Writing a children’s sermon on John 15:9-17 is challenging in a familiar way. The text is part of a longer speech, and has no real narrative to it.
- Stories about Jesus are easier.
- Stories Jesus told are really quite easy.
- Bits of teaching that can be woven into a narrative, either straight out of the biblical context of straight out of my imagination are pretty workable.
Conceptual teaching? That’s a harder thing.
It’s hard in the same way that it’s hard to write children’s sermons on Paul’s letters–or a great deal of other biblical material.
However: It’s mostly challenging if the only mode you choose to use in a children’s sermon is story telling.
If you are a regular here, you know I totally favor story telling for children’s sermons. Just tell the biblical story, and help kids wonder about it. Your children’s sermon will be really helpful.
But as a pastor I’ve often preached on non-narrative passages. And when I do, I still want to do what I think of as my first priority in a children’s sermon: I want to help the kids understand and wonder about the morning’s biblical text.
For non-narrative texts, usually I bring to my aid another pair of principles:
- Make one point from the text.
- Make it in a way kids can understand.
You are, of course, free to use this children’s sermon, or adapt it as you find most useful. But please, if you use it, 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 it is adapted from one published on GaryNealHansen.com.
- You can support my work over on Patreon. (Every little bit keeps me going…)
A Children’s Sermon on John 15:9-17
Hey, good morning! I’m so glad you are here today.
This morning, instead of telling you a story, I want to tell you about something Jesus told his friends after they shared the Last Supper.
It was an important night: It was their very last evening together before Jesus went to the Cross. I think Jesus wanted to say some very important things to them before he left them on their own.
I wonder if Jesus’ friends were worried.
I wonder if they were wondering why Jesus had them follow him for three years. He had taught them so much — but now he was going to leave them behind.
Maybe you wonder sometimes why Jesus calls you to follow him.
He does call you, you know. He wants each of us to stick close to him and belong to him for all of our lives.
Maybe you wonder why Jesus wants us to stick close to him always.
When Jesus talked to his friends that night, he had an answer for that question. Here’s what he said. He called them and he taught them, he said,
…so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:11 NRV
Maybe you thought what Jesus really wanted was for us to behave better.
Maybe you thought Jesus came to change the world and make it more fair.
Or maybe you thought Jesus came for some other reason.
But Jesus himself said that he wanted you to have more joy. He wanted to give you a gift: His very own joy.
Jesus wants you to have a lot of that gift: He wanted your joy to be full.
So how do you suppose we get all that joy that Jesus wants to give us?
Do you and I feel totally joyful every hour of every day?
No. Sometimes life is really hard.
I’ll tell you a secret though: Jesus told us a way to have more joy as we go through life.
He said it comes through living the way we are created to live.
He came and loved people. He cared for them when they were lonely. He fed them when they were hungry. He helped them when they were hurting.
That was Jesus showing us how we were created to live.
Then he turned it into an instruction:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12 NRSV
That’s the way Jesus says we’ll find his joy inside ourselves.
Every time you show love toward other people, you are living the way Jesus showed us. And that’s the way we find his joy.
Maybe not right away. Maybe not every hour. Maybe not every day. Maybe not every time.
But in the long run, the more you love like Jesus loved, the more joy there will be — for you and for the world.
- I wonder why it is that showing love leads to joy?
- I wonder if the people who showed us love this week feel joy?
- I wonder who you might show love to this week?
If you enjoy these weekly meditations and children’s sermons the coming Sunday’s texts would you consider supporting the project over on Patreon? Even $1 a month is a huge encouragement.
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