A colleague and I talked today about the earthquake in Haiti and pondered how to talk about such natural disasters with children. Questions of theodicy “why did God let all those people die?” and coping “why are my Haitian friends crying?” might be on their minds.
I don’t usually bore people with worship resources (this blog has a very mixed audience) but I thought I would share for those of you that are interested. Here’s two possible starters for a Children’s Sermon on Sunday…adapt/reject/rewrite as you see fit.
Note: they are written verbatim in my personal voice which may/may not be yours.
#1 Focus on expressed coping behavior of crying:
“You know what, I’ve been crying a lot this week. Anyone else cry alot? What about? [responses] Now one of you said Haiti, what happened there? Any friends who have family there? I can understand them crying. I cried too about Haiti. I cried so much my tummy hurts, anyone else ever cried so hard their tummy hurt? Now what about God…does God cry? Do you think this made God sad? I bet it did. Can you think of any other time when God cries? [responses] I think God cries anytime people are suffering or hurting or have lost a loved one. Jesus cried when he lost his friend Lazarus. I think Jesus cried (a) because his heart hurt too (b) but also to remind us that God cries and is hurt whenever we are. So its OK to cry or have friends that cry this week, because we believe God cries with us. So maybe you can be good friends this week to your friends who are hurting, cry with them, because that’s what Jesus did with us. Let’s pray…”
#2 Focus on expressed questions of theodicy:
“I’ve been thinking alot about superheroes this week. Who are some superheroes from comics or movies? [responses] now, do they really exist? No, they do in our imagination, right? But what about us, is there anyone in our lives who is like a superhero? [responses] When I was your age, I thought my [dad, mom, grandma, teacher] was a superhero. S/he could do anything, if there was a cup on the top cupboard s/he could get it, if there was a car, s/he could drive it. Now, are those superhero superpowers? No, pretty silly huh? I think there’s a reason why we pray to Father God, Mother God, Parent God and not SuperGod or BatGod…because God is more like a loving parent than a superhero. Superheroes stop bad things from happening, right? What bad thing happened this week in a country on another continent? Yes, Haiti earthquake. If we believed in SuperGod, SuperGod could have stopped it with x-ray vision or superspideystrength, right? But we believe God is more like a parent, and what do parents do? When I cut my knee riding a bike, what did my [parent/whoever] do? They held me and bandaged my booboo. I think God is like a parent right now holding every person in Haiti, every person here with family in Haiti, and all of us who are scared right now God is holding us and here with us. Does that feel good to you to know God is holding us right now? Maybe squeeze yourself really really tight? [squeeze!] God is even closer than that squeeze and God will never leave you alone. Let’s pray…”
For other great Children’s sermons and resources, I would suggest another friend’s website “A Heart after Children.”