Children’s ministry resource
This story illustrates a way of worshiping with children. The author believes it is very important to both acknowledge the children’s connection with God and the sacredness of learning from Scripture at the beginning of story-time. Her wondering questions do not require spoken answers. They open the child’s theological thinking process. Sometimes wonderful conversations do occur, but it is fine to trust that these questions can kindle the silent working of the Holy Spirit in the child’s heart and mind.
Author: Elsie Rempel
Church: Charleswood Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Theme: Jesus wants us to settle our differences quickly
Text: Matthew 5:22–25a
Welcome the children as they arrive and let them know that it encourages you to be together with them for this Children’s Time. Settle down together to become aware of that place inside where we know God is near.
After a pause, ask them if any of them got into any fights this last week. Did any of them say sorry and make up so they could play together again? Wonder together why it can be so hard and so important to settle differences.
Explain that today’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 5. It talks about making up, or settling your differences. Read verses 22 to 25a to them. Let the words of Scripture settle a bit before beginning the story.
Michael was a boy who had a hard time living by the rules. He wanted to cooperate with his teachers and playmates, but before he knew it, things happened that made him angry. When he got angry, he forgot about the rules and lashed out. Before he knew it, he was in trouble and the teacher or the principal was asking him to explain what he did and what he would do better next time that happened. Sometimes they asked his parents to talk over the problem with him at home.
Michael did not like being in trouble. He did not like it at all. He wondered why there were so many rules. Sometimes he wondered why he got so angry while other people in his class just kept on playing. Today one of those girls who never get caught being nasty had teased him about being a trouble-maker at recess. Before he knew it, he had punched her in the nose, and you guessed it, she told on him, and he was in trouble again.
That evening after supper, his dad took Michael out for a walk and asked him how he felt about getting in trouble. Michael told his dad how much he hated it and how he got teased about being a trouble-maker. They walked in silence for quite a while. Then they started to wonder if Michael could develop some tricks that would make it easier for him to live by the rules. His dad remembered some tricks that had helped him when he was in school.
They decided to make a peace trick bracelet that Michael could wear. It was made out of rope. For every trick they thought of they put a knot into the bracelet. They thought of quite a few. It made Michael happy to know there were so many good tricks for not getting into trouble. They even added one for making up quickly by saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you.” In case he did hurt someone, that trick could help him settle the trouble before any teachers got involved. What he liked best about making this bracelet is that it helped him know that his dad loved him and understood his problem. He knew his dad would be praying for him while he tried out his new set of tricks at school.
The next morning, Michael wore the bracelet to school and his dad prayed. Michael felt like he had a powerful protector on his wrist. The girl who never got caught came to tease him again, but instead of bringing his fists up to punch her, he fingered the bracelet on his wrist and remembered the tricks he and his dad had talked about. He smiled at her and walked away.
- I wonder what tricks they had for not getting into trouble?
- I wonder why some people have a hard time living by the rules while others find it easy?
- I wonder how we can settle differences quickly instead of getting into trouble?
Jesus, we thank you for people, like Michael and his dad, who learn tricks that help them get along with others. Thank you for teaching us about settling our differences quickly. Please help us think of good tricks for getting along with others, too. Amen.
—Elsie Rempel, who has a Master of theology, worked in Christian formation for Mennonite Church Canada (2012–2015) and has worshiped with children for decades. Her current focus is with preschool children. This children’s story is part of a larger Mennonite Church Canada story archive available as a downloadable resource to teachers and ministers.
Illustrated by Irma Sulistyorini
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