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Seeing into the Heart

Children's sermon
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First Thoughts: Here we are looking at Jesus' first "recruiting" mission, as depicted in John. The gospel writer portrays him as having supernatural knowledge of the disciples-to-be and calling the disciples based on what he alone can see. What do we think God sees when God looks into our heart? I think too often we expect God is disappointed or at best sees us as fixer-uppers. But that's more likely how we see ourselves and not how God really sees us. Scripture tells us over again that we are God's beloved, the apple of God's eye. I invite you to spend a few moments reflecting on that, letting it sink in. Then turn and apply that meditation to the children you will teach!

Props You Will Need: none

Teaching As A Team:
Leader 1: (Leader 2 smiling, staring at Leader 1; Leader 1 laughs nervously) Hey, (name), what's up?

Leader 2: Oh, nothing. Why do you ask?

Leader 1: You're kinda staring at me. Is something wrong?

Leader 2: Oh no. Not at all. I was just thinking about the first time we met. You know, the first time I saw you I just knew we were going to be friends. It's like I knew immediately that you were the kind of person I could trust and enjoy spending time with.

Leader 1: What a nice thing to say! I felt that way about you as well! Isn't it nice when we meet people with whom we really click? I guess that's how Jesus felt when he first met his friends. The scripture tells us that Jesus was traveling to his hometown when he met a man named Philip and out of the blue Jesus asked him to come along and be his disciple.

Leader 2: What did Philip do?

Leader 1: He went and told his friends and they decided they wanted to come too.

Leader 2: But they didn't even know him.

Leader 1: I think they did. I think they felt about Jesus the same way we felt about each other -- that this was a guy they wanted to hang with and it seemed Jesus felt the same way. When Jesus looked at them, he saw people he could teach and share God's love with knowing they would teach and share God's love with others.

Leader 2: But they were just ordinary folks. How could Jesus tell they would be able to do such important things?

Leader 1: Because Jesus is like God -- able to see into people's hearts -- just as God can see into our hearts. And you know what God thinks when God looks at us?

Leader 2: No. What?

Leader 1: God thinks, how beautiful we are and what amazing things we can do! It's not too hard to imagine why Phillip and the others went along with Jesus. Wouldn't you want to spend more time with someone who really knew you and loved you for who you were?

Leader 2: I sure would!

Teaching On Your Own: Hey, I have a question: Do any of you have a best friend? You know, someone who you met and just knew immediately that you wanted to spend more time with them? That's a great feeling, isn't it? I guess that's how Jesus felt when he first met his friends. The scripture tells us that Jesus was traveling to his hometown when he met a man named Philip, and out of the blue Jesus asked him to come along and be his disciple. What do you think Philip did? He went and told his friends and they decided they wanted to come too. Even though they hadn't met Jesus yet, they still knew this was a guy they wanted to spend more time with and it seemed Jesus felt the same way. When he looked at them, he saw people he could teach and share God's love with knowing they would teach and share God's love with others. We might look at those guys and think they were just ordinary people, but Jesus was able to look into their hearts -- just like God can.

You know, God can look into our hearts right now and see everything about us. What do you think God sees when God looks into our hearts? God thinks, how beautiful we are, and what amazing things we can do! It's not too hard to imagine why Phillip and the others went along with Jesus. Wouldn't you want to spend more time with someone who really knew you and loved you for who you were?

Closing Prayer: Thank you, God, for looking into our hearts and seeing our beauty. Help us to see it too, in ourselves and in the people around us. And help us always to say "yes" when you ask us to be your friend. In Christ's name we pray, Amen.

Follow-Up Lesson: For this lesson we want to focus on what God sees when God looks into our hearts. Help each child cut a big heart out of construction paper and invite each child to think a bit on what amazing things God sees in his/her heart. Help them think of the kind things they do (caring for animals, sharing with friends) but also the fun things (painting pictures, being great at sports). What makes them special? What gives God cause for celebration in their lives? Have them write or draw these examples in the heart. Then either paste their heart on another paper to send home or make a big collage for your classroom.
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