Children’s Devotion Time December 2017: Jesus, the Word

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One of the churches in our parish has begun having inter-generational Sunday School once per month.  We call it “Children’s Devotion Time” or “CDT.”  Each child in the class has an older adult who serves as an individual mentor during devotion time.  It includes an opening prayer, a large group Bible Story, an age-appropriate leaflet about the day that they work on in child/adult pairs, a closing prayer, and a simple craft.  It is based on Family God Time, but done at church and for a larger group.  Join us in this new faith formation experiment!

You can learn more about just how we have set this up here: Children’s Devotion Time Instructions

Large Group Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for this time to learn more about how you are the Word of God, the Lord of Life, and the Light of the World.  Help us to learn and grow together.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Large Group Bible Story:  John 1:1-18
Read about Jesus, the Word in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+1%3A1-18&version=ERV

We used the Whirl Lectionary Story Bible for our resource.  It was the story called “Jesus, the Word.”  You can purchase your own copy here: https://www.wearesparkhouse.org/store/product/19372/Whirl-Story-Bible-Lectionary-Edition

Work in Pairs:
Each child/adult pair has a four-page leaflet to work on which is developmentally appropriate for the child.  They work through the leaflet together, taking as much time as they need.  This month, I developed the resource specifically for our children.  You can access it here (John 1 leaflet), or use the children’s bulletin from your church.

Large Group Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you are the Word, our Life, and our Light.  Help us bring your Word to those who need Light in their Life.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Activity:  Candle Chrismons
Chrismons are Christian Christmas tree decorations that tell the story of Jesus.  They are white and gold to remind us that Jesus is pure and holy, as well as king of all creation.  You can learn more about Chrismons here:  http://www.chrismon.org/chrismons-ministry.html Because we talked about Jesus as the light of the world during this devotion time, I thought it would be neat to do a candle Chrismon for the Christmas trees of our families.  If you make extra, feel free to bring them to area nursing homes, the shut-ins of your congregation, or give them out when you are Christmas caroling this season!

Supplies needed
Candle outline, printed on cardstock (Candle Chrismons)
white craft foam
glue
gold or white ribbon, for hangers
gold metallic Sharpies
white glitter
gold glitter
white glitter glue
gold glitter glue

1. Cut out the candle outline and glue it to the craft foam PRINTED SIDE DOWN, sandwiching the ends of the ribbon in between the two pieces. This will give you both an outline to cut out and a firm backing for your Chrismon.  When the glue is dry, cut out the foam.  I did this in advance.

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2.  Outline the foam side of the Chrismon in gold Sharpie. Decorate with glitter and glitter glue, as desired.

3.  When it is fully dry, hang it on your Christmas tree, or in another prominent spot where you will see it often.

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© 2017 by Pastor Breen Marie Sipes, Tri-Saints Lutheran Parish, Byron and Hardy, Nebraska.  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com Please give credit where credit is due!

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Thanksgiving 2017: Psalm 118

Each year at our family Thanksgiving meal, we try to do some kind of activity that reminds us that we give thanks, not just in general, but also specifically to God.  This year, we will do this through an art project for the picture window in dining room.

A few weeks ago, I introduced the idea of giving thanks to my kids with a craft I found at Michael’s:

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We hung them on the inside of our picture window, facing out, along with some leaf stickers on waxed paper.  The kids couldn’t wait to take a picture:

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They have been so excited to share their art installation that I thought we would include our family members who are joining us for Thanksgiving.  Before dinner, each person will get a stack of paper leaves:

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Here is the file to print the leaves out:  Leaves for Thanksgiving 2017
I printed them on card stock in “Spice Market” colors.

Everyone will also get something to write with, and the instructions to write what they are thankful for, one thing on each leaf.  While they work, I will play this song from Psalm 118 for inspiration:

When it is time for the meal, we will take turns going around the table and saying what is on our leaves, with the rest of the family responding “Thanks be to God.”  The kids will use gift wrapping tape to secure the leaves to the window as we pray.  We will conclude our prayers with a “repeat-after-me” version of this prayer:

Thanksgiving Prayer for Harvest Time
Loving God, all that we have
comes from your goodness
and the work of those who love us.
Bless us and the food we share.
Watch over those who care for us.
Open our eyes to the needs of the poor
during this time of
harvest and thanksgiving.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
(Elizabeth McMahon Jeep, Blessings and Prayers through the Year, Liturgy Training Publications 2004)

May God bless you and your family as we celebrate!  May it be a holy time for you.

