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1 Kings 3.5-12; Psalm 119.129-136; Romans 8.26-39; Matthew 13.31-33,44-52

Outline act of worship for all ages

All-age worship ideas that offer an outline for worship with choices at various points. 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 waiting and trusting.

Gather

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

All age act of worship Session

Slow down

  • It is, for many, school/college holiday season. Invite people to share their holiday experiences. What is different about being on holiday? How does being on holiday make you feel? And when it is over? The root of the word is, of course, ‘holy day’ – which implies time spent with God. How does it feel to spend time with God, and afterwards?
  • Some people may talk of holidays as a time to reset, to focus on what is precious and worthwhile in their lives. Some may speak of time spent with God in a similar way. Time, perhaps, to notice the things of God – which are around us all the time, but often are obscured by the busy-ness of life.
  • Today, we explore how, when we slow down and pay attention, we may begin to see the things of God more clearly. Waiting and trusting are important conditions for it to happen.

Call to worship

We look for God in the dramatic.
We discover God in the ordinary.
Invited by God to slow down,
we freshly open our eyes to slowly see
God’s life breaking into our awareness, all around.

A gathering prayer

Loving God,
thank you for the wonder of our interconnected universe,
sustained and held in being by your love.
Tiny seeds nurtured by earth, that grow into great scrubs,
sheltering creatures.
Barely visible yeast cultures leavening flour for bread.
Treasures that make life precious and joyful.
Wisdom handed down to us, freshly understood.
Your reign breaks in around us in so many ways;
help us to see and rejoice.
Amen.

 

First impressions

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

Click on the image to view a larger version
or use the Jump menu to go to This week's images.
For artist's details, see this issue's illustrators.

 

Questions

  • How does it feel to be waiting and trusting?
  • What everyday examples might you use to describe the kingdom of heaven?
  • What is your part in making it a reality?
Share the Word
All age act of worship Session

1 Kings 3:5-12

Introduce the reading by displaying a figure contemplating a pearl, sitting beside ‘the cup of salvation’. Say that, ‘The pearl is of great value to the figure; but is that value more or less than that of their salvation?’

Then before the reader begins, say, ‘In our reading today, God asks the young Solomon what gift he would like God to give him. Listen carefully to how Solomon answers and think what gift or quality you would like God to give you – and why.’

 

Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

Take some tiny seeds in your hand to show around; or pass round a bag of the seeds and invite people to take a few. Invite people to think about the seeds and what they can become: ‘Mustard plants can grow up to six metres high and wide. At the time of Jesus, Pliny the Elder wrote that they were valued for being good for the health with their pungent taste. They were also seen as a weed. Once they were sown, it was difficult to stop them, because the seeds germinated almost at once. As you listen to the Gospel reading, notice how the images described affect your heart. If not a seed, what image would you choose to describe the reign or kingdom of God?’

Explore and respond

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

All age act of worship Session

Active worship

Sow it begins

Meditate on the parable of the mustard weed

You will need: a large mustard plant painted onto a sheet of paper (e.g. a piece of wallpaper), or a prayer tree made from branches in a large pot of sand.

  • Display the image or draw attention to the prayer tree. Read Matthew 21:31-32. Invite people to close their eyes and imagine the tiniest of mustard seeds sitting in the palm of their hand. This seed is blown by the wind, landing in earth. There is warmth. There is rain. The seed starts to breaks open. It grows…and grows…until it is huge…and flowering…and shedding thousands more seeds into the wind. It is relentless and unstoppable.
  • After a few moments to let people follow their imaginations, explain that Jesus gave this as an image of God’s reign of love. Tiny seeds of love germinating all over the place, relentless and unstoppable. What we must do is wait and trust. Open your eyes to see. Keep one eye on the mustard plant (image or prayer tree) as we explore God’s unstoppable kingdom today; we will come back to it shortly.
    W E S

 

Crafting creatures

Make leaves for the mustard tree or prayer tree (see Sow it begins above)

You will need: leaf shapes, crayons and/or other craft materials, glue sticks or sticky tape.

  • Invite people to go outside for about 10 minutes, and to look around carefully, noticing different birds or insects, trees and plants, people, buildings or spaces – whatever is there to be seen. And, as they do so, to be aware also of themselves looking.
  • After people return to their places, remind them that everything they saw, including themself, has its place as a treasure in God’s kingdom. Invite them to create an image on a leaf shape to represent something they saw outside. Fix this to the tree image or prayer tree as a sign of thanking God for what is represented on the leaf.
    W E S A

 

A poem, a picture and a parable

A reflection on hidden treasure and priceless pearls.

You will need: copies of the poem, ‘The Bright Field’ by RS Thomas.

  • Display the image of a figure contemplating a pearl (see Share the Word). Ask someone to read the poem. Ask someone else to read Matthew 21:44-45.
  • Give people time to let the poem, the image and the parables speak to them of God’s kingdom or reign.

These questions may help: How does waiting and trust come into this? What for you is the hidden treasure in the field or the pearl of great price? What price do you need, or would be willing, to pay?

  • Invite everyone to share their thoughts with another person, and to make another leaf for the tree (see Crafting creatures).
    W E S A

 

Leaven the lump

Make bread as you reflect on Jesus’ parable.

You will need: mixing bowl(s), jug(s), spoon(s), baking tray(s), plus bread-making ingredients (at its simplest, bread mix and water).

  • You could organise this as a demonstration from the front, with perhaps several young people to assist; or you could set up several stations where appropriately sized groups can work together.
  • Ask someone to read Matthew 21:32. Then mix the ingredients and make bread as per the instructions you are using. Let them rise for the rest of the time you are together. Invite people to reflect on this process and, given Jesus’ use of it as an example of God’s kingdom, what it tells you about how God works in your community.
  • At the end, take the dough home and freeze it; then bake it just in time to bring it back next week. Again, this might be done by one person, or, if in groups, each could be responsible for its own loaf. Or, if you have the facilities, it could all be brought back next week for baking.
    W E S A

 

A prayer for all ages together

For this body prayer, invite people to sit comfortably,
feet on the floor, hands in their laps.

Pause for a few moments after each line.
The optional actions, where given, may be helpful for younger people.

Feel a sense of your body. (wiggle your bottom)
Your feet on the floor. (tap your toes gently)
Become aware of your breathing. (listen to your breath)
As you breathe in, imagine it is God breathing life into you.
Hold that breath and remember who you are – a child of God.
As you breathe out, imagine it is God’s love flowing from you to those around you.
Remember your hands, feet and love are useful to God.
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
  • Invite people to share their discoveries with a neighbour:
    What treasure or pearl have they uncovered?
    What have they learnt about waiting, seeing or trusting?
  • You could also invite them, if they wish, to turn this into one final leaf for the mustard/prayer tree.
    W E S A

 

A sending out prayer

Loving God,
thank you for your reign breaking in, all around, for those with eyes to see.
May the light of your love be focused within us.
May we create space in our hearts to treasure it.
And may we be of service to your love, now and always.
Amen.

Go with God 24/7

Encourage everyone to put their faith into action

Try to plant little seeds of love among your family, friends and neighbours – small gestures or acts of kindness, or similar. Wait, trust and see what grows out of these actions of kindness.
W E A

 

Thrive

Give out the
Thrive resource
to encourage
faith at home.

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