Dear God, help us to see you in times when it might feel like you are not
there, especially when we are hurt, and when we do not have what we need. Amen
Bible Story of the Week: Luke 6:20-21
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. ‘Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
Questions of the Week:
What are some things besides money that you could give to someone who is poor or hungry? What are some things you could do for people that do not have all that they need? When are times that you have felt poor or hungry? How did God bless you during those times? Who has been a blessing to you when you have been weeping? What did they do for you?
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep
water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we
have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will
let down the nets.’When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their
nets were beginning to break. So they signalled to their partners in the
other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that
they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’
knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For he and
all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken;and
so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching
people.’ When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything
and followed him.
QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK:
If Jesus came to you at “work” where would you be?
What are you struggling with there that he would tell you to try again? What
are you likely to “catch.” What do you think Jesus means that his disciples
will catch people?
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of
Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus
and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When
the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And
Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has
not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants,
“Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now standing there
were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding
twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to them,
“Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 He
said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they
took it. 9 When the steward tasted the water that
had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who
had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10 and
said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine
after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until
now.” 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in
Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in
him. 12 After
this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his
disciples; and they remained there a few days.
OF THE WEEK:
Have you ever been to a
wedding? What was that experience
like? Have you ever been at a party
where they ran out of food? What was
that experience like? Why do you think
Jesus decided to help when the wine ran out?
Where do you fit into this story?
Now after they had
left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up,
take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell
you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then
Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and
remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been
spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
Dear God, help me to listen to you, no
matter how you choose to speak to me.
Joseph is dreaming again! Have you been paying attention to your dreams
this season? What do they have to tell
Monday: Matthew 2:13b
Dear Jesus, my time is not always your
time. Help me to follow your lead, even
when it interrupts my plans. Amen.
Have you ever had to get up and go without
advance notice? What was that experience
Tuesday: Matthew 2:13c
Dear God, sometimes unexpected things
happen to me. When I am in the middle of
something unexpected, help me to you that you are present with me. Amen.
What do you think it would have been like
to unexpectedly have to move with a two-year-old for Mary and Joseph? What would it be like for you?
Wednesday: Matthew 2:14
Dear God, today I pray for those who are
traveling because of the threat of war or violence. Keep them safe on their journey, and help
them to know that they are always at home in you. Amen.
Have you ever traveled to a foreign
country? What was that experience like
for you? If you could travel somewhere,
where would you go?
Thursday: Matthew 2:15
Dear God, today I pray for those who live
far from home. Sustain them as they
learn new things, and comfort them when they miss what is familiar. Amen.
What would it have been like for Mary and
Joseph to learn a new language, customs, and even cuisine? What would it be like for you to do so?
Friday: Matthew 2:16
Dear Jesus, today I pray for all children
in the world, in our country, and in my community whose lives are threatened by
violence. Help me to see this danger and
act to bring peace. Amen.
King Herod’s actions against the children
in Bethlehem are similar to Pharaoh’s in Moses’ time. Why do you think he chose to do this? Where are there places in this world where
something similar is happening, even today?
Saturday: Matthew 2:17-18
(Pray in your own words for people you know
who are sad, mourning, or in pain today.)
Have you ever been so sad
that you didn’t know if you would ever stop crying? What was that experience like? What do you think it would have been like to
lose a child to violence? How can you
make a difference in the lives of those who are mourning loss?
Our parish has been working on learning the entire story of Jesus’ birth, from A to Z. Since many of the people who we meet in the story aren’t in a standard nativity set, I reworked a set from several years ago. This set can be used as Popsicle Stick puppets, or you can cut out tabs for the bottom of each character so that they can stand on their own, as you see in the picture. I cut popsicle sticks in half and affixed them to the tabs to give them some weight and help them to be more sturdy. Access your copy of the A to Z Nativity here
As you color the characters, listen to some easy-to-follow along Christmas songs from Reawaken Hymns:
When you are ready to tell the whole story, you can use the words below:
Zechariah: Zechariah is an old man who has given up on having children. Then, an angel appears and tells him that he will be the father to John the Baptist. He finds this message hard to believe, so the angel gives him nine months to think about it. He says, “Because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.” (Luke 1:20)
Mary: Mary is a young woman from the middle of nowhere. When the angel tells her that she will be the mother of the Son of God, she responds, first with questions, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34), and then with faith, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:37) This statement of faith and the belief that “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37) changes the entire course of the rest of her life.
