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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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!

Follow the Star Week 4: Advent 2016

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“For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
–The words of the wise men in Matthew 2:2

For those churches which follow a three year cycle of Sunday readings, called the Revised Common Lectionary, this year most of our readings about Jesus will be from the Gospel of Matthew.  I love the year of Matthew, because this year is the one that tells us the story of the wise men which appear on Epiphany.  Because of its emphasis on the wise men, I thought it might be fun to go star-crazy this year from Advent to Epiphany.  We continue the season with a four week craft which builds on itself as we watch the star rise to show the way to Jesus.

If you missed week 1, you can find it here:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/follow-the-star-week-1-advent-2016/

If you missed week 2, you can find it here:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/follow-the-star-week-2-advent-2016/

If you missed week 3, you can find it here:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/follow-the-star-week-3-advent-2016/

Supplies needed per star:
Week 4:
Clear flat ½” marble
Black paint marker
Gold puffy paint
Paintbrush
1 Permanent Glue Dot

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Gathering:  Light your Advent wreath, get out your Advent Spiral, or turn on the Christmas tree so that your family knows something special is about to happen.

Gathering Prayer: (repeat-after-me style)
Dear God, we thank you for time to spend together as a family as we wait for Jesus to come.  Help this time to be a holy time.

Bible Story:
Ask your kids to tell you the story of Jesus being born.  If they can’t come up with it off hand, you might want to get out a nativity set and have them tell you about all of the pieces.  You can also use this to help them to learn the story.  A Children’s Bible or Children’s Christmas story book might also come in handy.  If you are stumped, you can watch this short video:

After you have sorted out the story, remind them:  There were lots of people waiting for Jesus to be born.  Angels.  Mary.  Joseph.  Shepherds.  Sheep!  Who was the group who came from the farthest away?  The wise men!  They had been watching the sky for a special star that would tell them that an important king had been born.  We know this because, in the Epiphany story, the wise men tell the people in Jerusalem, “For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

This year during Advent, we are going to wait for Jesus like the wise men, watch his star rise, and celebrate when he is born!

Craft:  Popsicle Stick Star
Instructions for Week 4:

  1. Position your marble so that it is flat side up.  Use the paint marker to draw a small cross on the flat surface.  Dry completely.

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  1. Add a small dot of gold glitter puffy paint to the flat surface.  Using the paint brush, gently move the paint around until it is evenly distributed over the whole flat surface.  Dry completely.

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  1. Flip the marble over.  It should look like this:

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  1. Using the permanent Glue Dot or other permanent glue, attach the marble to the apex of the star.

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When you have finished making your star(s), hang them ¾ of the way up your Christmas tree, or put it somewhere off the floor but not too high.  It will not arrive at the top of the tree until Christmas Eve!

If you’d like to go star-crazy with us, here is another star that you and your family can make this week:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/follow-the-star-2016-star-cookie-decorating/

Song:  I Wonder As I Wander
You might be wondering why we would add a cross, the symbol of Jesus’ death, to our star celebrating Jesus’ birth.  This song is the answer.  I hope you enjoy it.

Closing Prayer: (repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, you are our bright morning star.  As we watch our little stars rise, help us to follow where you lead, both now and always.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Follow the Star 2016: Star Cookie Decorating

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photo by 40542289@N02 on flickr.com

 

I told you that we were going to go star crazy this Advent, so here is another star to work on.  They are sure to be tasty, too!

Note:  for steps one through three, I asked a grandma in our congregation to provide the pre-baked cookies for our activity.  She was more than happy to do so!

  1. Make or purchase dough.
  2. Cut out stars and bake.
  3. Cool completely.
  4. Mix or purchase your favorite frosting, and add yellow food coloring.  Here is what we used:

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  1. Frost cookies and add clear sugar.
  2. Eat, share, and enjoy!

Have fun following the star with the wise men this Advent!

