Transfiguration Sunday; Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Adapted from “Scolding the Snakes”
Scripture Reference: Luke 9:28-36
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. Transfiguration means to change the way something or someone looks. On this day, we remember how Jesus went up on a mountaintop with his disciples and showed them just how special he was.
Jesus had told his disciples, his close friends, that he would be killed and later rise from the dead. How do you think the disciples looked when Jesus told them that bad things were going to happen to him? Show me how the faces of the disciples must have looked. (Let the kids act out the sad emotions.) They must have been very, very sad.
Eight days after he had told them this, he chose three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John to climb up a mountain with him. Let’s all pretend we’re climbing together. (Pantomime climbing motions.) Whew! Let’s sit down and rest like the disciples did when they got to the top. (Sit down together on steps or floor.) Jesus took the disciples with him up that mountain to pray, but the disciples were very tired. The disciples prayed with him for awhile. Let’s all pray like the disciples. (Fold your hands with children.) But pretty soon those tired disciples fell asleep. Show me how you can fall asleep on the ground. (Let kids act out sleeping.)
While Jesus was praying, his face and clothing began to glow like a light was shining inside him. His clothing turned white and glowed brightly. Two famous prophets, Moses and Elijah—men who had lived many, many years earlier—suddenly were right there talking to Jesus. The disciples woke up and saw the brightness and glory of Jesus, and they saw the two prophets talking with him. They were so surprised, they couldn’t speak.
What do you think the disciples looked like when they saw Jesus glowing and those old prophets standing in front of them? Show me what they might have looked like. (Make a look of amazement on your face and invite kids to do the same.) I’m sure that this was a day that those disciples remembered for the rest of their lives.
Jesus was showing his disciples that he was truly special, that he was the Son of God. How do you think that made them feel about him? (Let children answer.) Jesus wanted to remind them that no matter what might happen, and no matter how sad they might feel or how bad things might seem, Jesus was very, very special. He was God’s Son. He would always be there to help them. This is what we remember and celebrate on Transfiguration Sunday.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for always being nearby to love and help us. Remind us over and over again how very special you are and how very lucky we are.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
From “Scolding the Snakes”
Scripture Reference: Luke 1:39-55
Preparation: You may have a song queued up to play at the end of the children’s time.
Today, how many candles are lit on the Advent wreath? (Children may respond.) It’s the fourth Sunday in Advent, isn’t it? It’s almost – almost – time for Christmas! We want to be ready for Christmas and we want to be ready when Jesus comes to earth again.
Is everyone ready? The Gospel lesson for today shows us two women who were ready for God’s son to come. Mary had just been told by the angel Gabriel, that she was going to be the mother of Jesus, God’s Son. The angel also told her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was very old and had never been able to have children, was pregnant. This was a lot of amazing news for Mary to take in, but Mary was ready. She believed what the angel said. She said she would be willing to be the mother of this special baby. Mary was ready for Christmas.
Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was ready too. Elizabeth was much older than most mothers, and she was having a baby for the first time. She knew something special was happening. God was at work. Elizabeth’s son would be named John the Baptist, and he would help make the world ready for Jesus. Elizabeth was ready for Christmas.
Even the tiny baby inside Elizabeth – John the Baptist – was ready. Mary went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. And as soon as Mary stepped through the door and said, “Hello,” the baby inside Elizabeth moved and Elizabeth knew that Mary had a wonderful secret. God told her that Mary was going to be the mother of God’s Son. Elizabeth told Mary, “The instant I heard your voice, my baby jumped for joy! You are blessed because you believed the Lord’s promise to you.”
Mary was ready. Elizabeth was ready. Even John the Baptist – who wasn’t even born yet – was ready. The world was getting ready for Jesus, ready for the first Christmas. God was getting their hearts ready. All of these people were believing in God. Mary sang a song of joy, and the baby, John, leaped for joy. They were excited and happy.
We get excited before Christmas, don’t we? As Christmas gets closer and closer, sometimes it’s hard to hold all that excitement in. We just have to jump up and down or sing or yell. (You may share a childhood memory of your own or an expression that shows your excitement.) What do you do when you’re really excited and happy? (Let children share.)
It’s a good thing to be excited about Christmas! Jesus is coming! Let’s all leap for joy! (You may leap and yell, “Hooray!” with the children or play a short, happy song to celebrate the coming of Christmas.)
