Welcoming Children to Worship
Today is an important Sunday in the life of our young church. Earlier today, we had our first Sunday School hour with our elementary age children. And now, we have all of those children joining us for the entire worship service. So I want to take this exhortation to talk to the kids directly. So if you’re a child in here this morning, try to listen to Pastor Joe for the next few minutes.
First of all, welcome to the worship service. We are all really glad that you’re here. I know that many of you have been coming to the worship service for a long time. But for some of you, you normally go down to Children’s Time halfway through the service. But whether you’ve been coming for a while or this is something new for you, we are very glad you’re here. I know that some of you may be a little sad that you don’t get to go down to Children’s Time. You love coming to church to spend time with your friends downstairs.
The reason we gather on Sunday mornings is to worship God with his people. Both of those are important. Your parents love to be with God, to worship and praise him. And they love to worship with his people. All during the week, the people in this church are scattered around the Cities. We go to work and to school and to the store. And everywhere we go, we’re trying to show people what Jesus is like so that they will follow him too. But on Sunday, we come from Minneapolis and St. Paul and Falcon Heights and Roseville and Edina and other places in the Twin Cities so that we can worship God together. And each week we do the same things as a way of honoring God in our worship.
First, God calls us into worship. Can you believe that? The God who made the whole world actually invites us into his presence so that we can worship him and he can fill us up with his love and truth and joy. At the beginning of the service, after the announcements, one of the pastors will say, “Let’s stand and let me call you into worship.” And then he’ll pray a prayer that signals that our worship service has begun.
Then we’ll sing a song or two. We love to sing songs of worship to Jesus. And we want you to sing with us. So when it’s time for the songs, we want you to stand up next to your parents and try to sing along. The words will be on the screen up here. But even if you have a hard time singing the songs at first, we want you to stand with us because part of the wonderful thing about worship on Sunday is that we do things together.
After the first song or two, we have an exhortation. That’s what I’m doing right now. That’s when you sit down and one of the pastors reminds you of something that Jesus wants you to know or do. The exhortations are short, so I’d like you to work hard to try and listen to hear what God is telling you through the pastor. At the end of the exhortation, we have a time to confess our sins. The pastor will pray a short prayer confessing our sins to God, and then we have a time of silence when everyone can tell God about the things that they’ve done wrong this week. We tell God about the wrong things we’ve done so that he can make things right. So if you’ve done something wrong this morning, in a moment you can tell God what you’ve done wrong and ask him to forgive you. After you’ve done that, the pastor will have everyone stand, and he will tell you what God says to anyone who confesses their sins from their heart. He will declare the entire forgiveness of all your sins. And after the pastor says, “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” everyone will say, “Thanks be to God!”
After that, we’ll stand and sing a few more songs and pray. And then one of the pastors will come up and preach God’s word to everyone. During this time you can sit and listen to God’s word. If you’d like, you can draw a picture of what the pastor is talking about. In fact, if you listen to the sermon and draw a picture of it, after the service, you can come show the pastor what you drew. It really encourages the pastors to see what you draw.
After the sermon, then we have the Lord’s Supper. Now, the Lord’s Supper is a special meal that Jesus gave to his followers. It’s for those who have trusted in Jesus and been baptized. It’s where all of God’s people says, “I belong to Jesus. Jesus is the true King and he is my King.” And so we eat bread together to remind us of Jesus’s body that was broken for us, and we drink wine to remind us of the blood of Jesus that he shed to forgive our sins. And if you have questions about the Lord’s Supper, you can ask your mommy or daddy or one of the pastors about it.
At the end of the service, we’ll sing one more song—All Glory Be To Christ—and then one of the pastors will commission us back into the world. To commission means that God is giving us a mission to do. And our mission here is to make disciples, to help other people to follow Jesus and trust in Jesus to forgive their sins. And the most wonderful part is that Jesus promises to be with us to help us accomplish this mission.
And this reminds us of our needs to confess our sins, so let’s seek his forgiveness together.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father and God, you are the Maker of Heaven and Earth. In a moment, Pastor Jonathan is going to tell us what this means. But one of the things it means is that we belong to you and we should love you with all of our hearts and minds and souls and strength. But we have not done this. We have turned away and we have sinned against you. We have disobeyed you. We have been unkind to others. We have grumbled and complained. We have hurt and hated our neighbor instead of loving our neighbor. We have disobeyed our parents. We have exasperated our children. We have put other things first in our lives. This is a great evil.
And so as your covenant people, we confess these sins to you. We ask that you have mercy on us because we are sinners. We pray that you would clean our hearts so that we can worship you with your people and follow Jesus every day.
We know, Father, that if we in the Church regard sin in our own midst, or in our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual. And so we confess our individual sins to you now. . . .