Anna's Hosannas!
Free Worship Resources for Use with the Lectionary
 
First Thoughts:  Taking as our inspiration the parable from Matthew 25: 1-13, we are going to help the kids gain an understanding of what it takes to be spiritually ready for God's call.  We know from experience that life is full of unexpected opportunities, places where God would have us offer grace or love or compassion to others - and we can't know in advance what we'll be asked to do.  The solution is to try to be prepared all the time.  Can you recall a time in your life when God asked you to provide an unexpected ministry, and you were prepared to do so?  How about a time when God called and you found you just weren't in the right spiritual space to respond?  Reflect on your experiences in both cases, and carry it with you in your time with the kids.

Props You Will Need:  Flashlight, oil lamp for an example (optional)

Teaching as a Team
(Leader 2 has flashlight - turned off; looking solemn)
Leader 1: Hey (name), what are you doing with that flashlight?  And why do you look so sad?
Leader 2: I was supposed to go to a surprise birthday party last night, for my friend John.
Leader 1: Well, that sounds like fun.  So why are you sad?
Leader 2: Cause I didn't get to go.  See, we were planning to all hide out in his house in the dark.  And then when he arrived we were all gonna jump out with our flashlights on and scare him.
Leader 1: So what went wrong?
Leader 2: We ended up waiting a long time, and since I don't really like the dark I kept my flashlight on.  But then before John arrived, my batteries ran out.  
Leader 1: Uh oh.
Leader 2: Yeah, I asked one of my other friends if I could borrow some batteries from him, but he said he only had enough batteries for his own flashlight.  So I had to run out to the store to try to find some new batteries, but while I was gone...
Leader 1: John arrived!
Leader 2: Yeah.  So I didn't get to go to the party.  If only I'd brought some spare batteries, I would have been able to be part of the surprise!
Leader 1:  That's too bad.  You know, your story reminds me of a story Jesus told - about ten women who were going to a wedding.  They were waiting for the groom to arrive, and they had oil lamps to light their way.  But five of the women didn't bring enough oil for their lamps, and they ran out.  While they were out getting more oil, the groom arrived - and the five women missed it.  Jesus used the story to remind us that we should always plan ahead, so we can always be ready.
Leader 2:  Ready for what?  
Leader 1: Whatever God wants us to do.  Maybe in our day God will ask us to be kind to someone who is sad, or share our lunch with someone who is hungry, or forgive someone who hurts us.  Those are hard things to do sometimes, especially if we're not prepared for them. (taking flashlight)  If we're going to be a light to the world we have to make sure our batteries are fully charged!
Leader 2: But how do we get ready for those things?
Leader 1: We can start each day with prayer,  asking God to help us and telling God that we're ready to listen to God that day.  We can come to church each week, to be encouraged by others who are trying to follow God's voice too
Leader 2: Like getting your God battery recharged!
Leader 1: You got it.

Teaching On Your Own:  (holding flashlight, looking glum) See what I have here?  Yeah, a flashlight.  I was going to use this flashlight last night for a really fun surprise.  See, we decided to give my friend John a surprise birthday party, and so we all gathered at his house in the dark.  The plan was, when he opened the door we'd all turn on our flashlights and yell "surprise!"  But it took John awhile to get there, and I'm a little scared of the dark.  So I turned my flashlight on early.  I guess the batteries weren't exactly fresh because, guess what happened.  The batteries ran out!  I asked one of my other friends if I could borrow some batteries from him, but he said he only had enough batteries for his own flashlight.  So I had to run out to the store to try to find some new batteries, but while I was gone John arrived!  So I didn't get to go to the party.  If only I'd brought some spare batteries, I would have been able to be part of the surprise!  You know, that reminds me of a story Jesus told once,  - about ten women who were going to a wedding.  They were waiting for the groom to arrive, and they had oil lamps to light their way.  But five of the women didn't bring enough oil for their lamps, and they ran out.  While they were out getting more oil, the groom arrived - and the five women missed it.  Jesus used the story to remind us that we should always plan ahead, so we can always be ready for whatever God wants us to do.  Maybe in our day God will ask us to be kind to someone who is sad, or share our lunch with someone who is hungry, or forgive someone who hurts us.  Those are hard things to do sometimes, especially if we're not prepared for them. (taking flashlight)  If we're going to be a light to the world we have to make sure our batteries are fully charged!  How do you think we recharge our God batteries?  We can start each day with prayer, asking God to help us and telling God that we're ready to listen to God that day.  We can come to church each week, to be encouraged by others who are trying to follow God's voice too.  The bottom line is this: we need to stay charged up so we don't miss out on the best party of all - God's party!

Closing Prayer: Thank you, God, for calling us to do your work in the world.  Help us to remember to recharge our batteries every day, so we're ready to do whatever you ask of us.  In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: As a follow-up to this story, help the kids prepare an "Recharging Kit." These are things the kids can use each morning to get ready for their day.  Start by preparing a paper pocket to store their ideas, and let them color the pocket.  Then give them each a little prayer to put in their pocket, something like: "God, I want to do your will today.  Please give me love and courage to care for others as you care for me.  Thank you for your help!  Amen."  You can also teach them a morning blessing song, like "Give me Oil in My Lamp" and give them the lyrics to put in their pocket.  Finally, teach them a morning body prayer to use.  A good example would be a prayer which begins with hands together in prayer position (intention to prayer); then hands reach up to the sky (receiving a gift from God); hands come back to our heart (taking the gift into ourselves); and then hands come down and out (sharing the gift with others.)  Either give the kids a copy of the description of the body prayer, or drawings of each posture (if you're a good artist!)