Scolding the Snakes: And 58 Other Kids Sermons from the Gospel of Luke


Ruth Gilmore has presented children's sermons at her church for a number of years to an enthusiastic following of listeners of all ages. After many requests from pastors and listeners, she began to collect her sermons built around the Revised Common Lectionary. This book (for year C) is the first in that collection-and the first in a series that will follow years A, B, and C in the RCL's cycle. Each book offers a year's worth of sermons, plus ...
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Ruth Gilmore has presented children's sermons at her church for a number of years to an enthusiastic following of listeners of all ages. After many requests from pastors and listeners, she began to collect her sermons built around the Revised Common Lectionary. This book (for year C) is the first in that collection-and the first in a series that will follow years A, B, and C in the RCL's cycle. Each book offers a year's worth of sermons, plus seven extras (for non-Sunday events or festivals). There are 59 sermons in all.

An inspiring foreword by the award-winning writer and storyteller Walter Wangerin Jr., provides helpful suggestions for preparing and delivering sermons, a table of contents and index to help find the right sermon for a particular Sunday or theme, and links to the author's web site are included. The accompanying CD lets users personalize each sermon for their own usage.
Author Bio: Ruth Gilmore is Director of Children's Ministries at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Sacramento, California.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806640822
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Read an Excerpt

From the Introduction (pre-publication version):
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt. 19:14 niv). Jesus' words remind us to see a child through the eyes of God-not as a noisy distraction from business at hand, but as an honored inheritor of God's kingdom and a model of humility. Children, dancing their way through life, not yet filled with pride and self, still delightfully saturated with the joy of living-they embrace the kingdom. They live in the moment of grace.

This book offers fifty-nine chances to interact with children during worship services. Children's time is a magical moment in the church service. When young ones are invited forward, many will spring from their seats and gallop to the front of the church, thrilled to sit next to you and have the attention of the whole congregation. And the idea of hearing a good story told just for them, or the chance to unravel the meaning of an intriguing object lesson-well, these are opportunities just too good to pass up.

So, right from the start, all the advantages belong to you.

Stories have power.
Even as you capture the children's attention, adults in the congregation will be drawn into the story, hearing Bible truths told in a new way, appreciating the simplicity you bring to the message. We are-all of us-children, the sons and daughters of our heavenly Parent. Jesus reaches out to the child in each of us, teaching through stories and parables, because children love a good story.

The sermons in this book ask you to be a storyteller. Each one is self-contained and ready to use. But before you begin,here are tips to sharpen your storytelling skills and make these children's sermons the most effective they can be.

Use sermons that work for you.

If you are following the Revised Common Lectionary, you will find that each sermon is based on one of the texts for the day. There are 59 sermons in all-a year's worth, plus seven extras (for non-Sunday events or festivals). If you are not following a lectionary, you can search the contents list by theme or topic to find applicable sermons.

Build relationships.
Many sermons in this book make use of a personal anecdote or illustration. Children love to hear real-life stories about their elders, especially if they like the elders who are telling the stories. The relationship with your listeners has a lot to do with the connection you build in your first moments with them. It is important to be on their level-physically as well as intellectually. Sit with the children and recognize the importance of each child with your gestures and eye contact. Make it clear that you are eager to travel into the story with them.

And it's good to remember that our preconceived ideas about teaching and learning may be wrong. Even though we might really want our listeners to sit quietly and keep their eyes glued on us, some children learn best while in motion. Some of my most active listeners often turn out to be ones who most fully understand the point I am trying to make.

Keep it simple, brief, concrete.
I have tried to keep the language of these sermons simple and direct, easily understandable to a child. Most sermons will take five minutes or less to deliver. A child's attention is a tenuous and precious thing. Children are intent on soaking in every miracle of the world around them, and to concentrate on one thing at a time is a considerable challenge.

Many sermons make use of a simple object to illustrate a lesson. (A brief note at the beginning of each sermon will alert you to any special preparations or props.) Children will understand and retain more as more of their five senses are engaged. Their sense of touch or smell or taste will draw them back into the sermon and remind them of the truth that was taught. And with God's grace, they will learn that truth by heart.

Make the sermons your own-the CD ROM.
As was noted earlier, these sermons can be used just as they are-read directly from the page. But they will be even better with a bit of preparation and personalization. Use the enclosed CD to customize each sermon for the most appropriate delivery in your situation, to your audience. Add or substitute your own interesting, relevant stories wherever possible. Build in anecdotes, illustrations, and names from your congregation, city, or community.

It's always better to tell your sermon than to read it. The more familiar you are with the sermon, the easier it will be to talk to your listeners. In a well-rehearsed play, the trappings of the performance fade into the background while the emotion and meaning of the play come into focus. A performer who knows the part well is able to ad-lib if occasion demands.

And while you are sharing your sermons, don't be surprised if a kid puts his oar in. That may shift your direction slightly; but if you're prepared, you can go with the flow while continuing to steer gently. The bank you end up traveling to may be more interesting and important than the place you were headed.

Visit our web site, too!
If you have a web browser, you can find lots more helpful information and resources about children's sermons at There you'll be able to contact the author, read anecdotes, download scripts for puppet shows, find information about other books in the series, and access links to other helpful sites on the Internet.

Finally, enjoy the rewards.
God has generously blessed me through the children who have sat with me on the steps of the altar. I marvel to see how a very young child can catch the meaning behind a story before I've even gotten to the explanation. I rejoice in the delightful insights of my young audience. I suspect that, through the years, they have taught me far more than I have taught them.

May God bless you as you teach the children-and, in teaching them, welcome the Lord Jesus himself into your midst.
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Table of Contents


Advent 1-Preparing for Jesus' coming
Advent 2-Cleaning up our lives
Advent 3-True repentance
Advent 4-Christmas excitement
Christmas Eve-Jesus lights our life
Christmas Day-God becomes human
Christmas 1-Jesus teaches us; we teach others
Christmas 2-Jesus shows God's love
Epiphany (Baptism)-Repentance, baptism
Epiphany 2-Jesus is God's Son
Epiphany 3-All God's children are important
Epiphany 4-True love, loving
Epiphany 5-Missions, witnessing
Epiphany 6-Riches and God's kingdom
Epiphany 7-Rewards of giving
Epiphany 8-Following Jesus
Transfiguration-Jesus is God
Lent 1-Faith and salvation
Lent 2-God's protection and forgiveness
Lent 3-God's Word feeds us
Lent 4-Jesus loves sinners
Lent 5-Using gifts and talents
Palm Sunday-Praising Jesus
Easter Sunday-Victory over death
Easter 2-Faith
Easter 3-Missions, telling about Jesus
Easter 4-Jesus loves and leads us
Easter 5-Loving Jesus, loving others
Easter 6-Holy Spirit, guidance
Easter 7-Salvation, freedom from sin
Day of Pentecost-Witness, missions
Holy Trinity Sunday-God helps in troubles
Pentecost Proper 3-Eternal life, victory over death
Pentecost Proper 4-Faith, believing in Jesus
Pentecost Proper 5-Eternal life
Pentecost Proper 6-Forgiveness, gratitude
Pentecost Proper 7-God's Spirit fills our lives
Pentecost Proper 8-Putting Jesus first
Pentecost Proper 9-Prayer, goodness
Pentecost Proper 10-Loving and helping others
Pentecost Proper 11-God's Word, listening to Jesus
Pentecost Proper 12-Prayer, God as good parent
Pentecost Proper 13-Sharing gifts with others
Pentecost Proper 14-Preparing for second coming
Pentecost Proper 15-Life as a race toward God
Pentecost Proper 16-Helping others, love
Pentecost Proper 17-Jesus first, then others, then self
Pentecost Proper 18-Following Jesus
Pentecost Proper 19-Missions, witness
Pentecost Proper 20-Choosing to follow Jesus
Pentecost Proper 21-Sharing riches with others
Pentecost Proper 22-Faith, grace
Pentecost Proper 23-Forgiveness, grace
Pentecost Proper 24-Bible, God's Word
Pentecost Proper 25-Pride and humility
Pentecost Proper 26-Repentance and life changes
Pentecost Proper 27-Eternal life, heaven
Pentecost Proper 28-God protects in danger
Christ the King-Kingdom of God, Jesus as Lord
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First Chapter

Advent 3; Luke 3:7-18
Scolding the Snakes

Preparation: If possible, bring a rubber snake or a picture of a snake to illustrate the sermon.

