The temptation when creating a children’s message for the transfiguration story is to explain or interpret the supernatural aspects of Jesus’ transformation on the mountain. An important reminder: kids aren’t developmentally ready to comprehend the theological aspects of the transfiguration. But–are any of us ready? Kids may help the congregation to embrace the mystery of the story without trying to explain it away.
It’s a story full of exciting details and drama. This would be a great Sunday to simply read it from a children’s Bible. A tip (this can also be used for other Scripture readings in worship, or for the regular sermon): have the kids (and the congregation) listen for a repeated word in the story. Each time they hear the word, have them do an action: repeat the word aloud, raise their hand, say “Amen,” etc. For this Sunday, handing out glow sticks for them to lift up when they hear a word would connect to the story. (Though I acknowledge these are wasteful–maybe flameless reusable tea lights would be a better option.)
Remember: kids are very used to sitting and listening to stories. They’re good at it and practice it every day in school. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling, or feel like you’re shirking your children’s message by “only” reading it from a Bible. Scripture stands on its own!
Optional sensory activities:
*This is a great story to act out. Include an adult or two if you’re able. You could plan ahead and practice, but that’s not a requirement. A spontaneous acting out can be fun–where else in worship do we see spontaneity? Consider using simple props (pull out those Christmas program costumes!). Shining a flashlight under the chin of the person playing Jesus could represent the transfiguration.
*If you’d like to talk about the reaction of the disciples, set up a tent in the worship space and discuss how Peter wanted to stay on the mountain. He wanted to contain Jesus’ power and keep it in one place. But Jesus doesn’t work that way. It’s fun to be in a tent for a while, but a tent is meant to be taken down and moved. Jesus wants his love to be shown everywhere. How are some ways kids can show Jesus’ love in and outside of the church building–at home, at school, with their friends?