Family church is a party! Normally at the church I go to, everyone is together for the worship at the beginning and then the kids go off to a separate "service" during the sermon. But the last Sunday of every month is family church. The kids get to stay and the entire service is geared towards the entire family. It is usually pretty crazy and today was no exception.
The sermon focused on the story of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee during a storm. (See Luke 8: 22-25) But the entire service was very interactive....
" Who knows a story about Jesus in a boat?"
*Kids raise hands, one is called on.*
"One time. One time. Jesus.. he's in a boat. With these two guys. And they're fishing."
"Yes.... good. And who else remembers a story about Jesus in a boat during a storm?"
*Lots of hands go up.*
From there, the story was read by one of the students from a kid's Bible and then again by an adult from the NIV Bible. Then they had some kids come on stage and act out the story. There was Jesus and 5 very energetic disciples! They were extremely motivated by the sweeties (candy) they were promised at the end.
Now, this is the most energetic version I have ever seen of the story. The disciples had great enthusiasm! They were very terrified when they thought the boat would tip! And then when they went to wake up Jesus, this was no tap on the shoulder. All 5 jumped on him, half punching him awake! Come to think of it, that might have been more accurate anyway. When the disciples were really thinking they were going to drown, I doubt they walked up, gently shook Jesus awake and said, "I'm sorry sir. We hate to disturb you. But it appears there is a great amount of precipitation falling from the sky causing our boat to sit a little lower than normal in the water. We find this a bit disconcerting. Could you come help us bail with the pails we had our fish lunches in?" Nope. I'm thinking they probably were a bit more forceful in getting Jesus out of bed!
After this fabulous skit was done, 13 kids and the pastor were given a balloon with one word on it from one of the verses from the sermon. They had to put themselves in order. Then we all practiced the verse. We went through it the first time with all the balloons. Then a few were popped and we had to say it again. We did this about 4 times until all the balloons were popped and we were saying the verse straight from memory.
But the ending part of this lesson was definitely the best part. One of the kids was brought back on stage and put a life jacket on. The allusion was made to how the life jacket saves our lives if we fall in the water. Then the question was asked...
"Who else saves our lives?"
One bright and energetic boy in the front row quickly shouts out, "Firemen!"
Yes.... Or Jesus. But you know. That works too. The entire church had a great laugh and the precocious little boy looked pretty proud of himself. But from there we were able to refocus and talk about how Jesus can also save us in the stormy times, whether that is dealing with a bully at school, finishing hard homework assignments, grappling with the tsunami in Japan, or wondering why you've been out of work for months. Through all the storms, big or small. Jesus is still there. He is the one that can calm the storms and put out the fires in our lives.