For the second Sunday after Christmas (in “Year C” of the lectionary) here’s a children’s sermon on John 1:1-18.
One sometimes hears the comment that Scripture is like the ocean—more that deep and wide enough for the most accomplished swimmer, but with shallows along the shore for any child to wade in.
I think generally this measure of depth is a difference between the accessibility of various books and passages.
We may underestimate the depth in a couple of ways:
- I suspect most would-be ocean swimmers don’t actually go in beyond their knees.
- And grown-ups may underestimate the depths that actual children (as opposed to the metaphorical spiritual children) can safely, and competently, splash around in.
If one preaches the lectionary Gospels in a congregation that includes children, one automatically pushes the boundaries of this. One must try to communicate the text’s message to kids, whether the text is easy peasy (like last week’s Gospel), or full of philosophical abstract concepts (like this week’s).
And so we come to this children’s sermon on John 1:1-18. It is a passage that the best Christian minds of the early centuries understood using concepts they had learned from Greek philosophy. This passage, and those philosophical ideas, greatly influenced the Church’s understanding of both
- God (a Trinity, one God in three eternal co-equal Persons), and
- Christ (one Person with two Natures, truly God and truly human).
Well, that’s all pretty highfalutin’ stuff for the crowd that comes up for the children’s sermon in most churches.
Making it Kid Friendly
My strategy is, as usual, to create an imaginative narrative framework to help make the issues plain—or at least to make them fun.
It’s just possible that someone might object to my putting conversation in the mouths of the Persons of the Trinity. But if you come here regularly you’ve gotten used to me putting words in Jesus’ mouth. If it’s okay to imagine things the Second person of the Trinity might have said, then why not the for First and Third?
So here we go with a children’s sermon on John 1:1-18. Let me know what you think.
A Children’s Sermon on John 1:1-18
Good morning kids! I’m so glad you’re here in worship this morning. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today is the second Sunday after Christmas. We’re still celebrating Christmas. The birth of Jesus is just so important, so amazing, that the church keeps celebrating Christmas for twelve whole days.
Starting the Story of Jesus
In the Bible there are four different books that tell the story of Jesus coming to us. They are called the “Gospels.” One is by Matthew, one by Mark, one by Luke, and one by John. Each one tells the story a bit differently.
Matthew and Luke start the story the way we expect: they tell about how Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem.
Mark starts the story much later, when Jesus is already grown up, and goes to be baptized in the Jordan River. We’ll hear that story next week.
This morning we hear the way the Gospel of John starts the story of Jesus coming to us.
John starts much much earlier—before the world was even created. Here’s how I think it happened.
A Divine Conversation
Long, long ago, back before you and me, back before the whole world, there was only God.
If God wanted to talk, there was only God to talk to.
And that was fine, because God is love. And because God is love, in our One God there is relationship.
- God the Father of the Son loves both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit
- God the Son of the Father loves both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
- And God the Holy Spirit loves both God the Father and God Son.
So God the Father said “I think I’ll make a world, all full of life and wonders!”
And God the Spirit answered “That’s a great idea! How will I do it?”
“Well,” God the Father said, “I’ll just speak the Word, and then it will be so.”
And God the Son answered, “Right! And I’ll be the Word that you speak.”
God the Father said, “Yes, you’ve been with me from before the beginning. And you are God.”
“Yes,” said God the Son, “speak me and I’ll bring everything into being.”
So God spoke the Word that had always been there with God, the Word who really was God.
Then everything in the world came into being because the Word was spoken—
- the stars and the galaxies
- the seas and the mountains
- the fish and the birds
- the you and the me.
God spoke the Word and all the life and all the wonders came to be.
A Bit of a Problem
God’s world was full of life and full of wonders. But God’s world was also full of problems.
So God the Spirit said “I think we need to do something to help our world.”
And God the Son said, “Yes. There seem to be so many problems.”
God the Spirit said, “People aren’t treating each other with love, respect, and kindness.”
And God the Son said, “They forget to care for each other and for our world.”
God the Father said, “Yes, they’ve even forgotten about us—they live as if there is no God.”
Then God the Son said, “That’s right. And so their lives are broken—there is so much suffering.”
And God the Father said, “It’s sad. We made people to reflect our love and wisdom and goodness, but now they don’t look like us at all.”
So God the Spirit said, “That’s why we need to help them. We need to heal them. We need to make them shine with our love, and wisdom, and goodness again.”
But God the Father said, “How can we do that?”
A Proposed Solution
Then God the Son said, “I know: I’ll go down and show them the way.”
And God the Father said, “That’s a great idea! You are the Word I spoke in the beginning. You can live, and speak, and be among them.”
God the Spirit said, “Yes. Knowing you they’ll know the way.”
And God the Father said, “Knowing you they’ll know the truth.”
Then God the Spirit said, “Knowing you they’ll know real life—maybe for the very first time.”
God the Son thought for a moment and then said, “Yes, I’ll go. I’ll be born as one of them. When I grow up they’ll know me–and knowing me they’ll know us.”
“Yes,” God the Father said. “And knowing God they’ll begin to look like us again.”
And so, as John says in his Gospel,
… the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14, NRSV
- I wonder what it was like when God spoke the Word, and the world came to be?
- I wonder how God felt when the world he created forgot to live as he planned?
- I wonder, when you know Jesus better, how your life will look more like his?
You are, of course, free to use this children’s sermon, or adapt it as you find most useful. But, if you use it, please do one (or more!) of the following.
- You can let me know that you are using it, either in the comments below, or using the contact form above.
- You can put a little notice in your church bulletin that your children’s sermon is adapted from one published on GaryNealHansen.com.
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