Elizabeth: Elizabeth is Zechariah’s wife and Mary’s cousin. It is to Elizabeth’s house that Mary flees once she agrees to be Jesus’ mother, and at that house receives the warmest of welcomes. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” (Luke 1:42) Elizabeth cries. She celebrates the birth of a longed-for child in her baby, John, even as she welcomes the mother of the one who is to come.
Joseph : Joseph is the adopted father of Jesus. He is engaged to marry Mary, but they are not yet living together, when he finds out that she is pregnant. We learn that God chose Jesus’ step-father well when we learn that he is both righteous and merciful, planning to dismiss her quietly. When he dreams of an angel who explains “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 1:20) he believes the angel, takes Mary as his wife, and claims Jesus as his own.
Jesus: Jesus, of course, is the real star of the entire story. His name means “God saves,” which reminds everyone that, although he was born in a barn out in the country instead of in a royal palace, he is truly the King of Kings. God’s love is a constant surprise, and nowhere more so than in the birth of Jesus.
Shepherds: Shepherds are the last people you would expect to receive the first news of the birth of Jesus. They live out in the country, they are poor, and they are on the margins of society. And yet, God chooses the least, the last, and the lowly, to reveal God’s plan of love and forgiveness for all. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors,” sings the whole multitude of the heavenly host. (Luke 2:14). The shepherds believe, go and see for themselves, and just can’t stop telling everyone they meet about the miracle of Christmas.
Simeon: Simeon is a prophet who has waited his entire life to meet Jesus face to face. When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple for the first time, he knows that his life’s work is complete. “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word,” Simeon sings, “for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” (Luke 2:29-31).
Anna: Anna has also waited her entire life to meet Jesus face to face. When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple for the first time, she also knows that her life’s work is complete. Anna shared the good news that the Messiah had come with anyone who would listen, thankful for a long life well lived, a precious hope at last fulfilled.
Magi: The magi remind us that Jesus was not just a miracle for the people of Israel, but for the entire world. They see the sign of the star and follow, past the edge of their known world, to meet Jesus face to face. “They offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,” (Matthew 2:11) because these people from a foreign land knew that he was king, God, and sacrifice. They bring this message to the nations, even as they return home by another road.
Star: Did you know that people were not the only ones waiting for Jesus to be born? A star in the sky waited to appear to earth until the perfect moment, and the magi, who were probably also astrologers, saw the star and followed it all the way to Jerusalem. After meeting King Herod, they continue their search “and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.” (Matthew 2:9)
Animals: Although the animals aren’t technically in the story, having animals as a part of our nativity set reminds us that all of creation was waiting for and excited to welcome Jesus to earth. The animals even gave up their feeding trough so that Jesus would have a cradle in which to sleep! (Luke 2:7)
God bless you and your family during this holy season! –Family God Time
Here is a new section of Family God Time: Daily Devos! In our family, we read the verses for the day while the food is being served for supper, and discuss the questions as we eat. We pray the prayer before we leave the table.
I hope this time will be a holy time for you and your family!
JESUS IS TRANSFIGURED: MARK 9:2-8
PRAYER OF THE WEEK: Dear Jesus, this week we will take God’s advice and listen to you… (quiet time to listen) In your name we pray, Amen.
MARK 9:2-3 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been blinded by the sun? What was that experience like? What do you think it would have been like to be blinded by Jesus? How would you have felt?
MARK 9:4-6 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever gotten the opportunity to speak with someone who you thought was very important? What was that experience like? Who would you speak to, if you could? What would it be like to speak with Jesus?
MARK 9:7-8 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
QUESTIONS: In this section, God tells us who Jesus is related to, and gives us an opportunity to think about this for ourselves. Whose daughter or son are you? Who loves you? Who do you listen to? Hold your answers to these questions closely as we enter together into the season of Lent!
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!
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 truly God’s Son. Help us to learn and grow together. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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, we used the children’s bulletin from Spark, available on Sundays and Seasons. You can 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 God’s Son. Help us to always listen to you. In your name we pray, Amen.
Activity: Bury the Alleluia
One tradition that our churches practice on Transfiguration Sunday is to prepare for Lent (which begins on the Wednesday after Transfiguration Sunday) by burying the Alleluia. We say goodbye to the Alleluia because it is a celebration word that we save until the miracle of Easter. You can learn more about this practice here: https://www.buildfaith.org/saying-goodbye-to-the-alleluia/#gref