Can you count the lighted candles on the Advent wreath? (That's right: three. This is the third week of Advent.) You remember that we said Advent is a time of getting ready. Who remembers what we are getting ready for? (Let children answer.) We want to be ready for Christmas, when Jesus was born, but we also need to be ready for when Jesus comes back.

Jesus was born long ago in Bethlehem, and when he was about thirty years old, he was ready to begin telling people about God and about why he had come to live on earth. But before Jesus began to teach and preach, God wanted to make sure the people were ready to listen. So God sent someone ahead of Jesus to get everyone ready. Do you know who that person was? (Someone may answer.)

A man named John the Baptist was sent to tell the people to get ready for Jesus. He was not a shy or quiet preacher. John the Baptist told people to get ready for Jesus by repenting. And he shouted it loud: "Repent!" To repent means to change your direction, to turn around. It means to stop doing the bad things that God doesn't like, and to start doing the things that God really wants you to do. What if we had the bad habit of hitting people every time we got angry? If we repent, then what happens? (Let kids offer ideas.) We stop hitting, don't we?

What if you told God that you were really sorry and promised to stop hitting other people, but in the back of your mind, you were thinking, "I'll stop hitting everyone except my sister. She makes me so mad."Does God know what you're thinking? Is that really repenting?

After hearing John the Baptist, lots of people said they would repent and change. Most of the people really did repent. But some people only wanted to look like they were following God. In their hearts, they didn't really want to change. John scolded those pretenders. Do you know what he called them? He called them poisonous snakes. (Hold up rubber snake.)

How do many people feel about snakes? (Let children answer. Even though most snakes are harmless-even beneficial-some are poisonous and deserve to be feared and disliked.) Snakes are quiet and kind of sneaky. And some snakes-the bad ones-are filled with poison. John was angry with people who pretended to repent. They were like snakes: they were being sneaky with God; they were poisonous inside.

We all do things that are wrong sometimes, but once we know what needs to be changed, we must really want to change it. We don't want to be sneaky and false like snakes.

Forgive our sins, Lord Jesus, and change us to be more and more like you.

Advent 4 Luke 1:39-55
Leap for Joy

Today how many candles are lit on the Advent wreath? (Children may respond.) It's the fourth Sunday in Advent, isn't it? It's almost-almost-time for Christmas! We want to be ready for Christmas, and we want to be ready when Jesus comes to earth again.

Is everyone ready? The Gospel lesson for today shows us two women who were ready for God's Son to come. Mary had just been told by the angel Gabriel that she was going to be the mother of Jesus, God's Son. The angel also told her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was very old and had never been able to have children, was pregnant. This was a lot of amazing news for Mary to take in, but Mary was ready. She believed what the angel said. She said she would be willing to be the mother of this special baby. Mary was ready for Christmas.

Mary's cousin Elizabeth was ready, too. Elizabeth was older than most grandmas, and she was having a baby for the first time. She knew something special was happening. God was at work. Elizabeth's son would be named John the Baptist, and he would help get the world ready for Jesus. Elizabeth was ready for Christmas.

Even the tiny baby inside Elizabeth-John the Baptist-was ready. Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. And as soon as Mary stepped through the door and said, "Hello," the baby inside Elizabeth moved, and Elizabeth knew that Mary had a wonderful secret. God told her that Mary was going to be the mother of God's Son. Elizabeth told Mary, "The instant I heard your voice, my baby jumped for joy! You are blessed because you believed the Lord's promise to you."

Mary was ready, Elizabeth was ready, even John the Baptist-who wasn't even born yet-was ready. The world was getting ready for Jesus, ready for the first Christmas. God was getting their hearts ready. All of these people were believing in God. Mary sang a song of joy, and the baby, John, leaped for joy. They were excited and happy.

We get excited before Christmas, don't we? As Christmas gets closer and closer, sometimes it's hard to hold all that excitement in. We just have to jump up and down or sing or yell. (You may share a childhood memory of your own or an expression that shows your excitement.) What do you do when you're really excited and happy? (Let children share.)

It's a good thing to be excited about Christmas! Jesus is coming! Let's all leap for joy! (You may leap and yell, "Hooray!" with the children, or let the children leap for joy.)

Jesus, we love you and can't wait to celebrate your birth once again. Thank you for coming to be born.
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