My, how nice it is to be back with you, writing a children’s sermon on Luke 14:25-33! I’ve been away for a few months due to a short-term pastoral assignment and a family move. Now we’re settled (sort of) and I’m back in action.
If you had come to depend on my children’s sermons, please accept my apologies.
And if you are new here, welcome! My practice is to send out a children’s sermon, almost always in storytelling form, on the Gospel text assigned in the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. This week that’s Luke 14:25-33.
Choosing My focus
To preach a children’s sermon on Luke 14:25-33 the first step is to decide which part to focus on. A children’s sermon needs to be pretty short, and it needs to focus on making one point.
This passage includes a bit of declarative teaching plus a couple little parables, so most of it has to be left out. It isn’t that I’m against those other parts. They’ll just be dealt with on some other occasion.
I’m going to leave behind the opening declarations. What Jesus says is very eye-catching, but little kids are pretty literal-minded. Helping them see the nuances of “hate your mother and father” would take way too much time.
That leaves me with the two semi-parables, both again on the cost of discipleship.
I say “semi” because they don’t follow the usual pattern of telling a story (“A sower went out to sow…”) or the alternate style of an extended object metaphor (“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…”). Instead, in these, the stories are implied in negative case studies: “Which of you… Or what king…”
To do this in storytelling form I’ll need to slightly re-imagine the teaching, recasting it so that it really is a story. And we’ll still have to make the metaphorical comparison work for kids. Hmm… Let’s see how it goes.
A Children’s Sermon on Luke 14:25-33
Good morning, kids! I’m so glad you are here in worship this morning. Thanks for coming up to hear the children’s sermon.
One day, Jesus was talking to a crowd of people. He taught for a long time. Then, when everybody was heading home, he noticed one man standing nearby, looking kind of nervous.
“Thanks for coming,” Jesus said. “Did you want to talk about something?”
“I heard you talking last week at the synagogue,” he said. “So I came today to hear more. And, well, um — I’ve decided I want to be one of your disciples.”
“Are you sure?” asked Jesus.
“What do you mean, ‘Am I sure?’” asked the man. “I thought you’d just say ‘Hey, thanks, welcome aboard!’”
Jesus said, “Well, yes, I’m glad you want to be my disciple. That’s great. But deciding to my disciple is kind of a big deal. I want to make sure you’re really ready.”
“Ready for what? I figured I’d just come listen to you when you come to our village.”
“Well,” said Jesus, “a lot of times when I invite people to be my disciples I say ‘Follow me!’ Then they leave whatever they are doing, and we go around together, helping people and teaching about the kingdom of God.”
The man looked kind of shocked. “What? Like full time?” he asked. “You mean they leave their families and their jobs and stuff?”
“Well yeah,” Jesus said, “that’s how it’s worked so far.”
“Oh,” said the man. “I guess I could give that a try — for a week or so.”
“Actually,” Jesus said, “being my disciple is more of a forever thing. If you start, you have to stick with it for the rest of your life.”
“Oh, wow,” he said. “I don’t know…”
“Maybe you should talk to some of my other disciples,” Jesus said. “There’s Peter and John, and over there are Mary and Martha.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Jesus. I’m kind of nervous talking to strangers. Could you maybe just tell me a bit more yourself?”
“Sure,” said Jesus. “But if you are going to be my disciple I’m going to ask you to do other things too. Some of them might feel a little scary, at least the first time — even scarier than talking to my other disciples.”
“Hmm…” said the man. “That doesn’t sound so good. I’m not sure…”
“Well,” said Jesus, “I always say you should count the cost. Let me tell you a story.”
Building a Tower
Once upon a time, there was there was this man named Micah who had a house in the middle of town. He had neighbors on every side.
One day he thought to himself, ‘I know! I’ll build a big tower in my front yard. Then I’ll have a great view.’
So right away, he set to work. He dug a great big hole, way down deep in his front yard, for the foundation. Then he took big stones and started laying them in a thick layer, putting cement between each stone.
Looking for Stones
But pretty soon, he ran out of stones. So he went to one of his neighbor’s house and knocked on the door.
‘Hey Judith!’ he said. ‘Do you have any stones?’ He held his hands out to show how big the stones needed to be. ‘You know, about yay big?’
‘Hi Micah,’ Judith said. ‘Stones you say? Well we have one or two that big in our garden. I guess you can have them. What do you need stones for?’
‘Oh, Judith,’ Micah said, ‘I’m building this big huge tower in my front yard.’
‘A tower?’ Judith asked. ‘What do you need a tower for?’
‘It’s gonna be so great!’ he said. ‘I’m going to sit up there and have my coffee in the morning. I’m gonna look out and see the lakes and watch the boats sailing around. Or I’ll look the other way at the hills and watch the seasons change. It’s gonna be amazing!’
Well, Micah got those two stones from Judith, and he put them in place in the foundation.
Then he went to his other neighbors, one by one. Some offered a stone or two. Some didn’t have any. But Micah put them all in place in the foundation.
Then that evening, all his neighbors came out to see how the tower was coming along.
‘Not quite a tower yet, is it?’ asked one neighbor.
‘Looks more like a swimming pool with a stone bottom,’ joked another. ‘When you going to build the tall part?’
Micah said, ‘I don’t actually know. I kind of ran out of stones.’
Judith said, ‘I think you better go down to the quarry and buy some more.’
‘Buy stones?’ said Micah. ‘I can’t afford to buy stones. I thought…’
‘You better at least try,’ said Judith. ‘You must have some money saved up — I mean, a big building project like this costs a lot. How much money do you have?’
‘Well,’ said Micah, ‘We did save up a bit this year. But most of it is for food for this winter. And the rest is to send the kids to school. I guess I didn’t plan very well.’
Everybody was quiet for a bit. Then they all headed home.
Micah never did build his tower. But sometimes he would overhear his neighbors laughing about how he had that crazy hole lined with stones in his front yard.
Counting the Cost
“Jesus,” asked the man, “why did you tell that story?”
“To show how it’s important to think ahead before you take on a big project.”
“But I don’t want to build some crazy tower,” said the man. “I want to be your disciple.”
Jesus looked at the man with his big brown eyes all full of love, and said, “Being my disciple is an even bigger project than building a tower. Are you ready to make that choice?”
“I don’t know…” said the man. “It kind of sounds like you don’t want me to be your disciple.”
“Oh, I do,” said Jesus. “But I want you to know what it really takes — because I want you to be my disciple forever.”
- I wonder whether that man decided to become one of Jesus’ disciples?
- I wonder what Jesus might ask of me or you if we decide to be his disciples?
- I wonder how we might think about what it really will cost us to follow Jesus, and live his way, forever?
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