Sunday, March 29, 2015

Interactive Palm Sunday Homily for Children and Adults

Homily for Palm Sunday
“On the Road with Jesus”

Interactive message for children and adults.  Children were sitting in the front of the sanctuary, by the baptismal font.

Items I used:  pitcher with water, palm branch, cup with oil, some bread.
I also practiced the response before I began:

            Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our creator, and from our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  AMEN

            Here we are – disciples – and we have been on the road with Jesus.  We are here today with our palm branches and our praises – and our hopes.  Some of us have been with Jesus for just a little while.  Some of us have been following Jesus for a long time.  When did you begin following Jesus?  Think back.  Think back….
            Maybe you were there when he was baptized by John in the river Jordan.  Maybe you were there to get baptized too, and you saw something happen then, and you remembered, and ever since then you have been on the road with Jesus.  (pour water in font.  use the palm branch to spray some people.) Maybe you heard John argue with him, “I need to be baptized by you”.  Maybe you saw a dove or heard something from the heavens, something like “You are my beloved son….”  And then you followed Jesus….

            Or, it could have been a little later than that.  Perhaps you were one of the fisherman, standing by the edge of the sea, and you were throwing your nets into the sea when you heard him calling out, “Simon!  James!  John!  (I ad libbed other names and the children starting shouting out their own names.)  Drop your nets and follow me!  I will make you fish for people!”  Maybe you heard him call your name and you just couldn’t help it.  You felt like, for the first time you were important.  You belonged somewhere.  You belonged to someone.  You knew, just knew, that he was going places, and that he was going to do great things, and that you – YOU were going to be a part of it.  From then on you followed him – and you did get to see – and do – great things.  Sure you failed sometimes, but – one of you got to walk on water once!  Who has ever had that happen to them?

            Maybe you were there when everyone was on the mountain listening to him teach.  And afterwards, your stomachs were growling.  But, instead of sending you all away, he told you all to sit down.  You saw that the disciples had just this small amount of bread – 5 loaves – and two fishes – and you saw him lift those loaves and that bread up to heaven and pray.  (Give a few people a taste of bread.)  Maybe you can still taste the bread that he gave you that day.  There were 5,000 people, they said, and that was not counting women and children… and he fed you all.  Since then, you have been following him.

            Or this:  he held out his hand, and he spoke a word, and he healed you.  He healed you, or he healed someone close to you.  Maybe he took mud and put it on your eyes, or maybe he told you to get up and walk, or maybe he opened your ears so now you can hear.  (Walk around an anoint a few children with oil.)  You were a leper, an outcast, and he made you clean, so that you can be with other people again.  Or, he raised you from the dead.  You – or your daughter or your son – they are alive today because of Jesus.  And so, here you are, on the road, following.

            Or, he forgave you.  Did Jesus forgive you?  (the children shouted, "Yes!")  All of the things that held you back, he let go of.  All of the things you are afraid of – he promised to go with you.  All of the things you regret – he said – they don’t matter any more.  He said, “God forgives you all of your sins.”  So you got up and you followed him.

            Or maybe you just saw him now, recently, as he was entering Jerusalem.  He was seated on a donkey.  You had heard stories about him, and you saw all the other people following him, and you started following too, because of the things you heard and the people you saw.  And you thought, “Is this the One?  Is this the King God was telling us would come?”  Because you had heard from the prophets that the King, the one who would save Israel, would come HUMBLY, on a donkey!  And besides, the crowd was getting bigger and bigger and everything was getting louder and more exciting and people were waving branches and they were putting their cloaks on the ground. 

            Some of the people were shouting “Hosanna!”  (have one side of sanctuary shout “Hosanna!”)
            Some of the people were shouting “Blessed are you, King Jesus!”  (have other side shout)
            They were shouting at the same time!  (have both sides shout at the same time)

            This was it!  This is everything you have been waiting for.
            And you follow Jesus as he enters Jerusalem.

            And you know there are people who don’t like what he is doing.  There are people who are angry at Jesus, who are afraid of Jesus, but he just keeps on riding into Jerusalem.


            And we are on the road – we are following Jesus.  It is so exciting today to hear the shouts and to see the crowds.


            But he doesn’t stop here.  Does he?  He keeps going. 

            He keeps going into Jerusalem, and he doesn’t stop…..

            Until he gets to the cross.

            We are on the road with Jesus this week.
            Following the one who has fed, forgiven, taught and healed us, raised us to life, who has called us his own.
            And he won’t stop until he gets to the cross.
            For the lonely.  The outcast.  The poor.
            For you.  For me.  For the whole world.
            What will it mean for you to follow Jesus this week?


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