For the first Sunday of Advent, I bring you a children’s sermon on Luke 21:25-36. (If you are looking for my regular “Monday Meditation” on this passage, you can find it through this link.)
The folks who put together the Revised Common Lectionary were not thinking about the preachers of children’s sermons when they set this up. The whole Advent series needs a lot of careful explaining, even for grown ups. Heaven help the children.
The kids know the key thing already: Advent is about getting ready for the birth of Jesus. But in its very traditional way the lectionary starts us off with Jesus’ scary predictions of the end times.
It’s also a challenge to help kids get a sense of the flow of the Gospel story from week to week. A couple weeks back we had Mark’s version of some of the same end times stuff. Then last week it was Jesus talking to Pontius Pilate, technically a Good Friday text. And now, we’re back to the apocalypse.
I want to avoid making the run-up to Christmas seem frightening. It’s bad enough with the popular threats about Santa Claus. You know: “He sees you when you’re sleeping! He knows when you’re awake!” Plus, he’s keeping a tally of your behavior, so shape up.
(Personally I benefit more from the journey I take in my Advent class on lectio divina. We go through the great songs of Luke’s Gospel about the coming birth of Jesus—songs by Gabriel, Zechariah, Mary, and Simeon. And if that sounds good to you, there’s still time to sign up!)
But since your church works with the lectionary, and you need to talk to the kiddos this Sunday, here’s my children’s sermon on Luke 21:25-36.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 21:25-36.
Good morning kids! I’m so glad you are here today. thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
Today is a very special day in the church. Today is the first Sunday of Advent. It’s the beginning of a brand new year in the life of the church.
I think you may know what Advent is. Advent is the four weeks we spend getting ready for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Jesus’ birth is so important, so amazing, that we just have to spend time getting ready.
There is a funny thing, though, about how the church helps us get ready for Christmas.
Every year, on the first Sunday of Advent, the Gospel reading is a story of Jesus. But it isn’t the story of Jesus being born. That doesn’t come till Christmas. On the first Sunday of Advent, we hear Jesus talking about coming back at the end of the world.
Every year we start Advent with scary stories about things going wrong and people suffering. It might seem like a strange way to get ready for Christmas. But I think there is a reason.
Skipping to the Last Page
Maybe it’s like this: Sometimes, when people read story books, they read the last page before they actually read the middle. If the middle of the book is too scary, people want to know that it’s all going to be okay in the end. They want to know that their favorite character survives, and the story ends happily.
Sometimes real life is hard and scary too. Maybe sometimes you’d like to skip to the end and know that things are going to turn out okay for you.
Well, on the first Sunday of Advent, the church lets us flip to the end of the book, to the end of the story of our world. Yes, Jesus tells us, we are going to go through some hard things. But in the end, he’s going to come back. It’s all going to be okay. The story of this world has a happy ending.
Advice for the Meanwhile
In today’s reading, Jesus tells us that when we see bad things happening in the world, we can stand up and be hopeful. Seeing hard things happening means we are that much closer to the time when Jesus makes it all okay.
Here, and in just about all the places where Jesus talks about the end of the world, he has two pieces of advice.
- Jesus tells us to keep alert.
- And Jesus tells us to pray.
When things are hard for you or for the world, Jesus says the thing to do is pay close attention. He doesn’t want us to hide and be afraid. He wants us to look around and be ready to do whatever needs to be done.
And when things are hard for you or for the world, Jesus says the thing to do is to pray—to call out to God for help. Because God is always listening, and God always cares.
And God can send help from the most surprising places, in the most surprising ways. Sometimes God sends help from other people. And sometimes God sends help from deep inside you, where strength and courage come from.
- I wonder if thinking about Jesus coming back to us in the future is a good way to get ready to celebrate Jesus coming the first time, long ago?
- I wonder if it helps you when life is hard to know that the story of life has a happy ending?
- I wonder if when your life is hard whether it might help to keep alert and pray?
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.
- You can support my work over on Patreon. (Just $1 per month brings my children’s sermons straight to your inbox about two minutes after they go live. And every little bit keeps me going…)