At our church we sometimes have some fairly unusual services. Today, a young married couple (Thoric and Sarah) was in charge of the Resurrection Sunday service. They chose to do a 'child-centered' service. It went a little like this:
First, Thoric had all the children in the congregation bring a hymnal up to the front of the church. He told the kids that the hymnal would represent their sin; and then asked them to hold the hymnal out in front of them for as long as they could until it started to feel heavy. Next he asked one of the kids' father come up and started stacking all the hymnals onto his outstreached arms. It was then expained that this is what Jesus did for us when he takes away our sins. He carries the burden of our sins for us (if we let him).
There was also a puppet show that asked "What is this day about?". There were three puppets, the first puppet answered that this day is about bunnies, the next said that it was about eggs. The last puppet told the children that today is really about Jesus dying for our sins so that we could have eternal life.
Sarah also read the following story (I have seen the Veggie Tales version of this story, but hadn't actually read the book) to the kids as they all sat in the front rows:
The Wemmick Story
by: Max Lucado, You Are Special
The Wemmicks were small wooden people. These little wooden people were carved by a woodworker named "Eli." Eli's workshop sat on a hill overlooking the Wemmick Village. Every one of the Wemmicks were different. Some had big noses, others had large eyes. Some were tall and others were short. Some wore hats, others wore coats. But all were made by the same carver and all lived in the same village.
All day long, every day, the Wemmicks did the same thing. They gave each other stickers. Each Wemmick had a box of golden star stickers and a box of dull gray dot stickers. Up and down the streets all over the city, people could be seen sticking gold stars or gray dots onto each other. The pretty ones, those with smooth wood and fine paint, always got shiny gold stars! But if the wood was rough or the paint was chipped, the Wemmicks gave dull gray dots. The talented ones got stars, too. Some could lift big sticks high above their heads or jump over tall boxes. Still others knew big words or could sing very pretty songs. Everyone gave them shiny gold stars! Some Wemmicks had stars all over them! Every time they got a star it made them feel so good that they did something else and got another star.
There were many other Wemmicks though that could do very little. They got dull gray dots! There was one little Wemmick and his name was "Punchinello." He tried to jump high like the others, but he always fell. And when he fell, the others would gather 'round and give him dull gray dots. Sometimes when he fell, it would scar his wood, so the people would give him more gray dots. He would try to explain why he fell and, in doing so, he would say something really silly. Then the Wemmicks would give him some more dots!!!
After a while, Punchinello had so many dots that he didn't want to go outside. He was afraid he would do something dumb such as forget his hat or step in the water, and then people would give him more dull gray dots. In fact, he had so many gray dots that some people would come up and just give him one without any reason! "He deserves lots of dots," they would say. The wooden people would agree with one another. "He's not a good wooden person," they would say. After a while Punchinello believed them. "I am not a good Wemmick!" he would say. The few times he went outside, he hung around other Wemmicks who had a lot of gray dots. At least he felt better around them.
One day, Punchinello met a Wemmick who was unlike any he'd ever met. She had no dull gray dots and did not have any shiny golden stars either. She was a wooden Wemmick and her name was "Lucia." It wasn't that people didn't try to give her stickers; it's just that the stickers didn't stick to her!!! Some admired Lucia for having no dots, so they would run up and give her a star. But it would fall off. Some would look down on her for having no stars, so they would give her a dot. But they would not stick either!!!
"That's the way I want to be!" thought Punchinello. "I don't want anyone's marks!" So he asked the "stickerless" Wemmick how she did it. "It's easy," Lucia replied. "Every day I go see Eli." Punchinello asked,"Eli? Who is Eli?" She replied "Yes, Eli, He is the woodcarver. I sit in His workshop and spend time with Him." He asked Lucia,"Why do you do that?" Lucia told him, "Why don't you find out for yourself? Go up the hill and visit with Him. He's there!" And with that, the sweet little Wemmick named Lucia turned and skipped away.
"But He won't want to see me!" Punchinello cried out to her. Lucia didn't hear him, as she was too far away. So Punchinello went home. He sat near a window and watched the wooden people as they scurried around giving each other gold stars and gray dots. "It's just not right," he muttered to himself. Then he resolved to go see Eli after all. Punchinello walked up the narrow path to the top of the hill and stepped into the big Woodcarver Shop. His little wooden eyes widened at the size of everything. The stool was as tall as he was. He had to stretch on his tippy-toes to see the top of the workbench. A hammer was as long as his arm. Punchinello swallowed hard and thought to himself, "I'm not staying here!" and he turned to leave. Then he heard his name. "Punchinello?" said this voice, so deep and strong. Just then Punchinello stopped. The voice said, "Punchinello, oh how good it is of you to come! Let me have a look at you."
Punchinello slowly turned around and looked at the large bearded craftsman and said, "Sir, you know my name?" "Of course I do. I made you," Eli said. All of a sudden, Eli stooped down and picked little Punchinello up and set him on the workbench. "Hmmmmm," the Maker spoke thoughtfully as he inspected the gray circles all over him, "Looks like you've been given some bad marks." Punchinello explained,"Oh, Eli, I didn't mean to; really I didn't!!! I really tried hard not to." The Maker said, "Oh, you don't have to defend yourself to me, my child. I don't care what the other Wemmicks think." Punchinello asked, "Really? You don't?" Then Eli said, "No and you shouldn't either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They are Wemmicks just like you. What they think really doesn't matter at all, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special." Punchinello laughed, "Oh, me special? How can I be special? I can't walk fast. I can't jump. My paint is peeling. I make silly mistakes all the time and I am not a beautiful Wemmick like some of the others. How could I matter to you?" Eli looked at Punchinello and put his hands on those little wooden shoulders of his and spoke very slowly, "Because Punchinello... you are mine. That's why you matter to me." Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this before or say anything so nice, much less his Maker! He didn't know what to say!
"Punchinello, every day I've been waiting and hoping you would come to see me," Eli explained. Punchinello looked up at him and said, "I came because I met a sweet Wemmick girl who had no marks." Eli said, "I know. Lucia told me about you." So Punchinello asked, "Why don't the stickers stay on Lucia?" Eli said, "Because she has decided that what I think is more important than what anyone else thinks. The stickers only stick if you let them." Punchinello looked puzzled and said, "What?" Eli said, "Yes, the stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust My love, the less you will care about those stickers." But Punchinello said, "I'm not sure I really understand. What you are saying?" The maker said, "You will, but it will take some time. You've got a lot of marks. So for now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care about you." Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the floor. "Now remember," Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door. "You ARE special because I made you, and I don't make mistakes."
Punchinello didn't stop, but in his heart he thought, "I think He really means it." And each time he remembered what Eli told him and each time he went to visit and talk with Eli, one of Punchinello's dots would fall off. They kept falling off and soon they were all gone!!!
So like Punchinello, we must remember one thing: "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart."
(I Samuel 16:7)
I like it that they thought to gear this service toward the kids. It also helped explain what this day is really all about and what we should remember and focus on this Sunday.