Advent 2017: #jesusbirthatoz

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This Advent, our entire parish is diving deeply into the story of Jesus’ birth, including all of the stories around Jesus’ birth from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.  I am in the process of writing a daily devotion for the entire parish, which is gathered weekly into our “The Story of the Birth of Jesus from Beginning to End” flip book.  The resource is written toward my confirmation students, who are in fifth-eighth grade, but each day has elements that can be appreciated by younger children and adults, as well.

In our house, we have decided to make it a daily time at supper.  After our meal prayer and while the food is being served, our second grader reads the Bible verses and the questions for the day and shows us the picture.  As we eat, each of us has the opportunity to answer the questions for the day at our own level (I sometimes have to rephrase them for our four-year-olds).  Before everyone leaves the table, one of the children leads us in the prayer for the day repeat-after-me style (I whisper it into the ears of the ones who can’t yet read).

We are only a few days into the devotion, but I am encouraged by how interested they are in it.  We will be talking about it at church, as well, and given opportunities to decorate it each week as we wish.

If you and your family would like to use this resource, you can find it at https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/category/jesusbirthatoz/

New devotions will be available each week until January 21, so check back often.  I hope that this season is meaningful for you and your family!

Children’s Devotion Time October 2017: Wicked Tenants and Fruits of the Spirit

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One of the churches in our parish has begun having inter-generational Sunday School once per month.  We call it “Children’s Devotion Time” or “CDT.”  Each child in the class has an older adult who serves as an individual mentor during devotion time.  It includes an opening prayer, a large group Bible Story, an age-appropriate leaflet about the day that they work on in child/adult pairs, a closing prayer, and a simple craft.  It is based on Family God Time, but done at church and for a larger group.  Join us in this new faith formation experiment!

You can learn more about just how we have set this up here: Children’s Devotion Time Instructions

Large Group Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we are thankful for this time to learn more about being a part of your vineyard and learning to bear fruit.  Help us to learn and grow together.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Large Group Bible Story:  Matthew 21:33-46
Read the Parable of the Wicked Tenants in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+21%3A33-46&version=ERV

We used the Whirl Story Bible for our resource.  It was the story called “Whose Vineyard is it?”  You can purchase your own copy here:  https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/19372/Whirl-Story-Bible-Lectionary-Edition

Work in Pairs:
Each child/adult pair has a four-page leaflet to work on which is developmentally appropriate for the child.  They work through the leaflet together, taking as much time as they need.  I get these resources from sundaysandseasons.com, which is a paid subscription lectionary resource that my parish subscribes to.  You could also work through a children’s bulletin for the week from your church.

This month, I developed the resource for the center of the bulletin.  You can find this resource here:  Fruits of the Spirit leaflet 10 8 17

Large Group Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you give us everything we need.  Help us to remember that it all belongs to you.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Activity:  Fruits of the Spirit Fruit Salad
Ingredients:
1 banana, sliced
strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 can fruit cocktail (with pineapple, cherries, peaches, pears)
1 apple, cut in small chunks
1 small bunch of grapes
juice of ½ lemon
¼ seasonal melon, cut in chunks (we will use cantaloupe)

Taking the ingredients one by one, let the children assist you in mixing them up in a large bowl.  Remind them what each fruit means as you put it in.  Serve in small bowls with forks.

© 2017 by Pastor Breen Marie Sipes, Tri-Saints Lutheran Parish, Byron and Hardy, Nebraska.  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com Please give credit where credit is due!

Jesus Dies and Rises: Luke 22-24

**We took a bit of a summer vacation ourselves, but for the next two weeks at Family God Time, we will be reviewing the Bible stories that we learned at Vacation Bible School this summer. Our curriculum was Group’s Maker Fun Factory.
You can find week one of this series here: God Creates Us https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/god-creates-us-genesis-1-psalm-139/
You can find week 2 here: Rahab and the Spies
https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/rahab-and-the-spies-joshua-2/
You can find week 3 here: Gideon’s Army
https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/gideons-army-judges-7/

Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for time to feed our faith as a family, and time to learn about Gideon’s army. Help our time together to be a holy time. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story: Luke 22:14-20, 22:39-53, 23:32-35, 23:44-56, 24:1-8
Read the story of Jesus dying and rising in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+22%3A14-20%2C+22%3A39-53%2C+23%3A32-35%2C+23%3A44-56%2C+24%3A1-8&version=ERV

We reviewed the video that our parish made during VBS for our Bible story time. You can find it here:

 

Make the Story Come Alive
This is a really long story. In fact, in all of the gospels, the story of Jesus dying and rising takes up half of the total story. It is that important! However, it also might be hard for little ones to pay attention to from start to finish. We thought it would sink in better if we added movement and place to the story, and we invite you to tell it in the same way.

