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March 2012

Coming Clean

For the Fifth Sunday in Lent

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Scripture Reference: Psalm 51

Preparation: Bring a small bottle of vegetable or olive oil, a damp cloth, and soap.

Have you ever gotten oil on your hands and then tried to wash it off with water? Does the oil rinse off? (Let children respond.) No, it doesn’t come off with just water, does it? What else do you need to get oil off your hands? (Someone may offer the correct answer.) Right: you need soap.

Psalm 51 talks about getting clean. King David wrote this psalm after he had done something very wrong. He was sorry for what he did, and he asked God to forgive him and make him clean again. King David wrote, “Wash me thoroughly and cleanse me from my sin. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow” (v. 7 author’s paraphrase).

King David didn’t really need soap to get himself clean. He needed forgiveness from God. Forgiveness is a little bit like soap, though. When we sin, we may try to cover the sin up, to ignore the “dirt” or to hide it from others. We may tell ourselves, “Well, it’s not so bad what I did; other people have done it, too.” That’s like trying to wash dirty oil off our hands with water; it doesn’t work.

Just as we need soap to get oil off our hands, we need Jesus’ forgiveness to come clean from our sins. God wants us to admit that we’ve done wrong. This is called confession. And when we confess to God that we’ve done something wrong, God forgives us and makes us clean inside.

I brought oil with me this morning, so let’s experiment with it. I’ll rub oil over my hands and then I’ll try rinsing it off in this bowl of water. (Do this now.) I’ll let some of you feel my hands. (Let those nearest you check your oil.) Did the oil come off? It didn’t, did it? You can’t really see the oil, but it’s still there. And sometimes other people may not know about our sins or see our sins, but God knows—God knows us completely. He knows we need forgiveness. The sin sticks to us sort of like the oil sticks to my hands.

Now let’s try soap. (Wash with soap and water; dry your hands. Then have kids check again.) Are my hands finally clean? Yes, now they’re clean, but I needed the soap to get clean, didn’t I? We also need God’s forgiveness to make us truly clean inside.

The next time you need to get really clean—clean inside—remember that only God’s forgiveness can wash away our sin. And remember that God is happy to forgive us because he loves us.

Prayer: We’re sorry, dear Jesus, for the times when we do the wrong thing. Thank you for forgiving us and making us clean inside.

4 comments to Coming Clean

  • Jan Lauterbach

    I need a story on forgiveness this Sunday (23rd) and we are doing a series on forgiveness and think this one would work. I ‘m thinking of this one.

    • ruth

      Let me know how it works out for you! I love messages that are tactile as the children seem to remember the message the more their senses are engaged. Blessings!

  • Thanks for the sermon. We are reading Psalm 51 in church this morning and it is a difficult topic to talk about with kids especially in front of the whole church. I think this story captures the essense. I appreciate your sharing.

    • ruth

      Hi Janice,
      I’m glad that this message will work for your church! It does help demonstrate that unseen things, like wrongdoing and guilt, are very real and need God’s love and forgiveness for true cleansing. Blessings on your ministry. More resources available at the Kidsermons’ Facebook page: Please share and give us a “like!”

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