Think of this children’s sermon on Mark 6:14-29 as kind of experimental. Pretend even. It is a text I’d more likely avoid, rejoicing that the lectionary also provides Old Testament and Epistle readings.
But here on my blog I’m happy to see what I can do with any lectionary Gospel.
Here you go. Use with discretion.
You might say it’s one of the Bible’s “horror stories.” There is no “Go ye and do likewise” in this one.
You know how in most Bible study groups, the discussion ends on “application”? The question is always “How do I try to do this in my Christian life?” Not here.
Yes, this is a text in the Bible. No, you should not try this at home.
Here we need less “application” and more “reaction.” In a way that’s a good reminder: Obeying rules and imitation are not the main things for Christians. We live our Christian lives in conversation with the Bible, bringing its stories and teachings into our thinking as we seek to live wisely for the love of God.
Let me know what you think of the approach I take to this children’s sermon on Mark 6:14-29. How do you think the kids would respond? How do you think the parents would respond?
A Children’s Sermon on Mark 6:14-29
Hey, good morning kids! Thanks for coming up for the children’s sermon. I’m so glad you are here today.
We always read a story from the Gospels in our service. Usually the stories are about Jesus. But today’s story is really very strange. Even though the Gospels are the books about Jesus, Jesus doesn’t come into this story at all.
Instead, this a story about grown-ups doing very dumb things. Because you know, sometimes grown-ups really do some stupid stuff. We try. But a lot of the time we get it wrong.
And sometimes grown-ups give kids some very bad instructions.
A Birthday Party
Here’s the story:
There was this kid, who had a complicated family. Her name was Salome, and her step-dad was King Herod. Her mom used to be married to Herod’s brother, but both couples got divorced and Herod married his brother’s wife.
So anyway, on Herod’s birthday there was a big party. Salome really loved to dance, and so she came in to do a dance to entertain the guests.
Well Herod thought Salome’s dance was awesome. He said,
“Salome, you are an awesome dancer! I’m so proud of you. To reward you I want to give you a present. What do you want?”
Well Salome didn’t know what to say. It’s kind of awkward being asked what you want for a present in front of everybody at the king’s birthday party.
“Um… I don’t know?” she said.
“Well, think about it,” Herod said. “You can have anything! Almost anything… Let’s say anything you want up to half of my entire kingdom. How’s that sound?”
Well frankly Salome thought it sounded pretty awkward. And it was a pretty dumb thing for a grown-up to do, to publicly offer a gift of half of everything he owned.
“I think I need to ask my mom,” Salome said, and she rushed out of the room.
An Uncomfortable Decision
Well when Salome told her mom, her mom got a kind of wicked gleam in her eye.
“This is great, sweetie!” she said. “Now I can finally get rid of that rotten scoundrel John the Baptist!”
Salome’s mom was really mad at John the Baptist, because John had said that she wasn’t supposed to marry her first husband’s brother.
“Here’s what you do,” she said to Salome. “You go back to the party and tell your stepdad that the present you really, really want, more than anything else in the whole world, is John the Baptist’s head.”
Salome thought her mom must be joking.
“John the Baptist’s head? What? No, mom…”
“That’s right,” her mom said. “Have him bring it right away. Have him put it on a nice silver platter. You’ll get to keep the platter.”
Well Salome didn’t want to do it.
Salome’s mom had done a really rotten thing. Salome’s mom put Salome right in the middle of her own argument with her husband. She asked Salome do something very embarrassing and awful in front of a whole crowd of people. She used Salome to get someone killed.
“Mom I can’t!” Salome pleaded.
“Do it,” her mom said. “Now.”
Salome felt stuck. She didn’t know what to do to make it all okay. So Salome thought maybe the easiest way to get past it was to do what her mom said — even thought her mom was very very wrong.
A Really Gross Present
Salome told Herod she wanted John the Baptist’s head on a platter.
So Herod told his soldiers to go and get it.
And they did.
Then guess what everybody at the party said?
“Ew! Gross! Yuck!”
Say it with me:
“Ew! Gross! Yuck!”
So that’s the story of how John the Baptist died. And that’s a story about how sometimes grown ups do really dumb and awful things.
- I wonder what Salome felt and thought when her mother gave her that instruction?
- I wonder if you’ve ever noticed grown ups doing really dumb things?
- I wonder if you’ve ever been given an instruction that you really thought was the wrong thing to do?
- I wonder if there’s a way to stick close to God even when life is confusing and hard?
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.
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