Materials needed:
A plate, cup and washcloth at station #1
A cross at station #3
A blanket for station #4

Station #1: Jesus eats with his friends
Ask, “Where do we go in our house to eat?” Let your children lead you there. Say, “On the day that he was arrested, Jesus ate a special meal with his friends. He took a loaf of bread and said. ‘This is my body, which I give for you. Do this to remember me.’” Pretend to give bread to each other from the plate. Then say, “At the end of the meal, he took a cup of wine and said, ‘This is my blood, which I pour out for you. Do this to remember me.’” Pretend to take sips from the cup. Then say, “At this meal, he also washed the feet of his disciples, and told them to love each other as much as he loved them first.” Pretend to wash each other’s feet with the washcloth. Then say, “After the meal, he and his friends went to a garden to pray. Where is our garden?” Follow the children to a garden, yard, or pot of flowers at your house.

Station #2: Jesus prays
Say, “Jesus was worried about what was going to happen to him. He prayed to God while his friends fell asleep. Let’s pray like he taught us to pray.” Pray the Lord’s Prayer together. If your family does not know the Lord’s Prayer, you could pray another prayer that you do know, or learn a repeat-after-me version with actions, below:

Our Father (ASL for “father,” open palm with thumb touching forehead)
Who art in heaven (two hands point up)
Hallowed be they name (trace a cross on your forehead)
Thy kingdom come (motion towards self with both arms)
Thy will be done on earth (point at ground)
As in heaven (point to heaven).
Give us this day our daily bread (one hand to mouth, as if eating)
And forgive us our trespasses (ASL for forgive, trace a circle on left palm and wipe it away)
As we forgive those who trespass against us (ASL forgive again)
And lead us not into temptation (cross out arms and shake head)
But deliver us from evil (pretend “devil” horns)
For thine is the kingdom (ASL “king,” a “k” from left shoulder to right hip)
And the power (muscleman arms)
And the glory (raise arms to sky)
Forever and ever (wind arms down)
Amen (praying hands)

When you are done praying in the garden, tell your family, “When Jesus was finished praying, soldiers came to arrest him and take him away. Can we make our feet sound like a whole bunch of stomping soldiers?” Practice doing this together. Then ask, “Where do we throw away garbage?” At our house, this is a dumpster, but you might have it in a trash bin in the garage, the kitchen, etc. Let your children lead you there, march like soldiers all the way.

Station #3: Jesus Dies
When you have arrived at the “garbage dump,” direct the attention of your family to the cross. Say, “Jesus was nailed to a cross at a garbage dump. Some people made fun of him. Some people asked him to forgive him. Jesus forgave everyone, and then he died. Can we sing, ‘Were you there’ together?” Sing a verse or two of “Were you There” together. If you are stumped, check out this video:

When you are finished singing, ask your family, “Is there anywhere in our house that reminds you of a cave?” It could be a small closet, or a root cellar, or even a cardboard box large enough to fit one of your children. We used one of our girl’s play tent. Let your children lead you there.

Station #4: Jesus is Buried
When you arrive at your cave, ask for a volunteer to be Jesus. Wrap them up in the blanket, lay them inside the “cave” and shut the door. Each of my kids wanted a turn, so we let each of them try it out. Say, “After Jesus died, his friends came to bury him. They wrapped him up in a cloth and laid him in a cave and shut the door. He stayed there for three days.”

Station #5: Jesus is Alive
Tell your Jesus to unwrap themselves and be ready to jump out of the cave. As a family, count to three together and open the cave. When Jesus jumps out, shout “Alleluia! He is risen!!!” You could also sing an Alleluia like you do in church. If you are stumped, try this version:

Thank you for experiencing this amazing story along with us!

Song: Jesus Loves Me
When we learned this story at VBS, we paired it with an old classic. Did you know that it has more than one verse? You can sing it here:

Activity: Cross Paintings
For our activity, I found this idea on Pinterest:

http://www.applesandabcs.com/2012/03/easter-cross.html

Here is a pic: IMG_20170803_084150836.jpg

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith! I hope that this time was holy time for you. Join us next week for out final VBS-themed Family God Time!

Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you died for us and rose again so that we can live. Help us to always remember how much you love us. In your name we pray, Amen.