Follow the Star Week 3: Advent 2016

“For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
–The words of the wise men in Matthew 2:2

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For those churches which follow a three year cycle of Sunday readings, called the Revised Common Lectionary, this year most of our readings about Jesus will be from the Gospel of Matthew.  I love the year of Matthew, because this year is the one that tells us the story of the wise men which appear on Epiphany.  Because of its emphasis on the wise men, I thought it might be fun to go star-crazy this year from Advent to Epiphany.  We will start the season with a four week craft which builds on itself as we watch the star rise to show the way to Jesus.  Below, find the complete supplies list for the next three weeks.  The star instructions will be revealed week by week.

If you missed week 1, you can find it here:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/follow-the-star-week-1-advent-2016/

If you missed week 2, you can find it here:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/follow-the-star-week-2-advent-2016/

Supplies needed per star:
Week 3:
Craft tags or brown kraft paper and a hole punch
Scissor
Brown string
“Follow” stamp or nice handwriting with a black felt-tip or gel pen
Black ink stamp pad (if using stamp)

Week 4:
Clear flat ½” marble
Black paint marker
Gold puffy paint
Paintbrush
1 Permanent Glue Dot

Gathering:  Light your Advent wreath, get out your Advent Spiral, or turn on the Christmas tree so that your family knows something special is about to happen.

Gathering Prayer: (repeat-after-me style)
Dear God, we thank you for time to spend together as a family as we wait for Jesus to come.  Help this time to be a holy time.

Bible Story:
Ask your kids to tell you the story of Jesus being born.  If they can’t come up with it off hand, you might want to get out a nativity set and have them tell you about all of the pieces.  You can also use this to help them to learn the story.  A Children’s Bible or Children’s Christmas story book might also come in handy.

After you have sorted out the story, remind them:  There were lots of people waiting for Jesus to be born.  Angels.  Mary.  Joseph.  Shepherds.  Sheep!  Who was the group who came from the farthest away?  The wise men!  They had been watching the sky for a special star that would tell them that an important king had been born.  We know this because, in the Epiphany story, the wise men tell the people in Jerusalem, “For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

This year during Advent, we are going to wait for Jesus like the wise men, watch his star rise, and celebrate when he is born!

Craft:  Popsicle Stick Star
Instructions for Week 3:

  1. Cut out your tag so that it measures 7/8 inch wide and 3 ¼ inches tall.  Punch a hole about ½ inch from the top of the tag, if you are using kraft paper.
  2. Using a stamp and ink or a nice pen, stamp or write the word “follow” down the length of the tag.
  3. Cut a notch in the bottom of the tag so that it looks like a pennant.
  4. Cut a 12 inch piece of brown string and attach it to the tag with a loop. The completed tag will look like this:IMG_20161208_104453265 (2).jpg
  1. Attach the tag to the bottom of your star with a bow, as shown:

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When you have finished making your star(s), hang them ½ of the way up your Christmas tree, or put it somewhere off the floor but not too high.  It is going to take four weeks for it to rise to the top!

If you’d like to go star-crazy with us, here is another star that you and your family can make this week: https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/12/08/follow-the-star-2016-yarn-wrapped-star/

Song:  We Three Kings
Here is my favorite version of this song.  It reminds us of the importance of the star to the story:

Closing Prayer: (repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, you are our bright morning star.  As we watch our little stars rise, help us to follow where you lead, both now and always.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Advent Traditions part 2: Saint Nicholas Day

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My family and I celebrate Saint Nicholas every year on December 6th, Saint Nicholas’ saint day.  Did you know that Saint Nicholas is Santa Claus’ real name?  You can learn more about Saint Nicholas here:

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/for-kids/

In our house, it is a day to celebrate Saint Nicholas, give as he gave, and serve as he served.  Here are some ingredients for your own Saint Nicholas Day celebration:

Movies: 

To remind us of the story of Saint Nicholas, we usually watch one or both of these movies on Saint Nicholas Day:

Veggie Tales:  Saint Nicholas:  A Story of Joyful Giving:  https://www.amazon.com/VeggieTales-Nicholas-Story-Joyful-Giving/dp/B004EDS93E

Buck Denver asks:  Why Do They Call it Christmas?  https://www.amazon.com/Buck-Denver-Asks-Call-Christmas/dp/B00FM5P2MY

Food:

Saint Nicholas was known for giving help to the poor and needy in the form of gold coins and gold balls.  On Saint Nicholas Day, we eat chocolate coins and clementines to remind us of his generosity.

