Ideas for intergenerational worship on Storm Sunday. I used Rex Hunt’s wonderful progressive liturgies for the Season of Creation as a starting point.
Call to worship
The windows of the sanctuary are covered with black fabric or cardboard and a black tablecloth is placed on the altar with a single, unlit candle. As people enter the sanctuary a digital display of powerful storms, accompanied by sounds of rain and thunder plays.
Before the call to worship is offered, one volunteer is positioned with a gong on one side of the church and children with an assortment of pots, drums, spoons and other “noisemakers” on the other. Other volunteers stand ready to remove the window coverings. Instructions are given on what each group must do when you signal to them.
In the beginning the Creative Spirit hovered over the darkness of the deep …
<a cymbal or gong is clanged>
… and into the emptiness, into the chaos the Living Word thundered
<a cymbal or gong is clanged>
“Let there be light.”
<the black cardboard or fabric is removed from the windows
while you light the candle on the altar>
And there was – Light and Life and Love.
<the gong or cymbal is clanged, three times>
This day we invite, through the Spirit,
the power of the storm to gather with us.
The wild winds and the dark clouds,
the lightning flash and the thunder roll.
The fierce gales and blinding rains,
the crashing waves and swaying trees.
<wild crashing of pots and pot lids by children>
But with our invitation comes the question:
Where is the Almighty in all of this?
In the storm?
In the cyclone?
In the tsunami?
In the thunder of the storm?
<wild crashing of pots and pot lids by children – followed by signal for silence>
Or in the stillness after the storm?
<the quiet is kept,
the storyteller takes their place behind the altar and lays out the pieces for the story to come,
the children can be invited to gather round with simple hand gestures>
Prayers of wonder: Noah’s Ark
For the story on Storm Sunday, I use Godly Play materials and an adapted version of “the flood and the ark” which includes “wondering” invitations to prayer/sharing throughout. A simple children’s story Bible could be used instead with these responses added where suitable.
I have included the “wondering” responses and the wording which precedes them below:
- But people began to do bad things. God decided to send a great flood of water to wash everything clean and make it new again. I wonder what we want God to wash clean or make new in our lives.
- Noah and all his family began to build the ark. I wonder what God would like us to build together in this place as God’s family.
- But God did not forget the creatures on the ark. I wonder if we have ever felt like God has forgotten us.
- All the creatures began to come out of the ark. They were so happy to be home again that they could not help it. They had to say their prayers to try to say how happy they were. They made an altar and gave thanks to God. I wonder what we’d like to thank God for today.
- Suddenly, all the creatures saw a great bow in the sky. It was a bow of many colours. You can still see it today when there is rain and the sun is shining. Today we call it a rainbow. <Use the prism to create a rainbow in the room – you may have to experiment in advance as to where and what angle best catches the light – if you’re happy with a little more chaos, give children flashlights and let them figure it out>This rainbow was God’s sign to say that God will never send such a flood again. I wonder what promises God has made you and what promises you have made God.
- The creatures then went out into all the four corners of the earth and filled it up again with life. <These words lead into the prayers for the world>
Prayer for the world
Like many places in the world at the moment, water scarcity is a major concern in our community – particularly for those who make their living on the land. Our faith community will be joining other congregations in the region in prayer for an end to the drought. While these prayers can be offered in the church, we will “go out into the four corners of the earth to fill it up again with life.”
In a circle outside, with some chairs for those who cannot stand for long periods of time and bubble wands for the young and young at heart (echoing the rainbow colours inside), we will simply sing these four lines as our prayer:
Let it rain,
let it rain.
Open the floodgates of heaven.
Let it rain.
We have been creating a Season of Creation panorama using the glass panels in our church. For Storm Sunday, the panel will be covered in black cardboard and the kids’ rainclouds will be added after the service.
After reflecting on “Who is this Jesus?” from the Gospel Reading of Luke 8:22-25, a simple love feast will be shared using the following words as a call to the table:
When the dark clouds thicken
and the squall rides high,
and the wild winds whistle,
and the storm birds cry,
we will find our peace
at a table wide
where the Lord of Love’s
pierced limbs and side
reveal the truth
that he is here
and death is done
and guilt and fear.
<the blessing, breaking, and sharing of bread and wine>