for panicking children's homilists (Proper 20, Year C) ...
I've gotten a record number of hits this week, a record number of comments, and a record number of emails. Many of the emails have been last-minute inquiries from people giving children's homilies tomorrow. I definitely understand -- other than the "anyone who does not hate father and mother, spouse and children, cannot be my disciple" text a little while ago, I can hardly imagine a text further from what we usually want to use to exemplify piety for children than what we've got this week.
It's Saturday night, and I've got a sermon and an adult ed presentation of my own to finish preparing, so I can only afford to give a brief answer to people who have written over the last few hours asking for help with a children's homily. But here's a very brief recap of the children's chapel I did with this text:
I told the story using puppets, with one difference (not original to me). I said at the beginning that I meant to do a puppet show, but I'd forgotten the puppets, so I'd need some extra help. I think I chose about five or six volunteers -- one steward, and one landowner, and a couple or a few farmers. I explained to them that they are the puppets; when I press their back, they should drop their jaws, and when I release their back, they should close their mouths again. We practiced this a couple of times, which the kids in the pews seemed to enjoy. Then I told the story, with the same basic outline as what I gave in the blog, only inserting much more dialogue (giving me an opportunity to do a lot more back-pressing, which the kids loved):
There was a very, very rich man who had a huge farm, but he didn't like to work, so he got lots of other people to do all of the planting and growing and picking crops and such. He hardly let the farmers who did this work keep any of what they grew, though, so the farmers were hungry and angry. He hired a manager to make sure the farmers did their work, and to collect most of what they grew, and the farmers were very angry at the manager too.
But the manager wasn't very good at his job, and he wasted a lot of the landowner's money. The owner called the manager in, and told him he was fired (LOTS of opportunity to insert dialogue here!). And then the master went away to the city, where he liked to lie around and visit with his friends. So the manager did something very clever.
He called each of the farmers in, and he said, "how much did you owe my master?" One said, "a million dollars." Another said, "ten thousand dollars." Another said, "a thousand dollars." And the manager took out his eraser, and he erased a bunch of the zeroes on those bills. "Wow!" said the first farmer, "I only owe ten thousand dollars now." "I only owe a hundred now," said the second. "I only owe one dollar now," said the third. And the manager said, "See how generous the landowner is? Make sure to tell him how you feel when he comes back."
So a few weeks later, when the farmers heard that the landowner was coming back, they were prepared. They and all of their families were lined up all along the road to the farm, and they were waving balloons and signs and throwing confetti and cheering (lots of opportunity to run around pressing kids' backs here): "Hooray for the landowner! Hooray for the landowner! Hooray for the landowner!"
Well the landowner didn't quite know why they were all cheering, but he liked it a little too much to say anything right away. He didn't find out until he got back to his farmhouse, where he saw the manager. "What are YOU doing here?" he said, "I fired you!" But the manager told the landowner exactly what he'd done.
Did the manager want to go back out and tell all of those cheering farmers that they really owed him millions of dollars? No way! The landowner liked all of the farmers cheering for him. So the landowner gave the manager his job, and forgave the debts of those farmers.
So, if the landowner could forgive because he wanted everyone to think he was as cool as they said he was, and if the steward could forgive because he wanted to keep his job, don't we have much more reason to forgive. since we know how much God loves us and forgives us?
I hope that helps. It worked really well when I did it -- not only did I get the job (yes, I chose to do a children's chapel on this text as part of my audition for my current position), but I was told that kids were actually talking with their parents about it, and about that gospel passage, at least a week after the chapel service, which felt pretty good.
God's blessings upon all preachers and teachers for all age groups, and upon those who listen for God's voice in this story!
thanks for the idea! kids as puppets, that will work
Posted by: Mary Louise Brown | Sep 22, 2007 9:44:49 AM