I’ve been away from the old blog for a couple weeks, but I’m back with a children’s sermon on Luke 21:5-19. (You can see my regular “Monday Meditation” on this text here.)
I always miss writing here when I’m away, but speaking opportunities were beckoning. It is lovely that the world has opened up a bit so that groups are gathering in person, and guys like me get to travel to them. It was great fun to be with two different groups.
First I was giving two keynotes for the “Vital Congregations Initiative” of my own denomination, the PC(USA).
Then I preached, gave a keynote, and led a workshop for our theological kinfolk, the ELCA, at the “Bishop’s Convocation” of the Lower Susquehanna Valley Synod. Always a joy to talk to people about discipleship and prayer, modeling community life on the gospel, and on spiritual formation.
But now I’m back.
The challenge of apocalyptic
If you aren’t a regular here, I won’t be at all surprised if you found me on a Google search for “children’s sermon on Luke 21:5-19”. When the text is this dicey I sort of expect newcomers.
How do you speak to the kiddoes about a scene where Jesus is giving a list of signs that might indicate the end of the world as we know it?
Of course that same sense of dread might be inspired by a glance at any major newspaper.
And, of course, that’s just the point: Jesus is listing the kind of dreadful horrible stuff that strikes humanity on a regular basis, giving us the opportunity to wonder over and over if it’s maybe the end of the world.
So, going through those signs and portents might be just the thing — for the grown-ups. Chances are, the 3-10 year old crowd isn’t acutely aware of those dreadful doings in the news. They probably don’t need their pastor to set out to actually make them worried about the world coming to an end.
And, in fact, the need to not scare the kids is on-topic. Note please, that Jesus repeatedly tells his listeners that these things are not the end, and they should not be stirring up their own worries.
Really, though, quite apart from armageddon, there is a nugget in the middle of this passage that may be quite useful to a group of very young disciples. Maybe especially so in congregations and families that feel some of that apocalyptic urgency.
Let’s see where we go with a children’s sermon on Luke 21:5-19.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 21:5-19
Good morning, kids! I’m so glad to see you. It’s great that you came to worship this morning. And I’m especially glad that you came up to hear the children’s sermon.
One day, Jesus was sitting around with his friends. He looked at their faces and was a little surprised.
“Hey,” Jesus said, “you guys look like something’s gone wrong. I can’t tell whether you are really sad, or really worried. What’s up?”
Nobody said anything for a minute. But then Peter spoke up.
“We’re scared,” he said. “Lots of bad things are happening in the world.”
“I heard there’s a war down in Ethiopia,” said Philip. “But maybe it’s just a rumor.”
“And I heard there is a famine somewhere. Over in Babylon, I think,” said Martha.
“Plus there was that earthquake,” said Nathaniel. “Seems like the whole world’s falling apart.”
“Maybe the world’s coming to an end,” said John.
Jesus looked at them all with love in his big brown eyes. “Well I can see how scared you are. And those are some scary things. But it’s not the end of the world.”
“Oh, I’ve heard that expression,” said John. “Really, you should take it more seriously, Jesus.”
“Oh, I do take it seriously, John,” Jesus said. “I mean it: those scary things do not mean the world is coming to an end.”
What if we get arrested?
“But Jesus,” said Mary Magdalene, “remember what happened to John the Baptist? He got arrested, and they took him to Herod, and they threw him in jail and –“
“Well, that’s true, Mary,” Jesus said. “And if you follow me, they really might arrest you someday too. But it’s not the end of the world.”
“What?!?” cried Peter. “What do you mean we might get arrested? You never said following you would be dangerous!”
“Actually, I did tell you that,” Jesus said. “But anyway, what are you worrying about? What’s so terrible about getting arrested?”
They all thought about it for a minute.
“Well personally,” said Martha, “I think I’m mostly worried about being brought in front of a judge, or the mayor, and having to testify. I don’t know what I would say. I’m scared of talking in public!”
“Here’s my advice,” said Jesus. “If you get arrested, don’t worry about what you will say. Don’t even think about it.”
“But I’ll have to defend myself!” said Martha. “I think I’d better plan out something that sounds really smart.”
“Think of it this way, Martha,” said Jesus. “If you get arrested it will be because you belong to me. Right? I mean, you would never break the law.”
“That’s true,” said Martha. “But…”
“So if they arrest you because you belong to me, I promise that when you need to say something, I’ll give you exactly what you need to say.”
“But — I don’t know, Lord,” said Martha. “I’ve never been good at public speaking. All those people looking at me. I’ll get so nervous.”
How to be a witness
“Here’s the trick, Martha,” said Jesus. “Just tell them what you know about me. Whatever they ask, you just tell them something that you remember about our time together.”
“Oh!” Martha said. “Like when I made dinner for all of you and Mary wouldn’t help out. And I was so mad at her–“
“Yeah,” Jesus said, “like that.”
“Or when you didn’t show up and my brother Lazarus died,” Martha said. “I was so mad at you that time!”
“Well, yeah,” Jesus said. “But maybe you could also tell them what happened next.”
“Oh, right!” Martha said. “You opened the tomb and raised him from the dead! That was awesome!”
“I’m glad you remember,” Jesus said. “Just say what ever comes to mind. If you tell them about me, you’ll be just fine.”
“But what if they throw me in jail?” she asked.
“Well, that’ll be hard, I’m sure,” Jesus said. “But at least it’s not the end of the world.”
- I wonder if it helps to know that even when things are hard, the world isn’t coming to an end?
- I wonder if there will ever come a time again when people get arrested for following Jesus?
- I wonder what stories about Jesus you might tell if someone asked?
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…)
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