Gideon’s Army: Judges 7

**For the next three weeks at Family God Time, we will be reviewing the Bible stories that we learned at Vacation Bible School this summer. Our curriculum was Group’s Maker Fun Factory.
You can find week one of this series here: God Creates Us https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/god-creates-us-genesis-1-psalm-139/
You can find week 2 here: Rahab and the Spies
https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/rahab-and-the-spies-joshua-2/

Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for time to feed our faith as a family, and time to learn about Gideon’s army. Help our time together to be a holy time. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Judges 7
Read the story of Gideon’s army in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges+7&version=ERV

We reviewed the video that our parish made during VBS for our Bible story time. You can find it here:

Now, read Joshua 1:9: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+1%3A9&version=NIV

Discuss as a family:
Who was Gideon?
What was Gideon’s army?
How did they defeat the Midianites?

Song: Be Strong and Courageous
Our focus verse for the day at VBS was Joshua 1:9. Here is a video to remind us of this verse:

Activity: Gideon’s Torches and Noisemakers
My favorite part of this story is when a small group of 300 people defeats an entire army by using their brains instead of their strength. We thought it would be fun to pretend to be that army for God Time.

To make the torches, gather a small, inexpensive LED flashlight, a roll of red tulle, duct tape (we used the orage tape from last week), and a scissor. For noisemakers, we purchased glowing whistles from the seasonal section of WalMart. I could have just used glow wands for this craft, but I wanted something that they could play with again and again. The glow whistles still work long after the glow stick part has faded.

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Wrap the tulle around the end of the flashlight to look like the flame coming off of a torch. Secure the tulle to the flashlight with the duct tape. Open the whistles and crack them to make them glow.

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Our girls then had a wonderful time running up and down a darkened hallway yelling “For the Lord and for Gideon!” I surely would have run away in fear!

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Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith! I hope that this time was holy time for you. Join us next week for another VBS-themed Family God Time!

Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you give us strength and courage. Help us to always stand up for what is right. In your name we pray, Amen.

 

Rahab and the Spies: Joshua 2

**For the next four weeks at Family God Time, we will be reviewing the Bible stories that we learned at Vacation Bible School this summer. Our curriculum was Group’s Maker Fun Factory. You can find week one of this series here: God Creates Us 

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Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for time to feed our faith as a family, and time to learn about Rahab. Help our time together to be a holy time. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:
Read the story of the creation of people in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua+2&version=ERV

We reviewed the video that our parish made during VBS for our Bible story time. You can find it here:

Now, read Romans 8:31: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A31&version=NIV

Discuss as a family:
1. Who was Rahab?
2. Who came to her house?
3. What did she do for them?
4. How did she ask them to help her?
5. What did they tell her to do?

Song: God is For Me
Our focus verse for the day at VBS was Romans 8:31. Here is a video from Lifetree Kids to remind us of this verse:

Game: Sardines with Spies
A large part of the story with Rahab was how she hid the spies that Joshua had sent so that they would be safe. We played a version of hide and seek called “Sardines,” though we adapted it to be “Spies.” One “spy” went to hide while all of the other spies counted to ten. Then, we searched for the first spy. When we found that person, we hid with them instead of calling attention to them, since the spies hid on Rahab’s rooftop. The last person to hide with the group was the next spy to hide. We played until all of our family members got a turn.

Activity: Rahab’s Wristband

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Another important part of the story was Rahab’s rescue plan. The spies from Joshua told her to hang a red rope from her window so that, when the Israelites conquered the city, the army would know where to find Rahab and rescue her and her family. I thought it would be a neat reminder of the story to wear a red wristband or bracelet that we could carry with us. However, when we went to buy supplies, they were out of red duct tape. We agreed that blaze orange would have been very easy for the army to see, so that’s what we went with.

We got the idea of how to do them here: http://happyhooligans.ca/duct-tape-cuff-bracelets/

My girls are hard on jewelry, so we added an extra layer of duct tape inside to make it more sturdy. Thanks to me, they also have tiny wrists. I added a tie to keep it on their wrists. To make the tie, cut off an 18 inch strip of duct tape. Fold it lengthwise so that the sticky side is on the inside and cut it into four marrow strips. Use an awl or something sharp to poke holes in the ends of the bracelet. Thread the tie through the holes and tie a bow. Trim the ends.

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My girls liked these so much that they asked us to make tiny ones for their stuffed animals:

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We made them thinner (half of the width) and cut a little more than an inch off of the length of the bracelet. The tie only needed to be 9 inches long. They especially love the stuffed animal bracelets, because they report that they are able to find their beloved animals at night when they fall out of bed.

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith! I hope that this time was holy time for you. Join us next week for another VBS-themed Family God Time!

Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you are always with us. In your name we pray, Amen.