There’s hardly a need for an introductory word when I’m preparing a children’s sermon on Luke 18:1-8. Sometimes the lectionary pitches one right over the plate. Or maybe I should say the Gospel does. (Alas, I have no regular “Monday Meditation” to link to on this one.)
Luke 18:1-8 is often called “the parable of the importunate widow” or “the unjust judge.” By Luke’s description it would be more aptly called “a parable about prayer.”
Anyway, I took the last couple weeks away from blogging, as I ramped up for, and then recovered from, some surgery. I seem to have full use of my brain again, thank God, though I’m still waiting for my body to catch up.
So here we go with a children’s sermon on Luke 18:1-8
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 18:1-8
Good morning kids! I’m so happy you are here in worship today. And I’m really glad you came up for the children’s sermon.
One day Jesus was talking to his friends.
“You know,” said Mary Magdalene, “sometimes I get really discouraged.”
“Why’s that, Mary?” asked Jesus.
“There are things I’ve been asking God about for a long time. I pray, and I pray, and nothing changes. Sometimes I wonder if God even hears me.”
“Ah,” said Jesus. “That’s hard. I see your point. Let me tell you a story…”
The Widow and the Judge
Once upon a time there was a very powerful man. He was the most powerful person in his city. He was The Judge.
He had a big fancy chair, up on a platform by the city gate. He sat up there all day in his elegant judge’s robes. People came to him from all around the city to solve their legal problems.
One day, as he sat there, he looked at the line of people waiting to talk to him, and he thought to himself, “My goodness it is nice to have such an important job. All these people, with so many problems, and they all look up to me for help. I must be very special!”
“Excuse me, sir,” came a voice from down by his feet. It was a little old lady. Her hair was all grey. Her back was bent, and she leaned on a cane.
“Excuse me, your honor, but my neighbor is causing me trouble. He’s supposed to be renting my field and sharing the harvest with me. But now he says it’s his field, and he won’t give me anything!”
The judge looked at the long line of people waiting and said, “Okay, I’ll look into the problem. Come back next week. No promises.”
The guards came up and made the woman move out of the way.
Later that Morning…
Just before lunch time, the judge heard a familiar voice. “Excuse me, sir!”
He looked down. It was the little old lady again.
“Your honor, I really need your help. I’m a widow, and I have no relatives. My neighbor is stealing my property, and he’s not giving me the harvest. Look, I have the contract right here!” and she waved a piece of paper for the judge to see.
“Very well, give me that,” he said. “I’ll take a look. Please come back in a week. No promises.”
But after the judge’s lunch break he heard a tapping — a banging, really. It was that same old widow, and she was smacking his chair with her cane.
“Excuse me, sir!” she said.
“Didn’t I tell you to come back in a week? This is the second time you’ve been here today.”
“No, your honor,” she said.
“What?!?” raged the judge. “You dare contradict me? Don’t you know I’m the most powerful person in this city?”
“Yes, I know, your honor,” she said. “But I’ve actually been here, before you, THREE times today. It’s because you are so powerful that I keep coming. I really need your help, or I’m going to starve.”
“Well,” said the judge, “I see. As I said before, come back next week. I’ll look into it. No promises.”
The guards took the woman away again but, as soon as they weren’t looking, she got back in line.
Later that Afternoon…
Before the end of the day, there she was, standing before the judge.
“There she is again!” thought the judge. “This old widow is going to drive me crazy. I have to do something to get her to leave me in peace!”
“Excuse me, sir!” came the voice of the little old lady.
“Ah,” said the judge. “You again. Well I’ve come to a decision: your contract is valid and will be enforced. The guards here will take you home and make sure your neighbor gives you the harvest. And they’ll put up clear property markers so that he can’t claim your land.”
And the widow walked away happy.
A Story about Prayer
“What do you think of my story, Mary?” asked Jesus.
“Well, it’s pretty good, Lord,” she said. “I’m glad the widow got some help in the end. But why did you tell me that story?”
“Because,” said Jesus, “I want you to know that you should always pray, and I hope you never get discouraged. After all, that widow got what she needed from the judge, right?”
“Yeah, sure,” said Mary, “but am I supposed to think God is like that rotten old judge? That doesn’t seem right.”
“No, God is kind and generous,” said Jesus. “God actually loves you.”
“So why the story about begging from a stingy and mean judge?” she asked.
Jesus said, “Look: Even a mean, stingy, rotten, selfish judge will give in when someone keeps bugging him. You are praying to the God who loves you. Just imagine how much more willing to help God is than that judge was!”
“So why doesn’t God answer my prayers more quickly?” asked Mary. “If God is so generous and loving, why do I have to beg and beg?”
“That’s a good question,” said Jesus. “What I’ll tell you is this: God always wants to hear from you. You can always talk to God about what you need, no matter how long you’ve been needing it. And sometimes God responds in very surprising ways.”
- I wonder how the old widow in the story felt when she had to keep coming back?
- I wonder if you have things you’ve been asking God about for a long time?
- I wonder how it feels to think of God as generous and loving instead of stingy and mean?
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