For the first Sunday after Christmas (this year the very day after Christmas) I bring you a children’s sermon on Luke 2:41-52. (You can find my regular Monday Meditation on this passage here.)
As texts for children’s sermons go, I think of this as low-hanging fruit.
- It’s a story
- It’s about a kid—about Jesus, no less, our only story of Jesus as an actual kid.
- Plus, it’s really funny.
Don’t get me wrong: the way Luke tells it, the story isn’t funny at all. I don’t think any of the Evangelists could tell a joke to save their lives.
But the story Luke tells, even in a flat and emotionless way, is in itself hilarious.
By the way, if you came here looking for a children’s sermon on the texts for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, I’m sorry. I’d love to do children’s sermons on those texts too, but this is not the year for me to do it.
My goal at the moment is to give you a children’s sermon on the gospel text for each Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary.
Maybe when I’m done with that I can expand to festival texts and even non-lectionary texts.
But this week? Too crazy. I’m so sorry. But, here you go with a children’s sermon on Luke 2:41-52.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 2:41-52
Good morning kids! It’s great to see you. I am so glad you are here in worship this morning. And I am so glad you came up for the children’s sermon.
Plus, I’m so glad we’re in the season of Christmas! Advent got us all prepared for the birth of Jesus, and then, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we celebrated.
Jesus is born! Hooray! That’s so cool!
Well, the church keeps celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus, for two more Sundays after Christmas Day. This week and next week too.
Jesus As A Kid
Today, the gospel reading isn’t about Jesus as a baby. Today we hear about Jesus as a kid–a big kid. In fact today’s gospel reading is the only story in the whole Bible about Jesus between when he was a little baby, and when Jesus was about thirty years old, all grown up.
In today’s story, Jesus is 12 years old. I don’t know if you have an older brother or sister who is about 12, but if you do, some of the things in this story may not be too surprising.
A Special Trip
Jesus lived in a town called Nazareth, with Mary, his mother, and Joseph, his adoptive father.
Every year, they all went to Jerusalem to celebrate the biggest holiday in the Jewish year: Passover. They went with friends. They went with relatives. They went with neighbors. It was lots of fun for the kids. They could see the sights. They could play with friends. Great times!
A Big Mistake
Well, when Jesus was twelve years old, once again they went on their Passover trip. They travelled all the way to Jerusalem. They shared the whole week of Passover celebrations. Then they packed up their stuff, and they headed back toward Nazareth with all their friends, and relatives, and neighbors.
Then a crazy thing happened.
Mary and Joseph were riding along on the seat of their wagon. The donkey pulling the wagon just followed the crowd, so they didn’t even need to steer.
“This is so great!” said Mary. “A little time for just the two of us!”
“Yeah,” Joseph said, quietly taking Mary’s hand. “It’s kind of like being out on a date together.”
Mary smiled, and looked at Joseph with her big brown eyes. “You know what else is great?” she asked.
“What’s that sweetheart?” Joseph said.
“Knowing that this is such a safe community to raise our boy in,” she said. “It’s like that old saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, our whole village is right here—friends, relatives, neighbors. Every wagon is full of people we trust, and they all love our boy Jesus.”
“Yep,” said Joseph. “It’s pretty great.”
“So Joseph,” said Mary, “Whose wagon did you let him ride in?”
“Who’s that, my love?” answered Joseph.
“Jesus,” she said. “Where did you send Jesus to ride? Was he playing with Samuel and Isaac again? They are such a nice family.”
“I didn’t send Jesus anywhere,” said Joseph. “I thought you were keeping track of him. Don’t you know where your son is?”
A Course Correction
They’d left Jerusalem early that morning. Now it was early afternoon, and neither one of them had any idea where their son was.
Kids, you try to imagine how your parents would feel if your family all went on vacation and they accidentally left you behind when they headed home.
Mary thought Joseph should have paid more attention.
Joseph thought Mary should know where her own son was.
They were grumpy.
They were angry
Actually, they were scared.
“Surely he’s with someone,” Joseph said. And he signalled all the wagons to stop.
Mary and Joseph asked all their friends, and all their family, and all their neighbors, but nobody had seen Jesus.
And then, Mary and Joseph were terrified.
They turned around and head back to Jerusalem as fast as their donkey would pull them.
Looking for Jesus
They got to Jerusalem in the evening, and asked the authorities, but they didn’t know where Jesus was.
All the next day, they looked in the marketplace and the shops, but there was no Jesus.
The day after that, they went door to door through the neighborhoods, but there was still no Jesus.
Finally Mary said, “Joseph, I think we need to pray. Only God can help us find Jesus.”
“You’re right” said Joseph. “Let’s go pray in the Temple. God will surely hear us there.”
So they made their way to the temple and went inside.
In the courtyard was a group of people talking and laughing. As they got closer they saw it was a group of teachers, old and learned.
As they came closer still, they saw there was a boy in the middle of the group.
And as they came right up to the group their hearts leapt for joy—it was Jesus!
Found At Last
Mary ran right through the group and pulled Jesus into her arms.
“Oh my son!” she said, the tears running down her cheeks, “You’re all right! We were so frightened! We thought we’d lost you forever!”
“Oh mom!” Jesus said. “How come you worry so much? Hello! This is my father’s house. I’m always at home here. I needed to tend to my father’s business.”
Mary held his shoulders and stared at him in wonder. “Yes, my son, that’s right. And do you know what else?”
“What mom?” asked Jesus.
“You are totally grounded.”
“Grounded!” said Jesus. “That’s no fair! How long am I grounded for?”
“Oh,” said Joseph, stroking his beard, “about twenty years, give or take. Long enough to grow a bit wiser.”
“And more responsible,” said Mary, taking Jesus by the hand and leading him toward the door.
And as he grew up, he did get wiser, and more responsible, and more loving. Everybody came to admire Jesus—his friends, and his relatives, and his neighbors. And God too.
- I wonder what was going through Joseph and Mary’s minds while they were looking for Jesus?
- I wonder what Jesus thought about Mary and Joseph during the days he was away from them.
- I wonder what Jesus and the teachers talked about all that time in the Temple.
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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