Here is the third installment of The Missional Life mini sermon series. The first two sermons were on Foundations and Principles. This week we are using the High Priestly Prayer found in John 17. I had no desire to even attempt to rewrite this beautiful prayer, so this week I used The Message translation on just a very small part of the prayer. Another first for the lessons is a writing page, complements of colormountain.com. This activity is a little beyond the capabilities of the children I teach (4-7 years old), but I thought this would be a great writing prompt for older children.
Theme: Are you just a fan of the church, a spectator in a pew, or are you an active member of God’s family?
Scripture: John 17 (verses 20-23)
Materials: a YouTube video of a sporting event
Opening: Have children sit in a circle. Introduce yourself. Light the candle and say, “We can’t see God, but we can see his light in the world. This candle reminds us that God is here with us.” Say a quick opening prayer for your time together and lead the Lord’s Prayer.
Lesson: Last week we learned about the living water that we receive from Jesus. Who can tell me something you remember from the lesson last week? Today we are going to learn about what it means to be an active member in God’s Church.
First, we are going to watch a clip from the 1992 World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves. Does anyone in here like baseball? Let’s watch. Play about a minute of footage, then ask – Is anyone having fun? What? You’re bored? I thought you liked baseball. Oh, you say that you would rather be playing. So you are telling me that it is not as much fun to watch baseball as it is to play? Hmmm.
Let’s see what Jesus has to say about this. I am going to read a short passage from the Gospel of John. Here we are jumping right in the middle of a very important prayer that Jesus prays called the High Priestly Prayer. While you are listening, I want you to keep track, with your fingers, of how many times Jesus says they or them.
I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.
Ok, let’s see those fingers. How many times did you hear the words they or them? Did you know that just in that short portion of Jesus’ prayer, he prays for us ten times? Can you believe that Jesus prayed, and is praying, for us? I’m not talking about the people he knew while he was walking on the earth, I mean that he was praying for you, Mery, you Garret, and you Devon.
Well, what does this have to do with baseball? Jesus doesn’t talk about baseball, but he does pray that we are one with the Father like he, Jesus, is one with God and that we might shine his light for all to see so that everyone can know God. That means that we cannot be spectator Christians; he wants us to be active members of his family, not just fans who sit in pews on Sundays. And the most wonderful part of being a member of this team, this family, is that we are not alone! God and Jesus are always with us and have formed a great family in the community of the Church. This community is a huge help, support, and source of growth. When we work together, unified, we live out and increase the message of the good news Jesus brings. This is how God wants us to live as his children on this earth. We are training and working together for the glory of God’s kingdom.
Closing prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful prayer. It means so much to us that you prayed for us before we were ever born and that you continue to pray for us today. Help us become one with you and God. Help our hearts and minds to want the same things that you want in this world, and show us how to remain active members of your family while we are here on earth. Amen.
PARENTS! If there was time during Gracetime, your child drew and colored on the picture of the baseball field. As you review this lesson this week, help them articulate why they either drew themselves in the stands or in the field of the baseball field. If they can write, help them write out their thoughts. Then, help them think of ways that they can remain active members of God’s family. Examples include: going to church every Sunday, reading the Bible every day, praying every day, finding ways to love and help other people, singing songs to God, etc.
It is so good for children to realize early in their lives that they are very important members of God’s family, and, as easy as it can be, God doesn’t want them to be passive members of the Church family. Children get just as much, if not more, fulfillment and meaning out of serving. Find ways that they can be a part of the ministries you love. If you pass around the offering plate, let them walk with you and help. If you are in charge of the slideshow one morning, let them help change slides. And I don’t know of a better Greeter than a small child. 🙂
Home Study Guide
Monday – verses 9-11 – “prayer for the disciples”
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
- Jesus sets aside this special time to pray for the disciples. Why does Jesus say that he is glorified in the disciples? How is Jesus glorified as you follow him?
- Why does Jesus pray for the unity of the disciples? What difference does it make?
Tuesday – verses 12-13 – “prayer for joy”
12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
- Why did Judas have to be lost? Did Jesus intentionally not guard Judas? How do you understand the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility?
- How would the disciples find Jesus’ joy? What role does unity have to play in our joy?
Wednesday – verses 14-16 – “prayer for protection”
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
- Why does the world hate Jesus’ disciples? How do we balance the call to be in the world and not of it with the call of the missional life?
- What does it mean that we are not “of the world?”
Thursday – verses 17-19 – “prayer for truth”
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
- As Jesus is sent, so we are sent. What are the ramifications of this statement?
- How important is the truth? Sanctify means to make holy. In what way does God’s word make us holy?
Friday – verses 20-22 – “prayer for us”
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
- Why does Jesus pray for our unity? What difference does it make when we are on mission?
- What glory has Jesus given us? How does this gift unify the believers?