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Pointing Out the Christ

Children's sermon
Object: 
a football or other sport paraphernalia
First Thoughts: I want to focus a bit on John the Baptist -- who is such an interesting character we can bet the children will like him! Everyone was looking for the Christ but it was this wild man in the wilderness, dressed in animal skins and eating locusts (both of which put him squarely outside appropriate religious decorum), who spotted him. How quick are we to ignore or silence the people who are different from us in our congregation? Can you recall a time when you received wisdom or enlightenment from someone who surprised you? Not only can God use such folks, God seems to delight in it. (As 1 Samuel 16 reminds us, we look on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart!)

Props You Will Need: a football or other sport paraphernalia (optional)

Teaching As A Team:
Leader 1: Hey, (name), what do you have there?

Leader 2: I went to a (insert favorite local team) game last night. You know they're my favorite football team. It was an incredible game -- they scored in the last quarter for the win. But that wasn't even the best part.

Leader 1: What was?

Leader 2: After the game. I was able to get in the crowd right outside the locker rooms. We were all waiting to see (favorite player).

Leader 1: Did you see him?

Leader 2: Well, not at first. I guess we were all expecting him to be dressed in his football uniform. But he was just dressed in ordinary clothes. So we didn't recognize him.

Leader 1: Who saw him first?

Leader 2: It was this homeless person. He was sitting on the sidewalk where we were gathered. He seemed to be talking to himself, and he didn't smell or look very good. I actually thought he might be a little crazy. But then, out of the blue, he yelled, "Hey, it's (player's name)!" We all turned and sure enough there he stood: behind us, where we weren't looking.

Leader 1: I guess you were lucky that man was paying such good attention. You know, your description of the homeless man reminds me a little of someone in the Bible, John the Baptist. John lived in the wilderness and ate bugs and honey. A lot of people thought he was a little wacko too. But the Bible tells us that he spent most of his time telling people that Jesus was coming. When Jesus showed up one day, John recognized him immediately.

Leader 2: Like the homeless man saw (player's name)!

Leader 1: Right. See, God uses all kinds of people to get God's message across, even people who might not seem important to us. Everyone is important in God's eyes. Everyone has something special to do. Not only did John recognize Jesus, he actually baptized Jesus and helped start Jesus' public ministry.

Leader 2: Wow! That is important. Do you think God has something important for me to do too?

Leader 1: I'm convinced of it.

Teaching On Your Own: (holding up football helmet or any other piece of sports equipment) See what I have here? The (name of sports team) are my favorite football team, and I got to see them play last night. It was great! It was an incredible game -- they scored in the last quarter for the win. But that wasn't even the best part. After the game, I was able to get in the crowd right outside the locker rooms. We were all waiting to see (player's name). We didn't see him at first. I guess we were all expecting him to be dressed in his football uniform. But he was just dressed in ordinary clothes. So we didn't recognize him. You know who saw him first? It was a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk nearby. He seemed to be talking to himself, and he didn't smell or look very good. I actually thought he might be a little crazy. But then, out of the blue, he yelled, "Hey, it's (player's name)!" We all turned and sure enough there he stood: behind us, where we weren't looking. I guess we were lucky that man was paying such good attention.

The more I thought about that homeless man the more he reminded me of a character from the Bible, John the Baptist. John lived in the wilderness and ate bugs and honey. A lot of people thought he was different. But the Bible tells us that he spent most of his time telling people that Jesus was coming. When Jesus showed up one day, John recognized him immediately. Just like the homeless man saw (player's name)! You know, God uses all kinds of people to get God's message across, even people who might not seem important to us. Everyone is important in God's eyes. Everyone has something special to do. Not only did John recognize Jesus, he actually baptized Jesus and helped start Jesus' public ministry. So do you think God has something important for us to do too? Sure! I'm convinced of it.

Closing Prayer: Thank you, God, that you use ordinary people to do important work. Help us to remember to respect everyone we meet, knowing that everyone is your child. And help us to find and do the important work you have for us too. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: Start by having the children think of some important things God wants to do in the world: feed the poor, care for orphans, dig wells for water in poor countries, clean the environment, and so forth. Make a list on a dry erase board or a poster so the children can see it. Then give the children some magazines instructing them to cut out faces of people they see. (Or you can cut out some faces in advance, to save time.) Once you have a pile of faces, pull them out one by one and ask which important task God might give them. Based on the children's discussion, place each picture next to an important task. Then ask the children to think about which of these tasks God might give them. Do they think it's possible that they could do one of these things? Why or why not? Allow the children to draw their own picture, placing it on the list too.
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