Change text size: A A A Change contrast: Normal Dark Light
Numbers 21.4-9; Psalm 107.1-3,17-22; Ephesians 2.1-10; John 3.14-21

Outline act of worship for all ages

All-age worship ideas that offer an outline for worship. Individual items can be used alone or as part of your own worship design.

Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to find Prayers, Hymns and other resources; see also Sermon ideas and Thought for the week.

 

This week we explore trusting in something eternal.

 

Gather

Use the activities and prayers to gather the group and introduce the theme

All age act of worship Session

A pen and paper exercise

Thinking about the choices we make in our lives.

  • Ask people to think about choices they have made this week. These could be simple choices (e.g. what to eat) or something more difficult (e.g. how to deal with a difficult situation at work/school).
  • Alternatively, prepare a large selection of images – people, animals, scenes, anything at all – and ask people to choose one image.
  • Invite people to share their choices, saying whether it was hard or easy, and what guided or influenced their choices. Is it the choice itself that was easy/hard, or explaining why you made it?
  • In today’s worship, we are going to think about choosing who we look to and follow when we make difficult choices in life. We will think about a choice Jesus presented to the disciples: to choose darkness or light.

Call to worship

Jesus was lifted up on the cross so that all could come to him.
Let us choose to seek God in this place today,
keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus
and choosing to follow him.

A gathering prayer

God of creation and order,
be with us as we gather for worship.
Help us to think carefully
about the choices we make and the people we look up to.
Lead us in the confusions and temptations of this world.
Teach us to look up to the light of your Son, Jesus Christ,
for guidance and inspiration.
Amen.

 

First impressions

You could also use the image and following questions to help introduce the theme.

 

  • How does looking up at the light through the trees make you feel?
  • How might ‘the light’ speak to us of something eternal?
  • How can we show that we live in the light rather than the darkness?
Share the Word
All age act of worship Session

Numbers 21.4-9

Use ‘hot seating’ to explore the complaints of the people of Israel. Place a seat centrally, and invite someone to be Moses, sitting in the ‘hot seat’. Ask everyone else to imagine that they have been wandering in the wilderness for a long time. They are tired, bored, hungry and thirsty. They need reassurance that they have made the right choice in following Moses. Invite some people to express their complaints to Moses (e.g. ‘I’m sick of these snakes’; ‘my feet hurt’; ‘are we nearly there yet?’). Moses tries to argue that things aren’t as bad as they seem (you could provide cards to prompt Moses about the things that God has done – such as provided food and drink, led them out of slavery). 

After a while, give Moses a representation of a snake (a drawing, a toy snake, or a draught excluder!) to hold up. Encourage people to notice that when they look up and focus on the snake, they are no longer looking at themselves or comparing themselves to each other.

 

John 3.14-21

Using a flip chart to record responses, ask people to suggest words associated with darkness and light. Create two mind maps or word clouds – one for the ‘light’ words and the other for the ‘dark’ ones. Are there positive and negative ideas in both sets? Which set contains more positive concepts? Are there any surprises? If light meant too much heat (scorching), would that put us off going to it? If darkness meant cosy (bedtime), would that make us reluctant to leave it? 

Yet, darkness is sometimes used to represent something bad, and light something good. In the Gospel reading, Jesus’ followers (those for whom John wrote his Gospel) are faced with a choice: to carry on getting it wrong (being in the dark) or to look with gratitude at Jesus and to do good deeds (being in the light). We are given the same choice. Let’s hear the reading!

Explore and respond

A sequence of active worship ideas; individual elements can stand alone

All age act of worship Session

Active worship

An obstacle course

Demonstrate the importance of looking up.

  • Set up two identical mini-obstacle courses using chairs, bags, etc. Get two volunteers to negotiate the course: one of them is allowed to look up and around; the other must only look and always down at their feet. They start at the same time. (You could repeat this a few times with different volunteers.) Who is most successful? Why is this?
  • This activity illustrates the importance of looking up and seeing a wider picture. And this ‘rule’ applies in many aspects of our lives – e.g. in order to see/understand how our actions affect others around the world, or the climate.
  • Sometimes we look to other people for an example. Who do we look up to? Are all our role models good ones, or might some of them set us poor examples? If we look up to the wrong person, we may get things wrong!
    E

A prayer for all ages together

Lord of light,
we thank you that you are always near to us.
Help us to look up to you.
When we grumble and moan,
help us to look up to you.
May we be thankful for all the good things in our lives.
Help us to look up to you.
Amen.