Saint Nicholas was also a bishop who wore a red robe and carried a crozier, or shepherd’s crook, as a sign of his status.  We eat candy canes on Saint Nicholas Day to remind ourselves that he was a bishop who cared for God’s flock on earth.

If you want to add some fun, make sure there is something orange or chocolate or peppermint at each meal on Saint Nicholas Day.  Our special favorite is orange pancakes with mini chocolate chips and peppermint cocoa.

Gift-Giving:

Because we like to focus on Jesus on Christmas, Saint Nicholas Day is the major gift-giving holiday in our household.  Saint Nicholas brings a special ornament to each child, and we give gifts to one another.  As they get older, I think it will be fun to try to give the gifts anonymously, so you know what you gave, but you don’t know exactly who the gifts you receive are from.  Saint Nicholas gave because Christ gave first.  We give because Christ gave first, with Saint Nicholas as our example.

Service:

Saint Nicholas was known for helping the poor and those in need.  Be creative as you figure out an age-appropriate way for your family to serve together.  We have done several things over the years, including choosing a person from our local angel tree and shopping for them, giving to Toys for Tots, making cookies and delivering them to a local assisted living center, and making layette kits for Lutheran World Relief.  This year, we made hand-made Christmas ornaments and delivered them to some older folks in our area.  We also told them the story of Saint Nicholas and did some Christmas caroling.

As our children grow older, we would like to emphasize the day of service aspect even more.  When they are teenagers, we plan to go to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and spend the day serving.  Tailor your experience to the age and developmental abilities of your family.

Other Traditions:

This year, we decorated our Christmas tree on Saint Nicholas Day morning.  The night before, my husband and I put up the tree and put lights on it.  It was ready to be decorated when the girls woke up on Saint Nicholas Day.  Each of our girls has a box with her own special ornaments given to her each year on Saint Nicholas Day.  After our girls opened their new ornaments, I brought out their boxes, and each girl had a wonderful time looking through their ornaments, telling the stories they remembered about each ornament, and hanging them on the tree.  It also kept them busy while my husband made pancakes!  I could see this becoming a yearly tradition.

Our parents love to have an annual Saint Nicholas picture with our kids, so another tradition that we have upheld has been Santa pics on Saint Nicholas Day.  This year, we stayed close to home, so the Saint Nicholas pics will have to wait for another day.

I hope you have a wonderful time establishing Advent traditions with your family!

Follow the Star 2016: Yarn Wrapped Star

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We are continuing to go star crazy this Advent, so here is another star to work on.  Our children and youth will be making them during Sunday School this month, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!  Find the step-by-step instructions, below.

A big thanks to this site for the idea:
http://theinspiredtreehouse.com/christmas-crafts-for-kids-yarn-wrapped-ornaments/#_a5y_p=2999580

Materials:

  • cereal box
  • star template
  • scissors
  • marker
  • 1 glue dot
  • hole punch
  • multi-color yarn

The instructions did not have specifics, so this is how I put them together:

  1. Flatten a cereal box and trace a star onto one side. You can find a star template here:  star-templateIMG_20161208_104126222.jpg
  2. Cutting through two layers at once, cut out the star.
  3. Flip the stars so that they are brown side out. You might have to shift them so that they match.  Secure the two stars together with a glue dot.
  4. Punch a hole toward the middle of one arm of the star. Cut an 8 inch piece of yarn or ribbon and string it through the hole.  Make a knot.  Here is your hanger.  Here’s what it looks like at this point:IMG_20161208_104211397.jpg
  5. Cut a 7 yard piece of multi-colored yarn and roll it into a ball. Attach one end of the yarn to the star with a piece of tape and wrap.  Tuck the loose end into the wrapping when you are finished.IMG_20161208_104220973.jpg
  6. Depending on the ability or attention span of the child or youth working on the star, you can add more yarn, as you wish. Here is the completed star with 7 yards of yarn:

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  1. Here is a completed star with 21 yards of yarn:

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Have fun following the star with the wise men this Advent!