Here you go: a children’s sermon on Luke 1:39-57 for the 4th Sunday of Advent. (You can find my regular Monday Meditation on this text here. One of my better efforts, actually, so check it out.)
The lectionary has just the initial encounter of Mary with Elizabeth as the text for Sunday. Mary’s song is optional. But a children’s sermon on just Luke 1:39-45 seems truncated. Isn’t it kind of great that once they meet, Mary bursts into song? How can I leave that out?
But including the Song of Mary presents problem too. I’m not going to sing it. What tune would I use?
It’s a wonderful scene, though. The meeting of these two women with miracle pregnancies is so brief in Luke’s telling that I hardly have time to take it in. That’s part of the joy of writing a children’s sermon on Luke 1:39-57. I get to slow down and relish it—I can ponder these things in my heart, as Luke would say.
The process is akin to St. Ignatius of Loyola’s famous “prayer of the senses.” I have to enter the story as fully as I can, imagining all the missing details that would be evident if I were really there.
As always, you can be the judge of my success on this process!
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 1:39-57
Good morning, kids! I’m so glad to see you. It’s wonderful that you are here for worship. And it’s great that you came up for the children’s sermon.
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. And that means today is the very last Sunday of Advent. It is our last Sunday morning to get ready for Jesus’ birth.
I think Advent has been kind of a backward journey to Bethlehem. We’re trying to get ready to welcome the baby Jesus, right?
But the first Sunday of Advent we heard about the future, waiting for Jesus to come back at the end of the age.
Then the second and third Sundays of Advent we heard about John the Baptist, waiting for Jesus to do his work as a grown up.
Finally, today, we get to think about Jesus coming as a little baby. Our Gospel story is about Jesus’ mother, Mary as she waits for Jesus to be born.
Mary and Elizabeth
An angel had visited Mary to tell her she was going to have God’s own baby—Jesus.
That same angel told Mary that her older aunt Elisabeth was also going to have a baby. Everyone was surprised because they all thought Elizabeth was way too old to have a baby.
So, Mary decided to go visit Elizabeth. They could probably help each other. Both women were pregnant. One was too young. One was too old. They needed each other’s support.
A Surprising Welcome
Now just picture Mary heading to her old Aunt Elizabeth’s house up in the hill country.
- Do you suppose she rode a donkey?
- Maybe someone gave her a ride in a wagon?
- Or do you suppose she walked all the way into the hill country by herself?
However she got there, Mary went up to the door. Imagine it was a hot day. Imagine the door was open to let the breeze come on.
Mary waited, but no answer came.
“Aunt Elizabeth!” she called. “Aunt Elizabeth!”
“Mary?” came a voice. “Mary? Is that you, child?”
And then Elizabeth came from around the back of the house where she’d been working in her garden.
Mary remembered seeing Aunt Elizabeth as a little old lady, so thin, almost frail. Now she was surprised to see Elizabeth’s tummy. It was huge! Her baby was really growing inside. When they hugged, Elizabeth had to sort of lean over to put her arms around Mary.
“Oh my goodness!” said Elizabeth. “Did you feel that?”
“Feel what?” asked Mary.
“My baby!” said Elizabeth. “He sort of jumped inside my tummy! You know what I think?”
“What?” asked Mary.
“I think my baby recognized your baby! He knew that your baby is going to be the Messiah! I think he jumped for joy!”
And they both laughed, they were so happy to be moms together.
A surprising response
In fact Mary was so happy she started singing a song. I don’t know the tune, but Mary sang and sang.
She sang about being thankful for the very special role God had given her as Jesus’ mom.
She sang about how wonderful God was for showing showing kindness to people who loved and honored God.
She sang of how amazing God was for giving us Jesus, whose Kingdom would change everything.
- Humble people would be honored.
- Powerful people would find out how weak thy really are.
- Poor people would now be filled with good gifts.
- Rich people would be sent away with no gifts.
“Wow!” said Elizabeth. “That was an amazing song. Did that just come to you all of a sudden? Or were you thinking about that during your trip?”
“Maybe a little bit of both,” said Mary.
And they both laughed again, and felt grateful.
- I wonder what Mary was feeling during her long trip to see her cousin?
- I wonder what it was like for Elizabeth to feel John the Baptist jumping inside her tummy?
- I wonder what Mary felt, knowing that her baby would bring the Kingdom of God?
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.
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