A simple worship activity

Coming to the light to say sorry

  • Set up a bright light somewhere in the worship space. 
If possible, turn down the lights elsewhere.
  • Give everyone a small piece of paper and a pen. Ask people to write, or draw an image to represent, something that they are sorry about in their lives (no names, and nothing that would break confidentiality – if this may be an issue, assure people that all the slips of paper will be destroyed immediately after today’s worship).
  • Ask people to fold their paper and, when they are ready, to bring it to the light. Simply place it beside the bright light. When everyone has had the opportunity to do this, continue with A prayer of confession.
    W A

 

A discussion about eternal life

Explore the connection between light and eternal life.

  • Talk of eternal life runs throughout John’s Gospel. But on 
a couple of occasions there is a clear statement about what eternal life ‘is’. Invite people, working in small groups, to search John’s Gospel to find what eternal life ‘is’. If they don’t find them in the available time, point them towards John 12.50 and 17.3. Give each group one of these verses to discuss in more detail, as follows:

    - What Jesus speaks, is eternal life (12.50). So, what (in summary) does Jesus speak? And how does this affect the everyday choices we make between light and dark?

    - Eternal life is to know God and Jesus whom God sent (17.3). So what does it mean in practice to ‘know God’ and to know Jesus?

  • Invite feedback and make a list of practical steps that we can take to show – to choose – to follow something eternal.
    W A

Give thanks

Looking for reasons to give thanks rather than complaining.

  • During the Second World War, a Dutch woman, Corrie Ten Boom, was a prisoner in a concentration camp. One day, she was surprised to hear a fellow inmate giving thanks to God for the fleas that plagued them day and night. Corrie asked how this was possible: how could anyone be thankful for something as horrible as fleas? Her friend replied that the fleas meant that the cruel guards avoided the hut and paid the prisoners less unwanted attention. Corrie realised that even in the darkest situation it was possible to find something to be thankful for.
  • Invite people to share with one or two neighbours something positive that they have been thankful for this week. And, thinking about some of the darker stories from the week, can they identify at least some small crumb of hope, something to be thankful for, in those stories?
    W E S A

 

A litany of thanksgiving

For our world and all its beauty:
we give God thanks today.

For creating us to be his work of art:
we give God thanks today.

For this place and for the life we share here:
we give God thanks today.

For our homes and families, for friends and fun:
we give God thanks today.

For food and warmth, for comfort and safety:
we give God thanks today.
Amen.

 

Activity sheet

Go with God

Consider together what you have explored, what that means for each of you and how it might influence your daily lives

All age act of worship Session
  • We have thought about the choices we made during the past week. We have considered some practical steps we might take now and in the future. Invite people, in pairs, to share insights into how this might affect choices we know we have to make in the coming week. Will we choose darkness or light?

 

A sending out prayer

Lord of light, help us to look to you in the coming week.
Guide us when the way ahead seems dark and full of obstacles.
May we always give thanks, even in the darkest times,
and enable us to shine as lights in the world.
Amen.

 

Go with God 24/7

Encourage everyone to put their faith into action

Look for and/or plan opportunities to put into practice some of the practical steps identified during today’s worship that show we choose light rather than darkness. Review and update your list on a regular basis. 
W E S A

 

ROOTS at home resource

Give out the ROOTS at home resource to encourage faith at home.

 

Spiritual styles abbreviations
WWordEEmotionSSymbolAAction
Read our Spiritual Styles articles
General information and website help
020 3887 8916
ROOTS for Churches Ltd
86 Tavistock Place
WC1H 9RT
Registered Charity No. 1097466
Subscription services
01603 785910
ROOTS for Churches Ltd
13a Hellesdon Park Road
Norwich NR6 5DR
Stay in touch
The ROOTS ecumenical partnership
Bringing together Churches and other Christian organisations since 2002
© Copyright 2002-2021, ROOTS for Churches Ltd. All rights reserved. Print ISSN: 2040-4832 and 2635-280X; Online ISSN: 2635-2818.
This resource is taken from www.rootsontheweb.com and is copyright © 2002-2021 ROOTS for Churches.