Here’s a Children’s Sermon on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, the Gospel for Ash Wednesday in all three years of the lectionary.
As I write, we are coming up on Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday before Lent. However, I’ve already written a children’s sermon on that text. (You can find it here. And you can find my regular Monday Meditation on that text here.) Actually, I already have posted a children’s sermon for Ash Wednesday, too, but it’s more an introduction to the day and how the Church marks it. (You can find that one here.)
This will be more my usual approach: a children’s sermon on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, and less focused on the day in the Church year. You could use whenever it suits your needs.
A Children’s Sermon on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
Hey, kids, I am so glad you are here in worship today. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon. Our story from the Gospel today is part of a long speech Jesus made when he was teaching.
Let’s imagine, though, that these bits of teaching came up as a conversation one day between Jesus and his friends.
One day Jesus was walking down the street with some of his friends.
“What’s that sound?” said James.
“It sounds like music,” said Mary.
“And it’s coming closer,” said Jesus.
There was definitely some people playing trumpets. But it wasn’t really very musical.
Pretty soon the sound was super close, and some people came around the corner.
“Toot TOOOOOOOT!” went the trumpets.
And right behind the trumpeters was someone very familiar to Jesus and his friends. It was their good friend Peter.
“Alms for the poor!” he called out “I’m giving alms for the poor! Hey poor people! Come here and I’ll give you some money!”
Jesus watched as a few people went up to Peter. They held out their hands, and Peter took out coins to hand to them.
“Here you go madame!” Peter said. “Here you go sir! Get your alms here! Poor people! Oh POOR people!”
“Peter,” said Jesus, “What exactly are you doing?”
“Can’t you tell?” asked Peter. “I’m trying really hard to be a good example.”
“An example of what?” asked Mary. “A big show-off?”
“No!” Peter said. “Jesus wants us to care for people who are poor, right? I’m showing how its done.”
Then he turned to the guys with the trumpets, and said, “Blow them again.” Then he called out again, “Alms for the poor! Get your alms here!”
Jesus put his arm around Peter’s shoulder and pulled him aside.
“Peter,” he said, “Let’s talk. You know it pleases God when we show love to people. And that includes caring for people who are poor.”
“Right!” said Peter. Then he called out, “Alms for the Poor!”
“Let me tell you a secret, Peter,” Jesus said. “God loves to reward people who do what pleases him.”
“Cha-ching!” said Peter. “Sign me up for the big rewards!” And again he called out, “Get your alms here!”
“But Peter,” Jesus said, “if you do it this way, there’s no reward from God.”
“What?” Peter asked. “Why not?”
“Because you’re not doing this to love people,” Jesus said. “You’re showing off to get people to admire you. That’s your whole reward.”
“Oh. So how should I do it?” Pete asked. “How do I make sure God rewards me?”
“Peter, can you keep a secret?” Jesus asked.
“Sure Jesus!” he said. “What’s the secret?”
“Giving to the poor,” Jesus said. “Keep it secret. Yes, you should give generously. But try to do it quietly—like, so only God knows about it.”
“Ah,” Peter said. “I get it. I’ll start doing my giving in secret.”
Then he turned to the guys with the trumpets. “Okay, get ready to blow your horns! A-one, and a-two, and a-“
“Toot TOOOOOOOOT!” went the trumpets.
And Peter called out, “Ladies and gentlemen! May I have your attention please! For my next act, watch me while I pray! Step right over to this street corer and hear what I say to God!”
“Peter!” shouted James and Mary at the same time.
“What?” Peter asked.
“Prayer is not a show,” Jesus said. “When you pray you’re talking to God. Only God needs to hear you. You shouldn’t aim to impress people.”
“Oh,” said Peter. “Secrets again?”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. “God sees all the secret things you do — when you are kind, or generous, or praying, or whatever. Do good things — but do them to please God, not the crowds.”
- I wonder how Peter felt when Jesus told him to do good things in secret?
- I wonder how God feels when we try to impress people with the good things we do?
- I wonder what it would feel like to do something good for someone without them even knowing?
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…)
Lana Parmenter says
I will be using your children’s sermon taken from Matthew 6: 1-6, on Sunday, February 26, 2023. I am doing the Children’s Moment during the morning worship service at First Presbyterian Church in Mexico, Mo. I like the story as told with children in mind. This lesson will corespondent beautiful with our pastor’s sermon. Thank you!