Who knows what this is? (Start showing them signs like “Stop,” “Caution,” “Yield,” “Children at Play,”etc., one by one and ask what they think they mean. Give them a chance to answer). Good. You guys did great on those signs. It’s important to know what signs mean. Why do you think that is? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right – to keep you safe, to help you know where to go and what to do – all kinds of reasons.
Now, do you think they had signs like these when Jesus was alive (Give them a chance to answer). I think you’re probably right – they had signs, but maybe not signs exactly like ours. Why do you think that is? (Give them a chance to answer). Sure, because of all those reasons – and because they had different things they needed to know. They didn’t need to know when to put on snow tires – because they didn’t have cars! But there is one kind of sign that the people of Jesus’ time were looking for that we still look for today. Does anyone know what that is? (Give them a chance to answer). This is a hard one. It was in our gospel story today. (Give them a chance to answer).
Here’s a hint: it was a story about John the Baptist. Who knows who John the Baptist is? (Give them a chance to answer). Good. John the Baptist was Jesus’s cousin – and he was also a prophet. Who remembers what a prophet is? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. A prophet is someone who God sends to tell the truth to people – and John the Baptist was the greatest prophet, because he told the truth about someone that was coming. Who was that? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. John the Baptist told the people that Jesus was coming – and that they needed to get ready for Jesus. But John wanted to be very sure before he said anything to the people. That’s because the people had been waiting for a very long time for God to send someone to take care of them. They called that person “The anointed one,” or “Messiah.” Have you heard of the Messiah before? (Give them a chance to answer). Well, lots of people in John’s time had heard about a Messiah that would come and John wanted to be really sure before he told people that Jesus was the Messiah. So John, who was in prison, sent someone to ask Jesus himself if he was the Messiah. Does anyone know what Jesus said? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. He told them to tell John to look and see what was going on around him. That’s because our scriptures tell us that when the Messiah comes really, really good stuff will happen. Who knows what kind of stuff? (Give them a chance to talk). That’s right. People will get presents, but even better, people who are sick will get well and people who are poor will get enough to live on, and everyone will be happier and get along better. That is super great stuff, right? (Give them a chance to answer).
So, I have a question. Why do you think Jesus didn’t just say, “Yup. I’m the Messiah all right”? (Give them a chance to answer). They might not believe him, that’s right. But because they had all read the Bible, they knew the same stories that we also heard today. These were very old stories that said when the Lord comes to his people, dry land will have water again, and flowers will blossom, and the people that are suffering will get better, and the people who are hungry will eat, and the people who are mean and selfish will not get to keep everything for themselves any more. Does that sound good to you? (Give them a chance to answer). Well, it sounded good to them too! That’s why when Jesus sent his messenger to John the Baptist, people remembered the words of the old prophets and singers and knew that Jesus was the right one – because he sent signs so they would know what to do and how not to get hurt – just like our signs but much more important.
So, what is going to happen in just about ten days? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right – Christmas! And that’s when Jesus the Messiah comes. So what signs can we use to know that the baby that is born on Christmas is really the Messiah? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. Good things will happen. We will hear in our Christmas pageant how Mary knew Jesus was the Messiah because an angel visited her – and the shepherds knew Jesus was the Messiah because they heard angels singing. And Herod knew Jesus was the Messiah because he realized he wouldn’t be able to keep all the gold and power for himself anymore! So, do you think you could watch for signs that Jesus is coming? Good. Will you do it? (Give them a chance to answer). All right then, what do we say in church when we agree to do something together? (Give them a chance to answer). That’s right. We say “amen.” AMEN.