For the third of five weeks, our parish has been supporting our youth in prayer as they journey to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Detroit, Michigan. This is a life-changing experience of worship, service, and reflection for over 30,000 high school youth and adults. For the next five weeks of Family God Time, we will explore the key Bible stories for each day of the Gathering (If you missed last week, go to https://familygodtime.wordpress.com).
Supplies: God Time pillows, candle and holder (see “Gathering,” below), My First Hands-On Bible (or other children’s or family Bible), access to the internet, blocks of wood and boards (or carpet squares or foam tiles or empty cereal boxes and rope)
Gather: We like to sit in a circle on the floor for God Time. Finding some pillows or cushions to sit on makes it even more comfortable. My kids like to use pillow pets for this purpose! Once you are in a circle, light a candle (or turn on a battery-operated one; we use an LED tea light in a pretty metal container). We were at camp for this God Time, so a circle on the ground in the shade was just the ticket.
Story: Read the story of “Jesus Walks on Water” in My First Hands-On Bible or another children’s or family Bible. If you are using the My First Hands-On Bible, feel free to do the activities and questions described there. If you don’t have a children’s Bible, check out this version: Mark 6:45-52
Discuss: What would it have been like to be in a boat in a strong wind? What would you have done if you saw Jesus walking on water? Why do you think he did this? Do you think that Jesus has the power to comfort us when we are scared? Why or why not?
Song: Sometimes, we have times when we are scared, and we need to hear Jesus’ words of encouragement. Here is a short song that you can use over and over again when you are afraid to help to remind you that Jesus is always with you:
Activity: Building Bridges
One theme that the National Youth Gathering participants are going to explore is “building bridges,” so we thought we would build some of our own! We were at camp for this God Time, so we borrowed some boards already made for walking across, held hands, and carefully crossed the sea, just like Jesus! If you are at home, you could set out wooden blocks in random patterns in your yard (scrap pieces from the end of boards work great) and practice linking one block to another with a board. Then, cross together, shouting “Jesus helps us build bridges!” You could do this several times, until your kids tired of the game (hint: my kids did not tire of this game, their legs just got too tired to do it anymore!). If it is raining, you could do this inside with pillows by lining them up from one side of a room to another and doing the same thing. Here are our pics from this activity:
Prayer: (You can do this all together, or as a “repeat after me” prayer, depending on reading ability. Feel free to make up your own!) Dear Jesus, we thank you for helping us learn about you walking on water. Help us build bridges, between our family members, our friends, and those in need, even as we remember those at the National Youth Gathering in Detroit who are working to do this, too. We ask that, through us, all may know your love. In your name we pray, Amen.