Children’s Devotion Time May 2017: Plenty of Room

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

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Large Group Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we are thankful for this time to learn more about God’s house.  Help us to learn and grow together.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Large Group Bible Story:  John 14:1-14
Read about Jesus’ description of God’s house in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+14%3A1-14&version=ERV

We used the Spark Story Bible for our resource.  It was the story called “God’s House.”  You can purchase your own copy here:  https://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/8122/Spark-Story-Bible-Sunday-School-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.

Large Group Closing Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you always make room for us, and that we always have a home with you.  Help us to learn to welcome others, as you first welcome us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Activity:  God’s House
Supplies
House Template printed on cardstock:  God’s House Template
2 Popsicle Sticks per house
Glue
Scissors
Coloring Supplies

Instructions

  1. Cut out the house template and fold the front doors in.

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  1. Color the outside of the house as a house.

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  1. Open the front doors and draw a picture of yourself.

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  1. Close the front doors again and glue the popsicle sticks to the roof of the house. Allow to dry. (When I made my example, I glued the sticks on first.  I do not recommend it. 🙂 )

Blessings on your time together!  I hope it is a holy time for you!

© 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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Jesus Makes His Home in Us: John 14:23

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 how Jesus makes his home in us.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Verse:  John 14:23
This week’s devotion is a single verse from John 14.  You can see it as a visual verse here:

Play it several times with your family, until it has made it from your head into your heart.  You might even develop motions for the verse to get your bodies involved!

These are the motions that my family developed:
Those who love me (hug self)
will keep my word (open hands, palms up, like an open book)
And my Father (point up to the sky)
will love them (hug self)
and we will come to them (arms from sky to floor)
and make our home with them (group hug).

Discuss as a family:
How do we show God that we love him?  How do we keep God’s word?  (hint:  the Word is the Bible) How do we know that God loves us?  Where do you call home?  Why do you consider it your home?  What do you think it means that God has a home in you?

Song:  Home
Usually I don’t suggest secular music on this blog, but this week I just couldn’t resist.  This song is very close to the hearts of my husband and me.  It echoes the words of Ruth 1:16

But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”

This was one of the readings at our wedding, and this is a song that we played as we moved all the way across the country to Nebraska.  Fair warning:  the original song has some words that you might not want your kids singing, like “ain’t” and “a**”.  I found a couple of versions that I think would be fine for kids, but please preview them to make sure they work for your family.

Our family learned the chorus, “Home!  Let me come home! Home is wherever I’m with you!” from the first video, and let the second video play on repeat as we built our fort to remind us that We are always home wherever we are because God is at home in us.

Here is a version with just the chorus:

Here is a full version:

Activity:  Play Fort Building

My children love to build forts on rainy or super hot days.  We even have a fort-making set from Discovery Kids.  You can build your fort with whatever you have on hand.  As you build, you can say, “Hey family!  Where does Jesus live?”  and teach them to respond “Jesus makes his home in us!”

You might even arrange to have an indoor picnic in your fort to prolong the fun.

Here is a pic of one of our forts:

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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.

Closing Prayer: (Can be a repeat after me prayer if you have non-readers in your family)
Dear God, we thank you that for holy time together as a family.  Help us to remember that you always make your home in us, no matter where we go.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Jesus is Alive! Week 3: Luke 24:1-12

surprise!

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 the time when Jesus came back to life.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Luke 24:1-12
Around our house, the holidays of Christmas and Easter last for weeks as our kids tell and retell the story.  If you did not get a chance to do this last week, I suggest Group’s My First Hands-On Bible as a great introduction to the Easter Story.  You can purchase one here:  http://www.christianbook.com/my-first-hands-on-bible/9781414348308/pd/348308

If this is your second week working with the story, you might choose another Bible or even a Bible story book with the Easter story in it.  Ask them how this second version compares to the first (you might have to get out the first version to compare and contrast).

If your kids really have a handle on this story, have them tell it to you, read the story, and compare both versions.  We want them to know the big stories of the faith not only by heart, but also in their hearts, so a little repetition never hurt anyone.

