Summary: Children's sermon about making excuses not to follow Jesus when he calls
We heard in the Gospel reading that Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem with a group of his disciples. He was determined to go to Jerusalem, and wasn’t going to let anything stand in his way. Do you know why he was headed to Jerusalem?
You are right. Jesus was headed to Jerusalem where he knew he would be arrested, tried, and killed. But then he would rise from the grave to give us all eternal life if we just follow him.
Jesus always had a lot of people following him wherever he went, because they wanted to see this person that they had heard so much about. As everyone was walking, a man said to Jesus,
“I will follow you, Jesus, wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes to sleep in. Birds build nests. But I have no place to call my own. Are you sure this is the life you want?” (Luke 9:57-58)
He wanted the man to understand that following him might not always be fun and easy. He was not going to be staying in four-star hotels, and eat at the best restaurants; he was going to suffer and eventually be killed.
As they walked along, Jesus turned to another man in the group and said,
"Follow me." But that person replied, “I’ve got lots of things to do first, and then I’ll follow you.” (Luke 9:61)
Every time Jesus asks someone to ‘follow him’, the person said he would - BUT then offers excuses as to why he couldn’t go right then.
We all know that we really want to follow Jesus, but we seem to always have an excuse for everything. Making excuses is not new. People even made excuses in Jesus' day.
Jesus was calling those who would give up everything -- family, friends, their job -- and follow him. What he got instead were excuses.
Do you have excuses?
• If your mother asks you to clean your room, do you think of a thousand reasons why you can’t do it right then.
• If you are supposed to carry out the garbage, doesn’t the current TV program you are watching seem more important than carrying out the stinky garbage!
• If you haven’t done your homework, do you tell the teacher ‘my dog ate my paper’?
Even adults give excuses for things they don’t want to do right away!
Jesus is still calling us today saying, "Follow me!" He asks us:
“I’m calling you to proclaim the kingdom of God. Isn’t that important work?” Jesus said, “You’ve got to commit to me fully, or the kingdom of God might not be for you.” (Luke 9:62)
Wouldn’t it be sad if we thought other things were more important than following the teachings of Jesus? If we made so many excuses to Jesus that we would not be a member of the Kingdom of God?
That would be horrible!
So, I ask you, will you follow Jesus, or will you make excuses?
Jesus wants us to follow him, to have eternal life, and show God’s love to the world. Are we going to follow?
Or are we going to make excuses why we can’t ‘right now’?
I have a paper that I want each of you to take home – it is called ‘I Choose to Follow Jesus’. It has things that happen to you every day. What you need to do is answer what you would do in each situation if you are following Jesus.
What would you do at school, at church, at home, when someone is mean to you, or when you are mean to someone else. The last line is what you would do if you follow Jesus. When something happens, remember to write down (or have your parents help you) what you did or what you should have done if you were following Jesus.
Let us pray:
Dear God, when Jesus calls us to follow him, may we not offer excuses. Instead, let us do what we must to follow Jesus. Amen.
In Saying Farewell
As most of you know, this is my final Sunday at Saint John’s. According to the canons of the Diocese, I must leave when the new rector comes. After much prayer and tears, with the help of Father Stephen, I decided the most graceful way to leave would be at the end of the current liturgical year. I want to thank each and every one of you that has welcomed me into the parish and made me feel like I belonged here. I will forever cherish my time here – you are extraordinary people and your future is unlimited.
So, as I leave, I know that there will be a hole in my heart that you all occupy; this is one of the hardest things I have had to do, and I know that I will be grieving for a long time. So many people have sent me notes or expressed their feelings for me; it is bittersweet and touches my heart and soul. And although I am leaving, I want to leave you with these thoughts and prayer: