Jesus’ Birth A to Z week 9: Flight to Egypt

BIBLE STORY OF THE WEEK: Matthew 2:13-18 NRSV

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.”

COLORING PAGE

https://cwinnipeg.com/egypt-coloring-pages/egypt-coloring-pages-fresh-27-best-coloring-bible-nt-gospels-christmas-through-the-flight/

PRAYERS & QUESTIONS:

Sunday:  Matthew 2:13a

Dear God, help me to listen to you, no matter how you choose to speak to me.  Amen.

Joseph is dreaming again!  Have you been paying attention to your dreams this season?  What do they have to tell you?

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 like?

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?

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Jesus’ Birth A to Z week 8: The Wise Men

BIBLE STORY OF THE WEEK: Matthew 2:1-12 NRSV

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; 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. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

COLORING PAGE:

http://brickcitytech.co/three-wise-men-coloring-pages/three-wise-men-coloring-pages-wise-men-coloring-page-wise-man-foolish-man-coloring-page-wise-men-coloring-page-three-wise-home-improvement-catalog-promo-code/

Daily Devos: the WISE MEN

Sunday:  Matthew 2:1-2

Dear God, guide my journey of faith.  Keep all who are traveling safe, and give me the courage to go where I have never been.  Amen.

What do you think it would have been like to travel all the way across the known world because of a sign in the stars?  Where is a place to which you would like to travel?  What journey is God calling you to take?

Monday:  Matthew 2:3-4

Dear Jesus, give me wisdom and knowledge.  Help me to find trustworthy sources, that I may be guided in your way.  Amen.

When Herod doesn’t know what to do next, he seeks knowledge from the wisest people he knows.  Where do you go to seek wisdom or knowledge?  How do you know which sources to trust?  For whom are you a source of wisdom or knowledge in your life?

Tuesday:  Matthew 2:5-6

(Pray for your town and the people who live there using your own words.)

Bethlehem is a little like the towns that we live in; small places in the middle of nowhere.  What would it be like to know that someone famous came from your town?  What would you like our towns to be famous for?

Wednesday:  Matthew 2:7-8

Dear Jesus, I know that you came to save the lost.  Find me when I am lost, and help me to have the diligence to seek that which needs to be found in my life.  Amen.

When is a time that you can remember searching diligently for something?  Did you find it?  How did you find what you were looking for?  What do you think God is calling you to search for?

Thursday:  Matthew 2:9-10

Dear God, I thank you for the end of long journeys, and the gift of joy.  Fill me with a sense of joy that never runs out, that it may overflow to those I meet.  Amen.

What would it have been like to get to the end of such a long journey?  When is a time when you have been overwhelmed with joy?  How does God bring joy into your life?

Friday:  Matthew 2:11

Dear Jesus, thank you for reminding me of just who you really are.  Help me to be generous, both in giving and receiving.  Amen.

The wise men bring gifts to show that Jesus is king, God, and sacrifice.  What do you think Mary and Joseph thought of these gifts?  What is the best gift you ever gave?  What is the best gift that you ever received?

Saturday:  Matthew 2:12

Dear Jesus, sometimes you ask me to travel on unfamiliar roads.  Give me courage to persevere, and an open mind and heart to follow where you lead.  Amen.

When is a time when you had to take a detour, or travel by an unfamiliar road?  What was it like for you and your travel companions?  What do you suppose it was like for the wise men?

Jesus’ Birth A to Z week 7: Simeon & Anna

BIBLE STORY OF THE WEEK: Luke 2:21-38 NRSV

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

COLORING PAGE:

https://www.deviantart.com/the-z/art/Advent-Coloring-Page-Simeon-269636401

PRAYERS & QUESTIONS:

Sunday:  Luke 2:21

Dear Jesus, I thank you for placing me into a family.  Help me to learn and to grow, both as a child of my family and as a child of God.  Amen.

One of the important parts of circumcision is that it places a child on the family tree.  Who are some important branches of your family tree for you?  Where would Jesus fit on your family tree?

Monday:  Luke 2:22-24

Dear God, I know that I was born at just the right time.  Help me to see the advantages of my place in my family, and to live according to your Word.  Amen. In the Bible, birth order is often very important.  In what order were you and your siblings (if any) born?  What makes your place in your family special?  Annoying?

Tuesday:  Luke 2:25-27

Dear God, send your Holy Spirit upon me.  Reveal your will to me, and guide my life.  Amen.

This reading mentions that the Holy Spirit rested on Simeon, and that Jesus’ arrival was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.  Have you ever experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit?  In what ways do you see God’s guidance in your life?

Wednesday:  Luke 2:28-32

Dear Jesus, you came to be a light to the whole world.  Help me to see your light in dark times.  Empower me to reflect your light in those places that need it most.  Amen.

What difference does light make to a dark room?  What kind of a difference do you suppose the light of Christ is making in our dark world?  How are you being called to let your “little light” shine?

Thursday:  Luke 2:33-35

(Offer a prayer in your own words for your children, future children, or children who are dear to you)

What do you think it was like for Mary and Joseph to meet Simeon?  What would it be like to know that, because of your son, your future will sometimes be difficult?  What prayers would you have for your child?

Friday:  Luke 2:36-37

Dear God, I thank you for the wise saints in my life.  Open my ears, that I might absorb their wisdom.  Open my heart, that I might offer what I can to those of older years.  Amen.

What do you think it would have been like to meet Anna?  How do you think she might be different from other older women that you know?  How would she be the same?

Saturday:  Luke 2:38

Dear Jesus, make me patient when I have to wait for something that is dear to my heart.  Help me to wait with hope.  Cast out my impatience and despair.  Amen.

Anna had been waiting for many years for Jesus to arrive on the scene.  What are you waiting for?  When you wait, is it with patience or impatience, despair or hope?  What does God have to do with us while we wait?

Jesus’ Birth A to Z Week 6: Shepherds & Angels

BIBLE STORY OF THE WEEK: Luke 2:1-20 NRSV

 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

COLORING PAGE

https://www.deviantart.com/art/Advent-Coloring-Page-Shepherds-269636778

PRAYERS & QUESTIONS:

Sunday:  Luke 2:1-4

Dear God, I thank you for the town that I call home.  Bless and keep all of the towns that are close to my heart, and help me to be a good member of the community.  Amen.

Tell a story about your hometown.  What are some advantages to this town?  Disadvantages?  Where do you think God is at work in your hometown?

Monday:  Luke 2:5-7

Dear Jesus, I am thankful that you were born on earth, and that you came to all creation.  Help me to remember your humble birth in the midst of all of the holiday joy.  Amen.

What do you think that it would be like to have a baby in a barn?  What do you think that it means that Jesus was born, not just to humans, but also to the animals?  What do you think that it means that Jesus, the King of Kings, was born in the opposite of a palace?

Tuesday:  Luke 2:8-9

Dear Lord, I thank you that you are not afraid to bring the message of your love all the way to the edges of society.  Help me to be brave in proclaiming your message, even in difficult places.  Amen.

Why do you think that the angel came to visit the shepherds to tell them about the birth of Jesus, before anyone else?  Who in our time do you think that the angel would have come to?

Wednesday:  Luke 2:10-12

Dear Jesus, I thank you for being the good news of great joy of Christmas.  Make my words and deeds reflect your joy, from the inside out.  Amen.

What is the best news that you have ever received?  Who gave you the news?  What was your reaction?  How do you think the shepherds felt?

Thursday:  Luke 2:13-15

(Spend a bit of time being quiet, and listening for God’s voice)

Dear God, when you call me, help me to drop everything and go.  Amen.

Shepherds did not usually make midnight trips to town, especially with their flocks still in the field.  Why do you suppose that they left their responsibilities that night?  What kind of good news would be enough for you to drop everything and go?

Friday:  Luke 2:16-18

Dear Jesus, I thank you for being born as a real human being.  Help me to not keep this miracle to myself, but to share it with those whom you have prepared.  Amen.

Not only were the shepherds the first to hear the good news, they were also the first to spread it!  Tell about a time when you talked to someone else about Jesus.  Who else could you tell today?

Saturday:  Luke 2:19-20

Dear God, thank you for wonderful experiences in my life.  Help me to treasure them, and to meet you there.  Amen.

The shepherds just can’t get enough of Jesus!  What is something wonderful that you want to experience again and again?  How can you invite God into that experience?

A to Z Nativity Set: Christmas 2018

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

Jesus’ Birth A to Z Week 5: Joseph & the Angel

BIBLE STORY OF THE WEEK: Matthew 1:18-25 NRSV

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

COLORING PAGE

http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/the-dream-of-saint-joseph

PRAYERS & QUESTIONS:

Sunday:  Matthew 1:18

Dear Lord, help me to keep the promises that I make, and make me faithful in all my relationships.  Amen.

What are the promises that people make to one another when they get engaged to be married?  What would it be like to think that your significant other was lying to you about something very important?

Monday:  Matthew 1:19

Dear God, help me to know the right thing to do in sticky situations.  Help me to show mercy to others, as you show mercy to me.  Amen.

What do you think that you would have done in Joseph’s situation?  What are some ways that you can do what is right, but also what is merciful?

Tuesday:  Matthew 1:20

Dear Jesus, you are with me when I am awake and when I am asleep.  Grant me peaceful rest, and an open mind to hear your voice.  Amen.

What do you dream about?  Do you listen to your dreams?  Has God ever sent you a message through a dream?  What was that experience like?

Wednesday:  Matthew 1:21

(Take a few moments to think about the ways in which you have sinned and want forgiveness)

Dear Jesus, I ask you to forgive me completely, and to save me from my sins.  Amen.

The name Jesus means “God saves.”  Why do you think that this is an important name for the Son of God to have?  How does Jesus save us from our sins?

Thursday:  Matthew 1:22-23

Dear God, I thank you that you are present in my life, in the good times, in the bad times, and everywhere in between.  Help me to know that this is really true in my life.  Amen.

What does it mean that “God is with us” in the person of Jesus?  At what times and in what places do you know that God is present in your life?

Friday:  Matthew 1:24

Dear God, I thank you for Joseph and Mary, and the commitment that they made to one another in uncertain times.  Help me to reach out in love towards others.  Amen.

Tell your favorite story of a wedding. What do you think that it means that Joseph and Mary are making a lifetime commitment at this point in the story?

Saturday:  Matthew 1:25

Dear Jesus, I thank you for claiming me as your own in the waters of baptism.  Help me to walk as a child of your light, now and always.  Amen.

In Bible times, when a father named a child, he was claiming it as his own.  What do you think of Joseph for claiming Jesus as his son on earth?  Who do you claim as your own?  Who claims you?

Jesus’ Birth A to Z Week 4: the Birth of John

BIBLE STORY OF THE WEEK:  Luke 1:39-45, 57-66 NRSV

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 Buthis mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote,“His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.

COLORING PAGE:

http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/zechariah-elizabeth-and-baby-john-the-baptist

PRAYERS & QUESTIONS:

Sunday:  Luke 1:39-40

Dear God, please bless me when I travel.  Bless all those who are on theroad, or rail, or in the air today, that they may arrive at their destinations safely.  Amen.

Tell a story about a time when you went on a trip.  How did you travel?  What was the journey like?  Who did you visit and why?

Monday:  Luke 1:41-42

Dear God, watch over all of those who arepregnant today.  Keep them and their children safe, and make it a joyful time of wonder.  Amen.

Have you ever gotten to feel a baby move in someone’s stomach?  What did it feel like?  What do you think it means that John recognized Mary, even in the womb?

Tuesday:  Luke 1:43-45

Dear God, as I prepare to be a guest and a host this season, help me to remember to take the time to prepare for your coming.  Take the “bah!” out of my “humbug.”  Amen.

When is a time when you were received as a guest?  What made it comfortable to be a guest?  Uncomfortable?  In what ways can you work on being hospitable like Elizabeth?

Wednesday:  Luke 1:57-58

Dear Jesus, have care for all who are giving birth today.  Help me to rejoice at the gifts of life that you constantly give through your great mercy.  Amen.

What do you think it would have been like to have been present at the birth of John? Do you know the story of your birth? What are your favorite stories about children being born?

Thursday:  Luke 1:59-61

Dear God, I thank you for my name.  Help me to remember that names are powerful, and to use them kindly with those I meet. Amen.

What is the significance of your name?  Find out what it means, or why you were named what you were named.  Why do you think it makes a difference that God chose John’s name?

Friday:  Luke 1:62-64

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.  Help me to always use my speech in a meaningful and holy way. Amen.

What do you think it would be like to finally be able to speak after a long time of silence?  Why do you think the first words out of Zechariah’s mouth were praise of God? How do you use your speech to praise God?

Saturday:  Luke 1:65-66

Dear God, I ask for your blessing on my life today.  Empower me to be a blessing to those you place in my path today. Amen.

What do you think it means that the hand of the Lord was with baby John?  Do you think that the “hand of the Lord” has ever been with you? Could this phrase be tied to the presence of God’s blessing?