I have been reflecting on how the world seems to leave Thanksgiving behind, with the manic energy of Halloween skipping right to 24/7 carols about snowmen and reindeer. To counteract this trend, my family and I have been working on thankfulness in the 30 days between Halloween and December 1. We are calling it #thirtydaysofthankfulness and it shows up in a concrete way on our picture window:
Each night at supper, we each take turns saying something new that we are thankful for that day. It doesn’t happen every day, and we put up all the leaves at once so that it felt more like a celebration than a failed obligation. I am hoping that our Thanksgiving Day prayers will be much more full because of this practice, and I have noticed that it is helping to expand my own thinking about naming blessings in the ordinary and every day.
We have also been singing our thanks in the evenings. Depending on your singers, you can have one leader who gathers all of the thanks in advance, or each person can lead their own verse. Here is an example of how to do this:
May your Thanksgiving celebrations be blessed, this year and always.
This fall we are using Illustrated Children’s Ministry Compassion Family Devotions to guide our time together. You can purchase a copy for your group here:
Group Story: Read the story out loud
with the group, taking time to look at the pictures in the leaflet as you go.
(Use Story Time from “Shiphrah and Puah’s Courage” pg. 19 and pictures on pg.
2. Large Group Song: Saved By Grace (chords: DAGA) Sing the song together.
I wanted to make a basket instead of a pencil cup for this craft, so I went to the dollar store, and found a single serve Rice-A-Roni container that was the right size and shape. One of the flavors was on sale for $1, so that’s the one I chose. Remove the top and contents, wipe out the container, remove the label, and then follow the instructions from the first post, above.
As you weave, remind them about the story they just learned, and then tell them about how the story leads to Moses. After Pharaoh ordered the babies thrown into the river, Moses’ mother kept her son safe and hidden in a basket until he was too big to hide. Then, she put him in the river in the basket, and a princess found him and raised him as her own. Many people worked to keep the babies safe in that time.
When you have finished weaving, add
something soft for the baby to lay in (we used fleece scraps left over from another
project), and add a baby (you could use a mini doll or a wooden doll, as shown
in the picture).
5. Large Group Prayer: Use the provided prayer in a repeat-after-me fashion.
Dear God, thank you for the story
of the midwives in Egypt
and the way that they helped the babies
and moms who were in trouble.
Help us to have compassion
for those who need our help. Amen.
During the summer months, many of our families are not physically present with us, or are present infrequently, due to sports, vacations, county fairs, etc. I wanted to provide a way to deepen faith on the go and still connect to worship when they could attend. The resources are in two parts: Faith Shapes and Devos to Go
Faith Shapes is a set of large play dough mat cards that we will use in worship. They include a symbol to fill in with dough, as well as a quote from a gospel lesson from the Sundays in Easter. We are returning to these lessons because the season of Pentecost focuses on growth in the Spirit. As Jesus tells his disciples:
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teachyou everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
John 14:25 NRSV
I printed each symbol out one-sided on cardstock and then ran them through my Xyron Creative Station laminator two at a time with the symbols facing out. I wanted them to be sturdy for use over and over. I put them together in a booklet, punched a hole, and loosely attached to one another with a zip tie. In the end, they looked like this:
In worship, I provided Crayola Dough (which has a pleasant smell and is less crumbly than other brands) and medium-sized trays to try to keep the mess off of our fabric-covered pews.
Devos to Go
The second resource is Devos to Go. Its goal is to help children and youth (and adults!) to take their faith with them in the spirit of Deuteronomy :
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NRSV
Each card has a symbol which corresponds to the ones we are using in worship, an NRSV Bible story, questions to discuss, and a prayer.
I printed this resource two-sided on cardstock and ran them through my Xyron Creative Station laminator. I also put them together in a booklet, punched a hole with an awl, and bound them together with a short zip tie. I plan to give them out at the end of worship every week to those who don’t have them, and make more if needed. They will also receive a baggie of dough or two dry erase markers (whichever one their parents agree to, based on age and level of mess tolerance). I sent them on vacation with my own children, and gave them dry erase markers for the car, and dough for outside on the deck at their grandparents’ house. Here’s what this resource looks like:
the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in
one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like
the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were
sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and
a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with
the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them
Why do you think
that the Holy Spirit comes in wind, fire, and language? How do you experience the Holy Spirit? What is the Spirit stirring up in you?
Holy Spirit, Breath of Life, breathe the fire of your love into us. Shape us, give us life, make us whole. Help us to spread the love of Christ to the ends of the earth. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
[Jesus said] “You will receive
power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in
Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When
he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him
out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing
up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They
said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus,
who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you
saw him go into heaven.”
Why do you think that Jesus ascends to heaven, instead of staying on earth?
Why send the Holy Spirit?
What are you looking forward to?
Risen Christ, thank you for making a place for us in heaven. Send your Holy Spirit among us, that we may be your risen people. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Jesus answered [Judas
(not Iscariot),] “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will
love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever
does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not
mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25“I have said these things to you while I am still with
you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have
said to you.
Where is the place that you call home?
What difference does it make to know that God is at home with you there, as well?
What do you think of the Holy Spirit?
Where does the Spirit show up in your life?
Risen Christ, thank you for making your home with us, and for sending your Holy Spirit to teach us and remind us of your presence. Fill us with your abiding love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.