If you don’t have easy access to this story, check out an Easy to Read Version here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24%3A1-12&version=ERV

Activity:  Capsule Surprise
One of the important things to drive home about the Easter story is what a surprise it was to the women and the disciples.  They truly did not expect to come to the tomb to find it empty; they came to prepare for the funeral of their Lord.  One way to show this to your children is to purchase sponge capsules at the dollar store or in the seasonal section of a discount store.  I happened to find ones that were specifically for Easter, but any ones will work.

Get a bowl full of warm water and some sticks or chopsticks.  You might want to do this in the kitchen or the bathroom to contain the water mess, and also consider giving a separate bowl to each child (mine didn’t share a single bowl very well).

Show them the capsule without the packaging.  Ask them what they think it is.  Ask them what they think will happen if we drop it in warm water.  Then tell them, “This capsule reminds me of Jesus when he was dead and in the tomb:  not fun, not useful, just dead.”  Then ask, “But what happened three days later?”  Then drop the capsules in the water and wait to see.  We poked/stirred them with the chopsticks to help them open.  My kids started chanting “One, two three!” to remind them how many days it took for Jesus to rise from the dead.  Here’s what ours looked like:

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When they are open, yell “Surprise!  Jesus is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!”  Squeeze the water out of them, and let your kids keep them to remind them of the surprise of Easter.  You will be surprised how something this simple will stay with them; a couple of weeks after we did this activity, one of my two-year-olds brought her sponge to me and told me “Jesus is alive!”  She keeps track of it very well, and it has become a treasured possession.

Song:  Christ Arose
This song is a perennial Easter favorite around our house.  Enjoy!

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith!  I hope that this time was holy time for you.

Closing Prayer: (Can be a repeat after me prayer if you have non-readers in your family)
Thank you, God, for this holy time together to feed our faith as a family.  Bless us as we remember that you are alive!  Alleluia!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Journey Around the Cross: Prayer for the Second Sunday in Easter

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Here is a prayer that you and your family can pray during the second week of Easter Sunday. You can light your candle each day as you pray, or light your candle on each Sunday in the season of Easter, whatever works better for you and your family.  You can find a take-home sheet with the same prayer here: Easter 2 Prayer 2016

Thank you, God,
for giving us the tools we need
to be your people in this world.
Help us to spread the good news.
Alleluia!  Amen.

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Jesus is Alive! Week 2: Luke 24:1-12

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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 the time when Jesus came back to life.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Luke 24:1-12
Around our house, the holidays of Christmas and Easter last for weeks as our kids tell and retell the story.  If you did not get a chance to do this last week, I suggest Group’s My First Hands-On Bible as a great introduction to the Easter Story.  You can purchase one here:  http://www.christianbook.com/my-first-hands-on-bible/9781414348308/pd/348308

If this is your second week working with the story, you might choose another Bible or even a Bible story book with the Easter story in it.  Ask them how this second version compares to the first (you might have to get out the first version to compare and contrast).

If your kids really have a handle on this story, have them tell it to you, read the story, and compare both versions.  We want them to know the big stories of the faith not only by heart, but also in their hearts, so a little repetition never hurt anyone.

If you don’t have easy access to this story, check out an Easy to Read Version here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24%3A1-12&version=ERV

Activity:  Christ-Sun Easter Eggs
I grew up in the great white north, where there is no such thing as an Easter egg hunt on Easter.  There was no way that we were going to hunt eggs in several inches of snow in sleeveless dresses and new church sandals!  So, as we were dyeing our Easter eggs this year, I wondered aloud what hard-boiled Easter eggs have to do with the story of Jesus rising on Easter.  My oldest daughter’s answer to this question is where our activity for this week was born.  It is more than likely not the real reason for Easter egg hunts, but I loved how my daughter took the story we had been learning about and applied to something at hand in her life.

She explained that we hunt for eggs like the women hunted for Jesus at the tomb.  We unwrap the egg from its shell like the linen wrappings that were left at the tomb.  If you slice a hard-boiled egg in half, the yolk pops out to become the rising sun on the first day of the week, and the white of the egg looks like the empty tomb.  Then, she used the yolk to show the passing of time.  The sun yolk would rise and she would sing a word, and the sun yolk would set, and she would sing the same word:  Hosanna! for Palm Sunday, I love you! for Maundy Thursday, Crucify! for Good Friday, and Alleluia! for Easter Sunday.

