We are coming up to the third Sunday of Lent, so I bring you a children’s sermon on Luke 13:1-9. (You can find my regular Monday Meditation on the same text here.)
Like last week, this passage has two very different parts. The first half is a snarky conversation between Jesus and some folks who came up to share some gory news. The second half is a parable.
Although learning to deal with the gory news stories that assault us all day is a crucial life skill, for kids I’m gonna go with the parable.
Like many of Jesus’ parables, this one gets pretty puzzling once you look closely. But still, stories are usually the way I like to go. And I think it needs to stay a bit ambiguous. The point of puzzling parables surely can’t be to reach perfect clarity. If Jesus wanted us to have perfect clarity he wouldn’t have made them so confusing. I think the point is to chew on them, live with them, wonder about them.
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A Children’s Sermon on Luke 13:19
Good morning kids! I’m so glad to see you. It is just so great that you are here in worship this morning. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today is the Third Sunday in Lent. Lent is the season before Easter. We spend 40 days, plus six Sundays, getting ready for Easter. Jesus died on Good Friday, but on Easter Sunday he was alive again—and he gave us the wonderful gift of new life, real life, forever life with God.
So on the Sundays of Lent, our Gospel readings show us different things that help us get ready for Easter
How Does God Feel About Us?
One day, Nathaniel and Mary Magdalene were having an argument. They were getting kind of loud, actually. Jesus heard them. He came over to see if he could help.
“What’s up, my friends?” said Jesus. “Sounds like you’re having an argument.”
“We are” said Mary. “Man, I can’t believe how dumb he is.”
“Oh yeah?” said Nathaniel. “Well, I can’t believe how dumb you are!”
“Okay, Okay,” said Jesus. “Please don’t say mean things about each other. Just tell me what you’re fighting about.”
“He doesn’t understand God,” said Mary.
“Yes I do!” said Nathaniel. “She does it understand God.”
“Wow,” said Jesus. “How about you each tell me what you think about God.”
“I say God is fed up with the world,” said Nathaniel “Nobody lives God’s way! I say someday God is going to squash us all like bugs.”
“And you?” Jesus said to Mary. “What do you think?”
“I say God loves us,” she said. “I think he’s being really patient with the world, hoping we’ll all start living the way he planned.”
“What do you say, Jesus?” Nathaniel asked, “Is God going to finally going to get rid of the world? I mean, there are so many people doing such rotten stuff. They start wars, and they hurt each other…”
“Or” said Mary, ”Is God still hoping we’ll finally start loving him and being kind to each other?”
“I wonder,” said Jesus.
“But don’t you know?” they asked.
A Story of a Frustrated Farmer
“Let me tell you a story,” he said. “Once upon a time, there was a farmer. The farmer owned a Vineyard where he grew grapes to make wine.”
“Jesus?” said Mary, “Is the farmer supposed to be God in this story?”
“I wonder,” said Jesus. Then he looked at them, with a twinkle in his eye, till they were quiet again.
“The farmer decided to plant a fig tree in the middle of his vineyard.”
“Why would he plant a fig tree in a vineyard?” asked Mary.
“Maybe he thought his grapes would grow better in the shade,” said Nathaniel.
“I wonder,” said Jesus. “Or maybe he just liked figs. Anyway, every year he came to see if there was fruit on the tree. But for three long years there was not one single fig.”
“Oh man!” said Nathaniel. “He must have been so mad!”
“I wonder,” said Jesus. “He definitely got tired of waiting. He told one of his vineyard workers, ‘Cut down that fig tree and plant something else. Why should this tree use up the soil if it won’t give me any figs?’ “
“I bet the farmer in this story really is supposed to be like God,” said Nathaniel. “I say God feels that way about the world. It’s time to wipe it out and start over!”
A Story of a Patient Vineyard Worker
“I wonder,” said Jesus. “Well, the worker in the vineyard didn’t feel that way. He was much more patient. He said to the farmer, ‘Don’t give up yet! Give it just one more year, okay? I’ll put fertilizer on it, and I’ll prune it, and I’ll water it. Maybe it will make figs after all! Just give it a chance, please?’”
“Aha!” said Mary. “The farmer isn’t God. He’s too impatient, and mean. I say the vineyard worker is God. He loves the tree and he’s patient and kind—just like you, Jesus!”
Jesus said, “I wonder.”
- I wonder why Jesus told stories that are hard to understand?
- I wonder if there are things we do that make God impatient?
- I wonder if it helps you get ready for Easter to think of God being patient and giving you another chance?
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