[#pictureLent] March 15: EXTOL

By Kelly Duke
Director, Children & Family Ministries
Sierra Vista United Methodist Church
San Angelo, Texas

First, read Psalm 95:1-2 

One morning in October, one kindergarten girl reminded me how we all need to work on praising Jesus. This particular girl, whose name is Chloe, has been a part of our congregation since birth; her mom is faithful about Sunday school and worship, and her family has a long history with our church. At the same time, this family has struggled because of medical issues relating to Chloe’s younger twin brothers who were preemies. I knew of Chloe from her time in the Nursery and in preschool Sunday school, but I did not know her well. If I’m honest, I’ll admit that I was a bit anxious about her moving up to be with the “big kids” for Sunday school now that she was in kindergarten. Her brothers had severe separation anxiety, and I wondered how Chloe and the boys would do in separate areas of church.

As it happens, though, my worry was wasted. Chloe dove into her new Sunday school class and our midweek program with the grace, love, and abandon that I have since discovered that Chloe does everything. She is a wonderfully loving child, always ready with a hug, and she is so smart and socially savvy that, every week, I just marvel at her. She has a great sense of humor and a keen awareness of who she is – so much so that I wish other kids and a good number of adults could learn this confidence from her.

On this particular Sunday, Chloe was wearing a blue tutu, cowboy boots, Minion Goggles, and a tiara. (Like I said, she has her own sense of self!) After Sunday school, Chloe’s mom came to pick her up, and she asked Chloe if she was ready to go to church. As with most things, Chloe carefully considered her answer. Finally, she grabbed her mom’s hand and said, “Yes, Mama, I’m ready. I really need to work on that Jesus some more.”

As I watched Chloe skip happily away, dragging her mom along, I feel sure that my mouth was hanging open. She needed to work on Jesus some more. She needed to work on Jesus some more. Wow. Right then, I felt like I should drop all that I was doing and hurry behind this five-year-old to church immediately; I knew I needed to work on Jesus more than Chloe did, and I wanted to get there and get started right away.

How many of us head to weekly worship happily skipping? How often do we keenly feel the need to “work on Jesus” some more? How many of us understand how to go to Jesus just as we are – tutus, boots, goggles, and all? In truth, I doubt very many of us, yet, within that sentiment, lies a wonderful insight into how we should approach worship – with humility, excitement, and unfiltered joy. Worshipping might be work, and maybe others will look at us disapprovingly if we wear our tutus and cowboy boots to church – regardless of whether those tutus and boots are literal or metaphorical. However, if we are truly open to God and to his promises like Chloe is, we will learn what she already knows – that everyone is invited to worship Jesus, happily skipping and joyfully knowing full well how much we need him. 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we are excited about you! We want to work on you – on how we see you, on how you live in our hearts, and on how we can share you with others. We know that you will help us with these things. Help us put aside the distractions of our world, and focus on you. In your holy and precious name we pray, Amen.  

Discussion Questions

1. How does worship help us “work on that Jesus?” How does worshiping God help make us better disciples? 
2. How can we help ourselves to get excited and happy about worship? What can we do to make “working on Jesus” more fun? 
3. What “tutus” and “cowboy boots” do people often take into worship? What are distractions make people feel judged and perhaps untrue to their genuine selves when they are in communal worship? How can we set aside those distractions so that we can focus on really worshipping?