Writing a children’s sermon on Matthew 10:40-42 (which comes up the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost in “Year A” of the Revised Common Lectionary) is kind of challenging.
First, the text is really short. Just three verses!
Second, it has no narrative action.
Stories are far easier than non-narrative texts as a base for a children’s sermon. You can retell a story, and kids will be drawn to listen.
And you can expand and embellish, creating a kid-friendly context from a biblical story — which I find quite natural, since biblical stories tend to be very lean on details.
Fleshing the story out with details, dialogue, and feelings, allows you to make a particular point from the story stand out much more than if you simply read the biblical text to the kids.
With kids, I’d say it is more effective to make the point stand out in the story you tell than to direct their attention to the point with explanations and exposition.
So what to do with Matthew 10:40-42? Sometimes it helps to turn a lengthy speech by Jesus into a bit of dialogue with the disciples.
A Children’s Sermon on Matthew 10:40-42
Do you remember how two weeks ago I told you about the time when Jesus was getting ready to send his friends out on a mission trip?
- He told them what they should do.
- He told them what they should bring along.
- He told them what they should leave behind.
- He told them how to find friendly people to stay with.
Well, he went on telling them about the upcoming mission trip for a long time — for a whole chapter of the Bible!
As he got near the end, they realized it was getting close to time to leave for their mission trip. Then, they started to worry.
“Jesus?” asked Peter, “What if we go into a town and nobody wants us? That’s gonna feel really bad.”
Jesus looked gently at Peter with his big brown eyes. “Well, Peter,” he said gently, “sometimes that will happen. Some people won’t want you to come to their towns. Some won’t want to hear you talk about the kingdom of Heaven. Some won’t want to let you pray for them and heal them. But can I tell you a secret?”
“Okay,” said Peter, “what it it?”
“They won’t always be mean to you. Sometimes people will open their arms wide and welcome you. They’ll let you stay in their houses. They’ll feed you meals. They’ll listen to you when you teach. They’ll want you to pray for them so God can heal them.”
“Wow,” said Peter. “That will feel really good.”
“Yeah,” said John. “That’s really generous. Should we, like, maybe do something to thank them?”
“That’s a good idea, John,” said Jesus. “It’s always helpful to say thank you when someone does something kind for you. You can also give them a message from me.”
“What is the message?” John asked.
“Tell them that when they welcome you, I feel like they are actually welcoming me. And when they welcome me, my Father feels like they are actually welcoming him.”
“So let me get this straight,” said Thomas. “When we go out into the world, if people listen to us or give us a meal they are actually doing something nice to God?”
“That’s right, Thomas,” said Jesus. “And when you do something kind, God feels like you do it to him. Just imagine how great God feels when people do kind things to him!”
“Yeah,” said Thomas, “but that’s only when people do really big things — right?”
“Nope,” said Jesus. “Even really little things. If someone gives you even a glass of cold water on a hot summer day, my Father and I will reward them just as if they gave it to us.”
Thomas thought about that for a minute. Then he said, “Lord, you have officially blown my mind.”
- I wonder if someone has ever offered you a warm welcome, or given you something good to drink when you were thirsty.
- I wonder if you’ve ever welcomed someone who was new in your school or your neighborhood.
- I wonder if you’ve ever brought someone some food or a glass of water?
- I wonder how big a smile God had on his face when you welcomed someone or someone welcomed you!
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