Here’s the first in the worship resources series for Lent…

Lectionary Texts

You are free to reprint these resources for use in worship. Please include the attribution “RootsOfJusticeTraining.org, 2015.” If text is spoken but not printed, we appreciate printing in your bulletin a general “Thanks to RootsOfJusticeTraining.org for some of the [prayers/text/ideas] used in this service.”

Opening Prayer

Holy One, you are a God of covenants, reminding us of your faithfulness in the midst of our failures. We have covered ourselves with grey ashes for repentance. You have offered a rainbow full of color, a promise that your covenant is with all living things. Lead us this morning into a fuller realization that your promise covers those who are gunned down as much as those who are protected; those who can marry, as much as those who cannot; and those whom we hold at arm’s length, as much as those whom we embrace. You embrace us all.

– Phil Morice Brubaker, RootsOfJusticeTraining.org 2015

Responsive Reading

One: In a world where some are wantonly treacherous and some just go along:

Many: We repent, O God. Instruct us in your way.

One: In a world where all lives do not matter to the same degree:

Many: We repent, O God. Instruct us in your way.

One: In a world where “diversity” most often means injustice.

Many: We repent, O God. Instruct us in your way.

One: In a world encircled by God’s rainbow covenant:

Many: We repent and believe the good news.

– Phil Morice Brubaker, RootsOfJusticeTraining.org 2015

Benediction

May you leave with the blessings of God, and in turn shower blessings on all living things.

– Phil Morice Brubaker, RootsOfJusticeTraining.org 2015

Children’s Sermon Ideas

The rainbow is a symbol of peace and justice. Here in the U.S. in the 21st century, many of us probably think of the Rainbow Flag used by LGBTQ communities as a symbol of pride. A trip over to the Wikipedia article for “Rainbow Flag” will turn up many other uses of the same imagery throughout the centuries and all over the world to denote peace, acceptance, and an affirmation of the diversity of God’s children.

Today’s story in Genesis shows the biblical root of that rainbow symbol. Depending on your context, you will have different entry points for the conversation. For example, our church has a rainbow banner on the front that says “All Are Welcome.” I can talk with the children about how our church decided to hang that banner as a welcoming sign for perople who identify as LGBTQ. You may choose, instead, to talk about how we all look different. You could focus on skin color (and might even sing the song “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Every shade from dark to light,* they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”) or being differently abled, or different ages, or dressing differently…. the possibilities are endless. Regardless, you can tell a brief version of the Flood Narrative, highlighting today’s passage which shows that God affirms and loves all. The rainbow in the sky was God’s promise to bless and keep all of us and to protect us from danger.

If you have time, I suggest doing an interactive experience with the children around a rainbow craft of some sort. You could give each child a cut out piece of construction paper and have them work together to glue them to a piece of paper. Or you could give each child a ribbon and then loop the ribbons over a wire hanger to make a colorful rainbow mobile. You could also consider dying pieces of pasta or rice ahead of time, give each color to a different child and then have them mix the colors together in a big mason jar to show the beauty of the colors mixing. (To dye pasta or rice: mix a couple of tablespoons of rubbing alcohol with a generous amount of food coloring – say, 15-20 drops – in a ziptop bag. Add in the pasta or rice and mix it around to coat. Remove the pasta/rice from the bag and lay it on towels to dry overnight.)

As you work together on the craft, you can talk to the children about how the different colors represent different gifts, abilities, cultures, etc. and how, when they are all combined, they make something truly beautiful to behold. God has created us in great diversity – rather than aiming for a melting pot, where our differences are muted, we should strive to appreciate and celebrate our differences, recognizing that when we are all together we are truly beautiful.

– Caela Simmons Wood, RootsOfJusticeTraining.org 2015

*Be sure you don’t accidentally fall into the traditional words of the song, “Red and yellow, black and white,” which are problematic as they encode the historical “four races of humankind,” which is a concept distinct from varieties of skin color.

Contributors

Phil Morice Brubaker is coordinator and trainer with Roots of Justice.

The Rev. Caela Simmons Wood is pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Manhattan, Kansas. Pastor Caela is passionate about racial justice, LGBT rights, and gender equality. You can read her sermons at her blog.

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