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Children's sermon
Cows In Church
80 Biblically Based Children's Sermons
Object: An acorn which has begun to sprout and a plain-looking rock which has been split in two to reveal a bright red interior. (A geode would also be very useful for this sermon.)

"I have a word I would like to ask you to think about this morning. It may be a new word for many of you. It's 'Epiphany.' Can you all say 'Epiphany'?"

Dutifully the children respond in chorus, "Epiphany!"

"That's very good. Now, does anyone know what it means?"

The children look thoughtful. Then two boys' hands shoot up almost simultaneously. I nod to the first, who says, "I think it has something to do with love." And so it does.

"That's true, Tommy," I answer. I nod then to the second boy whose hand is still aloft.

"I think it's before Easter," Alex responds.

Realizing he must have Epiphany confused with Lent, but not wanting to tell him his answer isn't right, I quickly review his words in my head and reply, "Yes, Epiphany is before Easter. In fact, it's way before Easter. It's just twelve days after Christmas!" Alex grins as if to acknowledge that I appreciate his risking a "wrong" answer in front of the entire congregation.

"Epiphany is also called 'Twelfth Night,' " I continue, "coming, as it does, twelve days after Christmas. It is set apart on the church calendar as the day the wise men traditionally arrived at the stable in Bethlehem and found Jesus, the Messiah, the Light of the World. And because Jesus is thought of as the Light coming into human darkness, light is a symbol of Epiphany.

"We all need light in our lives, don't we?"

Most of the children nod in agreement, but some look doubtful. So I add, "Just think about it for a moment. Think how grumpy many of us get when we have cloudy weather day after day after day. We get grumpy because we aren't getting enough light! Do any of you ever get grumpy?"

"Oh no!" David assures me with a big grin. Most of the others laugh as Jonathan announces: "Well, I get grumpy sometimes."

"Ah! An honest man! How wonderful!" I respond.

"Well," I continue, "all living things need light to survive. I was out walking in the woods yesterday and came across this acorn. Now I know most of you have seen acorns, but we usually don't see them after they have started to sprout. As you can see, the plant inside of this acorn, which would become a big oak tree some day if it were left in the ground to grow, has split the shell. It had to split the shell in order to get to the sunlight. It needs the light to grow.

"On another walk a couple of months ago, I found this rock." I hold up an nondescript-looking rock.

"It's not very pretty, is it? In fact, it's an ugly rock. So you may wonder why I picked it up at all. But you see, it was split into two pieces when I found it." I separate the pieces and hand them to the children to pass around as I continue.

"As you can see, the rock is quite pretty on the inside; it's bright red. Now I never would have bothered to pick it up, I never would have seen its beauty, if it hadn't been split open -- to the light.

"That makes me think about the things in life that split us apart sometimes. Sometimes we get hurt or something we like a lot breaks and we feel hurt. But I wonder if it's not those events in our lives, the ones that split us open, that cause us to grow like the seed, or cause us to reveal our inner beauty like the rock, or cause us to turn toward the Light of Jesus in our pain and hurt.

"We need light in our lives, and as Christians, we need Jesus, the Light of the World, in our lives in order to be truly alive. As Tommy said, Epiphany has to do with love -- the love of God, who sent his son into the world to bring us light. That's what Epiphany is all about.

"One more time now, so you don't forget, let's say the word we've been talking about together: 'Epiphany!' Yes, Epiphany. May its Light shine brightly in your lives this week."

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