Children’s Sermon, 4th Sunday after Epiphany – Matthew 5:1-12

Prepare: You really don’t need anything for the children’s sermon, but if you want to have something (I find it works better to have something to show), find something that says “hope” on it.

 As the children gather, invite them to talk about what they hope for.  Give them a little time to think, and a little space to enjoy being hopeful.

  Those are fun things to hope for!  I wanted to think about hope today because I hear “hope” in the Gospel today.  The Gospel story that we hear today is often called the Beatitudes.  There are whole books written about this little story in the Bible. People wondering who Jesus was talking about and why.  People wanting to point out who is on each side of the sayings – these people are poor, so Jesus must be talking about them.  Or, when I’m sad I know that I am one who is mourning.

I hear many of those things in this story, too! But I also hear a message of hope.  At different times in my life I think that I have been on both sides of all of these sayings.  I have been merciful, but I have been mean, too.  I have been poor, and I’ve had more than I needed. I have been happy and sad.  I have been put down because of what I believe, and I have put others down for what they believe. When I think about it like that I start to see this a little differently.

No matter who you are, no matter what is going on, there is always room for hope.  Hope doesn’t always mean that you are going to get what you want – hope is more like a sparkling of something that keeps you going. Jesus gives us hope that when we feel like we are at the bottom – under a pile of worry and sadness, we can still rise up out of it.

 God of hope, be with us when everything seems to be going wrong. Give us hope to see a better way forward.  Joyful God, be with us when everything seems to be going right and help us remember your love for the times when we need hope the most. Amen.

 Jesus loves you in the good times and in the bad times.

  What do you really hope for?  Ask the congregation this question and offer a chance to put into prayer.  One way to do this is to have paper handy for everyone, invite them to write their hopes on the paper, then collect it and read it as part of the prayers of the church.

You could also form prayer circles if you have room and time!  Have people gather in groups of 4 to 8 (no more than that!) and offer hopes within the small group.

Children’s Sermon — God’s People Caught in Light and Love Matthew 4:12-23

Gather the children with you. If you can get a big net or even a small one as a visual that is good. If not, it’s ok to to just describe it. Ask the children if they have ever seen a big fishing net? How many fish do you think it can catch? Some big fishing boats can get 100,000 fish a day! What kind of fish do you think they catch? Yes they may be trying to get a certain kind of fish but when they put out the net and scoop it up, they will catch whatever kind of fish are together in that area.

In today’s story, Jesus is calling his disciples, so inviting specific people to follow him and help him share about and tell God’s love to all the people. He goes out to towns and areas where people who do not know about God are told that they too are a part of God’s children and a part of God’s love. So Jesus wants to catch all kinds of people to hear about God. So I was looking around at everyone here up front and you have something the same–you are all kids! Wonderful children of God! Now look behind you, is everyone out there a kid? No! Are they all the same age? Look around the whole room, are we all exactly the same kind of person? No! But does God want to catch us all? Yes, God wants us all to be caught up in God’s love. So let’s see how can we show that together? Let’s invite some volunteers who are not kids to come up here and join us around (or in) our net! (It can be a good idea to plant some people who would be willing to come up at this point). Will any of you who are retired come up front and join us? Will any of you who are grandparents? Parents? Young adults? Teenagers? Gather a few people to come join the kids.

OR if you cannot get people to come out or think your group will not go for that. Have the kids stand up and hold hands and then connect them to adults sitting in the pews by holding hands and ask everyone to hold hands for the prayer showing we are all a part of who God loves.

Jesus who fishes for people! Thank you for catching us in your love. Help us live in this love and share it with others. Amen

 

You are caught and held in God’s love all the time +

 

 

Have fish shaped paper for people to write prayers or thanksgiving for a person or an area that is not like them but that God loves.

Children’s Sermon – Baptism of Our Lord

Prepare: Find a few kinds of seals. They can be images, but better would be examples that the children can touch and hold like a sealed jar of jelly, a wax seal on paper, maybe your church’s seal if you have one. Also find an oil stock for baptism, or a little bowl with olive oil on a cotton ball.

 As the children gather ask them what they think of when you say the word “seal.”  You will probably get people talking about aquatic animals, not wax seals, but that’s fine!

Today in the Gospel we hear a story about Jesus getting baptized.  Jesus is in the water, but there were no seals there.  The kind of seal want to talk about isn’t an animal, and really isn’t even in the story about Jesus that we hear today!

(you could gather around your baptismal font if that is possible)

We still baptize people today, sometimes it looks a lot like what happened to Jesus, sometimes we use a bowl of water, called a font, and lots of different things in between.  But there is something that we often say at baptisms that we don’t hear in the story, it is a blessing that sounds like this:

“(name), Child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever.”

Did you hear the word “sealed” in there?  Yeah, really not talking about an animal! That kind of seal keeps things fresh, or secure, or shows who something belongs to.  I have a few examples here – this jar is sealed to keep this jelly fresh until we want to eat it.  A wax seal on an envelope show not only who it came from but also proves that it hasn’t been opened, and a seal like this one shows that this book belongs to this church. (Modify this as needed!)

So when we hear that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit in Baptism, what do you think that means? (give a little space here)

Right!  Good!  And when we seal people in Baptism we often use a little bit of olive oil on their forehead. 

Now you get to decide what to do.  Either have the children seal each other with a tiny amount of oil, repeating the words that you say, or the time to bless them all yourself.  depends on how much time you have!

 Loving and merciful God, we rejoice in the gift of baptism. Thank you for claiming us as your own and sealing us into your care. Amen.

 Child of God, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ forever.

 Invite your whole congregation to come up and remember their baptism!  You can either just let them dip their hands in the water, or you can offer them oil to seal someone that they came up with.  Or!  Even better – ask some of the children to stay and bless people!

One warning – mess with the amount of oil you use on the cotton BEFORE you try this.  it really only takes a very little bit.  You don’t want oil dripping down faces!

Let us walk with you on the journey of faith. Whether your feet are big or small, fresh or worn, running or crawling, God's love goes with you and you stand on holy ground.