Prayer: Jesus, we love you and can’t wait to celebrate your birth once again. Thank you for coming to be born.
Pentecost Proper 26
From “Sitting on the Rainbow”
Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud
Scripture Reference: Mark 12:41-44
Preparation: Bring two bags containing stickers or some other kind of prize or treat. One bag should contain just a few items, the other, many items. Have extra items yourself to give to the helper with the meager prize-bag.
I have two bags of prizes with me this morning. I’d like two volunteers to help me hand them out. (Pick your helpers and give them each a bag.) As you can see, one of the bags is more full than the other. I’d like my helpers to start handing out prizes. They have to take turns, though, as they hand out their prizes. First one person will give out a prize, then the other person will give out a prize until everybody has been given a prize. Then, after everybody has gotten a prize, these two helpers get to keep for themselves whatever is left in their bags. We can help by counting as they hand them out. (Let the volunteers begin. Try to make sure that the one with the meager bag has few or no prizes left when finished.) Does everyone have a prize?
Which one of these two helpers gave out the most prizes? (Let children respond.) They handed out about the same number, didn’t they? But one has very few prizes left and the other still has a bag full. So they may have handed out the same number, but which of these two do you think was the more generous? (Children may answer.) The one with just a few prizes to begin with gave away almost all that she had. The one with lots of prizes still has plenty left. (Give your extra prizes to the helper with the empty bag. Then have the two helpers sit down with the rest of the children.)
Something like this happened when Jesus and his disciples were sitting at the temple, watching people drop their money in the offering box. As they watched the crowds come by, they saw many rich people put in large amounts of money. It was an impressive offering the rich people gave. Then along came a poor widow. She put just a small amount into the box. But Jesus saw her, and he said to his disciples, “This poor widow has given more than all the others have given. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has” (Mark 12:43-44 nlt).
When we give our offerings of money or time or talent to God, he doesn’t compare our offerings to those of other people. Some of us have more time or more money than others to begin with. God looks at what we have to start with, and God looks at the attitude we have about giving. When we give with a generous and thankful heart as much as we possibly can, God is very pleased and happy.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us be generous in sharing all the gifts that came from you in the first place.
Pentecost Proper 10
From “Sitting on the Rainbow”
Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud
Scripture Reference: Amos 7:12-15
Preparation (optional): You may bring paper and a marker to write down some careers that the children list during the sermon.
What do you want to be when you grow up? (Let the children respond; you may write their ideas on the paper.)
Our ideas about what we want to do or be probably will change as we get older; but they may not. Some people decide at a very young age what they want to do as an adult, and that desire stays with them. They end up doing the very thing they had always planned on doing.
The Old Testament lesson today is from the book of Amos. Do you know what job Amos had? He was a herdsman and took care of cows all day. He made sure they had enough water and food, and he protected them from wild animals. He also was a tree trimmer. If there was a big tree growing next to somebody’s house with a big branch hanging right over the roof, he might be asked to trim that branch back so that it wouldn’t fall on the house and smash the roof. Do you think that’s a job that you’d like to do?
Amos worked as a herdsman and a tree trimmer, but God had other plans for him. One day, God told Amos to go and speak God’s messages to the people of Israel—to be a prophet. This was not Amos’s idea. He never dreamed of being a prophet. A prophet told the people what God wanted them to do and how to live. It was a very important job. I’m sure that when Amos was standing out in the field with his cows he had no idea that one day he would be a prophet.
Amos had probably gotten used to being a herdsman and a tree trimmer. He might have been nervous about taking on the job of speaking God’s words to the people. What if the people didn’t listen and laughed at him? But God didn’t let Amos down. He taught Amos what to say. God was with Amos the entire time, and Amos was a good prophet.
It’s okay to make plans for our lives and to start thinking what we’d like to do when we get older. In fact, it’s a very good thing. But sometimes, suddenly, God will change our plans. This change may be surprising; it may make us nervous or even scared. But you know, God’s plans for us are always for good. And whatever it is God has for us to do, he will also show us how to do it and make us strong enough to do it.
No one can know for absolute certain what they’re going to do when they grow up. But I know one thing for sure. Each one of you always will be a child of God. Even when you’re all grown up, you’ll still be a child of God. That will never change. And that is a very, very good thing to be.
Prayer: Dear God, as we grow up, help us decide what jobs we will have. Help us to learn your will for our lives. Thank you that we will always be your children.