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December 2011

A Sharp Lookout

For the First Sunday of Advent

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Scripture Reference: Mark 13:32-37

Preparation: Prepare a distraction of some type to use later in the sermon. For example, one year, I arranged for a helper to drop colorful confetti from the balcony to catch the children’s attention.

Today is the first Sunday in Advent. (You may, at this time, take note of the Advent wreath and other Advent decorations.) Advent is a time of waiting and getting ready for the arrival of Jesus at Christmas, but it is also a time when we think about watching and waiting for Jesus to come again.

Jesus told his disciples very plainly that he was going to return to earth again, but he did not tell them exactly when that would happen. Jesus said that only the Father in heaven knows the exact time. Jesus explained that his return to earth could be compared to a man who left to go on a trip and told his workers what to do while he was gone, but did not tell them when he was coming back. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 13, Jesus said, “Keep a sharp lookout! For you do not know when the homeowner will return—at evening, midnight, early dawn, or late daybreak. What I say to you I say to everyone: Watch for his return!” (vv. 35–37 nlt).

Can anyone tell me what it means to keep a sharp lookout? (Let children respond.) You keep a sharp lookout when you watch carefully for something. If you are the lookout, do you have to pay close attention? Do you have to keep awake and alert? (Children may answer.) How many of you are good lookouts? Raise your hand if you think you could keep a sharp lookout.

Well, I have a test for you. I’m going to go out that door (indicate a nearby exit), and I will return through that door. I want everyone to keep a sharp lookout and have your eyes on that door when I come back. Can you do that? I might come back right away, or it may be a little longer, but don’t take your eyes off that door. (You exit and soon after, the “distraction” enters from the opposite direction with a yo-yo or ball, etc. You may return while children are distracted.)

Hello! I’m back! How many of you were still watching the door when I entered? (Pause for response.) Sometimes it can be very hard to keep a sharp lookout, especially when there are other things trying to get your attention. This world is full of distractions, especially as we get close to Christmas. There are decorations and toys and cookies and so many things that keep us from watching and waiting for Jesus. During this season of Advent, let’s try to keep our eyes on the reason for the season. Keep a sharp lookout for Jesus!

 Prayer: Dear Jesus, as we wait for your return, help us to keep our eyes on you. We want to be doing the things that you want us to do while we are waiting.

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