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Let them sing for joy on their couches — Christian education at home

There are times when the calendar, the Revised Common Lectionary and world events seem to be completely in sync.  Usually, though, this confluence occurs around a profound tragedy or a moment of social upheaval.  Rarely does it aptly describe the current state of the world and provide a bit of lighthearted humor.  The psalm reading for this Sunday, Psalm 149:1-6, calls on the faithful to praise God through worship, to “sing for joy on their couches” (verse 5b).

Many of us are worshipping online from the comfort of our couches, so why not also engage in a little joy-filled Christian education from the same spot?  In this activity, you and your children will gather in a comfy spot to praise God through joyful (and a little silly) music making.

Begin the time with your children by gathering with them in a comfortable location.  This may be the couch, bed, floor or whatever spot in the house your family associates with coziness.  You may even want to do this while everyone is still in their pajamas.

Then, read aloud Psalm 149:1-5.  (Note: The lectionary reading actually extends to verse 6.  However, since this line introduces war imagery that adds a different layer of meaning to the psalm, this lesson focuses only on the first five verses.)  Ask your children to reflect on the feeling or mood of these verses.  They will likely share that the lines are happy or joyous.  Explain that this happiness centers on God.

Next, focus in on what the people described in the reading do to show their joy.  They sing to God, praise God together, dance and make music with instruments.  Reflect on where and when we do these activities.  Worship services will likely emerge as an answer.  Talk about the places and spaces where we hold worship services.   Certainly, the idea of worship occurring outside of the church building will arise, as many of us were or are participating in virtual or outdoor services.  Draw your children’s attention to verse 5: “Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.” Note that while worshipping together in the church space may be ideal, we can praise God from other spaces, including our couches.  In fact, Jesus tells his disciples, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).

Building on the call to celebrate God from the couch (or whatever comfortable space your family has chosen), hold a “praise party” from this place.  You may want to include all or some of the following:

  • Sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 149:1): Select a new hymn (or two) to sing as a family. Pull the song up on your smartphone or laptop so you can listen to and sing along while on the couch.
  • Let them praise God’s name with dancing (Psalm 149:3a): Hold a seated dance party on the couch. Using a smartphone or laptop, play joyful songs while moving along.
  • Make melody to God with tambourine and lyre (Psalm 149:3b): While you may not have a lyre or a tambourine in your home, some of you will likely have other small instruments. Even if you don’t, household items like pots and pans, rubber bands and utensils make great instruments.  Make a joy-filled sound with your instruments in praise of God.

JOELLE BRUMMIT-YALE is the director of children’s and youth ministries at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  When not at the church, she can usually be found at home with her son and husband caring for their many animals and developing their family homestead.