Here is what it sounds like:

You could do the same demonstration with your family.  We decorated our hard-boiled eggs with a super-easy speckling technique from Martha Stewart:  http://www.marthastewart.com/1143947/brilliant-trick-decorating-easter-eggs-turns-mess-magic

If you don’t have any hard-boiled eggs leftover, you could use a plastic egg with something yellow inside.  Or even your left hand in the shape of an “O” for the empty tomb, and your right hand in a fist for the rising sun.  No matter which way you do it, it should be both easy and memorable!

Song:  Ho-ho-ho Hosanna
If my daughter’s song is too simple for you, here is another great Easter song along with motions for tons of Easter fun!

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith!  I hope that this time was holy time for you.

Closing Prayer: (Can be a repeat after me prayer if you have non-readers in your family)
Thank you, God, for this holy time together to feed our faith as a family.  Bless us as we remember that you are alive!  Alleluia!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Jesus is Alive! Luke 24:1-12

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 the time when Jesus came back to life.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Activity:  Empty Tomb Biscuits
I found this activity on pinterest, and it was definitely fun to do:

http://pleasegivepeasachance.blogspot.com/2010/04/empty-tombsresurrection-buns.html

emptytombrollscopy

We just might have a new Easter morning tradition!  Both my husband and I rejoiced when we didn’t have an Easter Sunrise service in my current parish.  However, our daughters would have a sunrise service every day of their lives if we let them, and we ended up making these biscuits for breakfast first thing in the morning in our jammies, before the sun had even come up.  Ah, the joys of parenting!

We did it before the Easter Bible story, and did our story, song, and prayer while they baked.  I did one as a demonstration, telling the story of Jesus’ burial as part of each step.  Then, each of my daughters got two turns each to construct a tomb and tell the story to their sisters.  They sure had it down by the time we were down wrapping eight rolls!  The only thing we did differently than the recipe was to flatten the biscuits instead of splitting them, and baking them on a cookie sheet lined with tinfoil (less mess to clean up!).

Here’s a few pics of our final product:

Bible Story:  Luke 24:1-12
This is the story of Easter.  We read ours from Group Publishing’s My First Hands-On Bible.  You can purchase one here:  http://www.christianbook.com/my-first-hands-on-bible/9781414348308/pd/348308

You can do the suggested activities and discuss the questions provided, if you wish.

You can also read it in your own family or story Bible, or check out an Easy to Read Version here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24%3A1-12&version=ERV

Discuss as a family:  What are some special things that you do in church on Easter? Would you have been surprised if you had been at the tomb?  Why or why not?  Why do you think that Easter is a happy day?

Song:  Paschal Blessing/Praise Ye the Lord
One of my favorite parts of the Easter morning service is the Paschal Blessing that announces that Jesus is risen.  My family and I sang it together as part of our family god time, and I made a little video with lyrics here:

 

If your family is not into chanting (and I know that most families probably aren’t J ), you can always review this little song that celebrates the bringing back of the Alleluia at Easter:

 

Thanks for your commitment to faithfully feed your family’s faith!  I hope that this time was holy time for you.

Closing Prayer: (Can be a repeat after me prayer if you have non-readers in your family)
Thank you, God, for this holy time together to feed our faith as a family.  Bless us as we remember that you are alive!  Alleluia!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Journey Around the Cross: Easter Prayer

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Here is a prayer that you and your family can pray during the week following Easter Sunday. You can light your candle each day as you pray, or light your candle on each Sunday in the season of Easter, whatever works better for you and your family.  You can find a take-home sheet with the same prayer here: Easter Day Prayer 2016

Thank you, God, for raising Jesus from the dead!
He is alive,and we live, too.
Alleluia!  Amen.

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Want to learn more about using these in your home or congregation?  Look here:

https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/journey-around-the-cross-a-new-way-to-mark-time-during-lent/

https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/journey-around-the-cross-easter-edition/