up Kits. The UCC has matching grants available, even if you previously assembled kits in 2017: www.ucc.org/disaster_2017_matching_grants_for_cws_kits_home_page
Every loss we experience needs a corresponding period of grieving. The length of time and depth of grief should correspond to the nature of the loss. The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is the same. Some are deeply impacted, with loss of loved-ones, homes, valuables, memories; while others may have been impacted only by images they saw in the news.
Whatever the connection, it is important to know that a loss has taken its toll on many. And it will take many to help those deeply impacted, recover. Let them know they are not alone.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
Let Us Pray
One: O God of mercy and God of grace, strengthen us during this time of turmoil, loss, and grief. Help us to lean on you. Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Help us to provide a helping hand to all who need it. Help us to lend our hearts to the broken-hearted.
All: God in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Make a tear drop/map pin out of colorful paper (instructions below)
Use it as a prop while reading the short script during announcements, in adult Bible study, Sunday school, or fellowship hour.
Have the instructions available with various paper sizes and colors so people can make their own tear drop/map pins as a tangible reminder of the offering
= hold the visual like a tear drop
= hold the visual like a map pin
= In West Timor, a father is crying because his child is hungry
=Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, You are Here for that
father with emergency food supplies and crop storage techniques.
= In West Virginia, a family is crying because their home was flooded…
=Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, You are Here with
that family with support to rebuild their home.
= In Greece, a young woman is crying because she is fleeing from war,
but borders are closed…
= Through the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, You are Here for her
with medical and hygienesupplies and advocacy for her future.
= In times of human suffering and need,
= You are Here for our neighbors through your gifts to the
One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Remind the congregation the date the offering will be received. Tell them they can give during the regular offering by using the special envelopes, or they can write the name of the offering in the memo line of their check. Coin boxes should also be collected on the designated offering day.
How to make a teardrop/map pin:
Fold a sheet of paper in half. Cut on an angle from the folder corner to the top, making the sides thin with a rounded top. Color and use as the prop. You may want to color one side in an exciting color, with the other side a single color.
Have fun with it. If you would like to share how this goes in your setting, take pictures and email your story to email@example.com.
(Communion is included, but optional)
In the midst of suffering, where is God? God is here. Where are you?
When you give to OGHS, you are here.
Scriptures: Matthew 25:31–46, Psalm 145:18, 1 John 3:11–24
We worship a God who gives generously and abundantly. God gives to all creatures their food in due season, and from God’s open hand the desire of every living thing is satisfied.
God has given us so many blessings. The food we eat, the friends and family we cherish, the precious gift of God’s love for us, a love that led Jesus to lay down his life for us.
When that love abides in us, we cannot refuse to help our brothers and sisters in need. Through our regular offerings we... [celebrate the work of your congregation, locally]. Through the special offering for One Great Hour of Sharing, we join with other Christians to make our presence known to people who might feel forgotten—the hungry, the hurting, the thirsty, the sick. Our gifts, together, provide food, shelter, comfort, and safety all over the world.
Gracious God, in our offering we return to you a portion of the blessings you have showered upon us. Bless these gifts, that they might bring comfort, food and shelter to those who need it. Bless those who will receive them. Let them know your love through full bellies, warm clothing, and safe places to sleep. Amen.
Charge & Benediction
We worship God in sanctuaries, in beautiful, holy spaces. But Christ has told us that if we want to find him in this world, we will seek out the lost, the least of his brothers and sisters—those who are hungry, thirsty, sick, in prison, naked and estranged. May we go forth this day with eyes open to seeing Christ in our world, and may we know God’s love by loving one another. May we love, not just in word and speech, but in truth and action.