While one can make a coherent sermon for grown-ups on Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52, a children’s sermon is a different thing. The passage has five short parables, each telling us something different about what the kingdom of heaven is like. I decided to choose one, and make it a children’s sermon on the parable of the yeast.
If I tried to tell the kids all the stories, they’ll have to be way too brief — Jesus himself gives each one just a verse or two.
So my plan is to take just one short parable and have some fun with it. I’ve done each of these as a bedtime story for my kids to their general amusement (and hopefully their edification) a number of times.
I was tempted to do the mustard seed, but I suspect that my version would look a whole lot like the one in the book Young Children and Worship — which is the best resource I know for examples of how to tell Bible stories for children that invite them to wonder at God’s word.
So instead I’ll do the yeast. It will have to be shorter than the version I tell my kids, but so it goes.
Yes, of course you may use this children’s sermon in worship, or with your own kids. But if you do, please do me the kindness of sending me an email to let me know how it goes.
A Children’s Sermon on the Parable of the Yeast
Jesus loved to tell his friends stories. I like to imagine Jesus and his friends sitting around a camp fire at the end of the day, just before they all went to bed. They would be talking about the day, and joking around.
Then someone, maybe Andrew, would ask: “Jesus, tell us a story!”
“Sure Andrew,” Jesus would say. “What kind of story do you want?”
“Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like,” he would say.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast,” said Jesus.
“Yeast?” asked Thomas. “You mean the stuff that makes flour into bread dough? How can the kingdom of heaven be like that?”
“Bear with me,” said Jesus, “and I’ll tell you a story.
“There was this woman in a village, and she had some yeast. She was kind of worried about her yeast. ‘What if someone tries to take all my yeast? How would I make bread for my family?’
“She thought and she worried. She worried and she thought. Then she had an idea: ‘I know! I’ll hide my yeast. Then it will be safe.’
“But then she had another problem. ‘Where should I hide my yeast? Hmm… I could hide it in the cupboard — but then the mice might eat it. I could hide it in the well — but then it would get all soggy. I know! I’ll hide it in the flour bin!’
“So that’s what she did. She had a big barrel full of flour. It was about 60 pounds of flour — enough flour to last her family a very long time. The woman took her yeast, and she buried it in the flour. And then she went off to bed.”
The Rest of the Story…
That’s about where Jesus’ story ends. But I’ve always wondered what happened afterward. Here’s what I imagine.
When she woke up in the morning she put her feet on the floor. Something was wrong. It felt all soft and squishy. She looked down and what do you suppose she saw?
The floor of her little room was covered with puffy spongy bread dough.
Bit by bit, the yeast had turned all that flour into bread dough. And when yeast turns flour into bread dough, it gets bigger… and bigger… and bigger.
The floor of the whole house was covered in bread dough. It had all come bubbling out of the flour barrel, and now it was everywhere.
“Oh no!” she said. “What am I going to do with all this bread dough?”
In her village there was one community oven, where everyone did their baking. She picked up her biggest bowl and filled it with dough. She ran to the community oven and said “Help! Can you shape this into loaves and bake it for me? Thanks!”
Then she ran like the wind to her neighbor’s house. “Quick! Bring your biggest bowl and take some of this dough to the oven!”
Her neighbor was confused. “Okay, but what are you going to do with all the bread?” she asked.
“I’m giving it to you! I made way too much!”
So her neighbor took a big bowl of dough to the village oven too.
But still the house was full of bread dough. So she went from house to house, and got all her neighbors to take big bowls of dough.
When all the dough was gone from her house, and everyone had great stacks of crusty brown loaves, the air was filled with the beautiful smell of fresh-baked bread. Everyone stood around talking.
“Hey!” said someone. “Let’s have a feast!”
So each household brought something to share — meat, vegetables, soup — and they all ate together. They all talked about the wonderful accidental bread. They all laughed about the woman’s houseful of dough. They all had enough, and more to share.
And that’s what the kingdom of heaven is like.
- I wonder if you’ve ever seen how yeast turns flour into dough.
- I wonder what it felt like for the flour to turn into dough.
- I wonder what God puts in your life that might grow like yeast.
- I wonder what God’s yeast might grow you into.
- I wonder what you might do with all the good things that God grows in your life.
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