Here is a free lesson to use for children’s ministry for the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is the 40-day period leading up to Easter. It begins with Ash Wednesday, and leads up to Holy Week. On Ash Wednesday, many churches will have services, during which ashes are placed on congregants’ foreheads or hands in the shape of a cross. In the following days, many people will give up something for Lent, a practice that is known as fasting. There are many different things people may “fast” from, including food, social media, television, sugar, etc. Holy Week is the period of time in which people remember (and sometimes re-enact) the passion, which is the series of events that led up to the crucifixion of Christ.
Bible Story: The Transfiguration
Scripture: Luke 9:28–36
Bible Verse: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35)
Wonder Question: What distracts you from being a good listener?
Jesus is often seen retreating to a mountain to pray—to spend time with God the Father. In this story, Jesus brings his closest friends and disciples: Peter, James, and John. It is on this mountain that they learn Jesus is not just a messiah—he is the Son of God. As Jesus is transfigured, giving a preview of his coming glory, the disciples see Elijah and Moses talking with him. Elijah represents the Old Testament prophets and Moses the Old Testament law. Peter wants to build them tents so they can stay longer. At this God speaks, giving credibility to Jesus’ sonship. This story marks the beginning of the journey that leads Jesus to Jerusalem, where he will accomplish his task.
- markers or crayons
- plain paper
- printed coloring sheets (optional)
- note cards (optional)
Invitation into the Story
Say: Welcome! I’m going on a journey with Jesus for the next few weeks. I want to learn what he has to say in the Gospel of Luke. I think he has a lot of great things to tell us. Would you like to go on this journey with me to listen to him? Great!
Ask: Have you ever been in a crowded room when it was hard to hear what someone was saying? Why do you think it is so hard to hear them?»What are some other ways that make it hard to listen to someone?
Select one or more activities to do.
Option One: Select a child to wear some noise-canceling headphones or earplugs and have them face away from you while you talk to them to see if they can hear you. Then have them move closer and face you to see when they are able to hear what you are saying. You can do this with several children if you have time.
Option Two: Have the children sit in a circle and play a good old-fashioned game of telephone. Think of a phrase to tell one child who will then whisper it to the next person and then the next until all have had a turn. The last child to hear the phrase will then tell the group what they thought they heard. It may or may not be what you initially told the first child.
Option Three: Divide children up into four groups and then mix them up. Put blindfolds on them (in a safe, open space) and have them say their numbers out loud to find all the other members of their group. They can walk around or have them get on all fours for a safer option. The ones should find the ones by listening to the others. The activity is done when all the numbers have found each other.
Ask: What made it difficult to hear? How hard did you have to try to listen? Do you think sometimes we don’t hear because we aren’t paying close enough attention?What makes it difficult for us to hear God? I wonder what God sounds like? Have you ever heard God? Where do you hear him the most?
Say: God can speak to us through other people like teachers, parents, friends, or family. God can speak to us in nature because God created it. God can speak to us by being quiet and just listening. God can speak to us through songs and music. God can speak to us through art and drawings. God can speak to us in Scripture—the Bible. That is where we find the stories of God’s people. That is where we find the stories about Jesus. Today, we are going to hear one of those stories. It may not be one you have ever heard before, so you will have to listen carefully.
Listen to Him
You can choose to read the story or show a video.
Hear the Story: Read Luke 9:28–36
• Have older children take turns reading portions out loud (or) select a few children to act out the parts as you read it.
See the Story
- Video for older children (Legos) https://youtu.be/sT-S1F3gsVI
- Video for younger children (song) https://youtu.be/wkz3DMvA7zA
Respond to the Story
Ask: I wonder what you heard in that story? Who went up on a mountain to pray? Why do you think Jesus had to spend time praying? »Do you think Jesus needed to listen to God too? Who were the people that showed up while Jesus was praying? Have you ever heard of Moses or Elijah? Have you ever had to wait somewhere and get sleepy like Jesus’ friends? Why do you think Peter wanted to build them tents? Do you think they thought those men were important?Whose voice came from the cloud? What did God say?
Say: It’s our memory verse for today, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him” (Luke 9:35). Can you repeat that with me? (Make motions with hands to help them remember the text and verse. Have them repeat it to the person beside them.)
Ask: Why do you think God told Jesus’ friends (Peter, James, and John) to listen to his Son? Do you think we are supposed to listen to Jesus too? What things get in the way of being able to hear Jesus? What are some ways we can hear Jesus better? What do you imagine Jesus might want to say to us?
Remind children of all the ways that God speaks to us and that one of those ways is through pictures and drawings. Distribute paper and markers or crayons.
Option One: Draw a picture of what you think God sees or hears when we pray.
Option Two: Draw a picture of what you see or hear when you listen to God.
Option Three: Listen to Jesus by praying in color. (Look up www.prayingincolor.com and click on “What Is Praying in Color” for a brief overview.)
Praying in color is a way for those who have a hard time staying focused (or awake like the disciples) while listening.
Auditory or kinesthetic learners will gravitate to this discipline because it helps hold their attention while drawing or coloring in prayer. This medium works for all ages because you can draw a picture or write someone’s name. It also works as a journal entry for old children as they learn to really listen to Jesus.
Review the Story
Say: Let’s take turns retelling our Bible story from today. I will start us off and then someone else can add the next part of the story. (You can select children to do this or have them volunteer.)
Ask: Who can tell me what our memory verse was for today?
Say: Let’s say it all together now. Luke 9:35: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
Ask: Does anyone want to share what they drew while listening? »What was one thing you learned today?
Say: It is important to God for us to listen to Jesus so we can know him better. We are going to be listening to some more stories of people in the Gospel of Luke in the next few weeks that help us know him better. I hope you will come back and listen with me!
Older children: “Who is Jesus?” Scavenger Hunt. Make cards with Scripture verses on them and hide them around the room. Then have children look up their verse and share with the group what characteristics Jesus has or what he is doing (Matthew 8:25; 12:8; 20:31; Luke 19:10; John 1:1; 6:48; 8:12; Acts 2:36; Revelation 22:13; 22:16)
Younger children: Print Transfiguration Coloring Page https://bit.ly/2EY3BLY
Invite children to share their prayer requests.
Say: Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending us your only Son, Jesus, so that we could know you better. Help us to listen to him better this week. Thank you for making us all so unique that we hear you in different ways. Thank you for giving us your Word so that we can get to know what his voice sounds like above all others. Amen.
If you enjoyed this lesson, you can get the rest of them as part of the church-wide kit Listen to Him. Included in the kit are: 1) 40-Day Daily Devotional book 2) Six video sessions, delivered via DVD and streaming 3) Sunday Sermon Outlines, delivered digitally (will deliver week of 1/21) 4) Small Group Discussion Guide, delivered digitally 5) Children’s Teaching Plans, delivered digitally 6) Youth Teaching Plans, delivered digitally. Get it from our store here.