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 Breathes the Spirit: John 20:19-31

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 a time when Jesus breathed the Spirit onto his disciples.  Help our time together to be a holy time.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  John 20:19-31
Read the story of Thomas in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+20%3A19-31&version=ERV

We used the Whirl Story Bible for our devotion.  The story was called “Thomas Wonders.”  You can purchase your own copy here:  http://store.augsburgfortress.org/store/product/19372/Whirl-Story-Bible

Discuss as a family:

Why were the disciples afraid at the beginning of the story?

What did Jesus say to them?

What did the disciples receive when Jesus breathed on them?

What do you think about Thomas?  Would you like to see Jesus for yourself?

Song:  Peace Be With You

During the season of Easter, we sing this simple little song as we pass the peace to remind ourselves of this story.  You can do it too!

Activity:  Breathe the Spirit
I thought it would be fun to practice breathing the Spirit onto one another, so we used that thought to play a game.  Each family member got a party horn (pictured below).  We took turns being a disciple or Jesus.  The disciple closed their eyes and the person secretly chosen to be Jesus breathed the Spirit onto the disciple through the party horn.  The disciple then had to guess who had done the breathing.  Then, the person who had been Jesus closed their eyes as a disciple, and someone else took a turn.  It was a simple game, but girls are still playing it a few days later.  Amazing how a simple idea can get your family to reenact our stories of faith!

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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: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for appearing to your disciples, and for giving them peace and the Spirit.  Send your Holy Spirit to us, that we may spread your peace to the world.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Lent in a Dish Week 4: We Are the Light of the World

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This year during Family God Time, we will be using a resource from St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, but with a Family God Time twist.  It is called “Lent in a Bag,” but we will be creating our own “Lent in a Dish” projects.  I thought of the dish because of the beautiful Lenten garden that my daughter created in Sunday School last year, and thought that there could be a way to use both resources to create something meaningful over the course of several weeks.

You can read more about the original “Lent in a Bag” resource here:  http://www.buildfaith.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/in-a-bag-trifold-Cuthbert-4-1.pdf  You can read more about the Lenten dish gardens here:  http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2013/03/mini-resurrection-garden-easter-craft.html

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 we are the light of the world.  Help our time to be a holy time.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Matthew 5:14-16
Read about being the light of the world in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5:14-16&version=NRSV

We used the Spark Story Bible for our resource.  It was the story called “Salt and Light.”  You can purchase your own copy here:  http://www.wearesparkhouse.org/store/product/8122/Spark-Story-Bible-Sunday-School-Edition?c=285812

Discuss as a family:
How can we be the light of the world?
These verses are often used when they light the candle at a baptism.  Why do you think we say these words at that time?

Song:  This Little Light of Mine
This is the perfect song to go with these verses.  You can even make up your own verses to go along with the ideas you came up with during your Bible story discussion.  Enjoy!

Activity:  Light in the Dark
Previously, we gathered all of the supplies we needed for the whole Lenten season Lent in a Dish.  You can find the supply list here:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/preparing-for-lent-2017/

This week, we need a small candle or LED candle, depending on the age of your kids.

This week, we will do experiments with light and dark.  Give each child a candle and light it.  Ask them to find the darkest place in the house in and hide there with their candle.  After you count to ten, call out “We are!” and they respond “The Light of the World” until you have found everyone who was hiding.  You can repeat this as many times as you wish, with a different “seeker” each time.

After you are done shining light in dark places, add it to your dish.  Place the dish in a place where you and your family can see it all week long, to remind you to use your God-given power to help others!  You might want to light your candles during mealtimes this week to keep reminding each other to be light.

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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: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for this time to learn about how we are the light of the world.  Help us to use the light that you give us to shine in the dark places in the world.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Lent in a Dish Week 3: Jesus Washes His Friends’ Feet

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This year during Family God Time, we will be using a resource from St. Cuthbert Episcopal Church in Houston, TX, but with a Family God Time twist.  It is called “Lent in a Bag,” but we will be creating our own “Lent in a Dish” projects.  I thought of the dish because of the beautiful Lenten garden that my daughter created in Sunday School last year, and thought that there could be a way to use both resources to create something meaningful over the course of several weeks.

You can read more about the original “Lent in a Bag” resource here:  http://www.buildfaith.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/in-a-bag-trifold-Cuthbert-4-1.pdf  You can read more about the Lenten dish gardens here:  http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2013/03/mini-resurrection-garden-easter-craft.html

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 would do anything for his friends.  Help our time to be a holy time.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  John 13:1-15
Read Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+13%3A1-15&version=ERV

We used the Spark Story Bible for our resource.  It was the first two pages of the story “The Last Supper.”  You can purchase your own copy here: http://www.wearesparkhouse.org/store/product/8122/Spark-Story-Bible-Sunday-School-Edition?c=285812

Discuss as a family:
Why do you think that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet?
What job would you really not like to do?  Who would you love enough to do it for?
How do you show others that you love them?

Song:  I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
This is my favorite Lent song for kids.  It gets the somber mood, but has a way to get the wiggles out.  We held hands and walked in place while singing.  Enjoy!

Activity:  Pipe Cleaner Person
Perviously, we gathered all of the supplies we needed for the whole Lenten season Lent in a Dish.  You can find the supply list here:  https://familygodtime.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/preparing-for-lent-2017/

This week, we need a pipe cleaner.

Jesus was really a human person, and he really cared for his friends.  He showed just how human he really was when he got down on his knees in front of his friends and washed their feet.  To remind us of this, we are going to make a pipe cleaner person to add to our dishes.  See the instructions, below.

Fold your pipe cleaner in half.

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Wrap the middle around an adult’s thumb to make the head.  Twist a couple of times.

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Make two long twists to form the body.

Bend about an inch out of each end to become the legs, as shown.  Wrap the ends up the body again.

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Form the two ends into the arms.  You have made a pipe cleaner person!

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After you are done making your person, add it to your dish.  Place the dish in a place where you and your family can see it all week long, to remind you to use your God-given power to help others!

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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: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Dear Jesus, we thank you for this time to learn about how Jesus served his friends.  Help us to use the power that you give us to serve others.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Jesus is the Light of the World: John 1:1-5

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 your Son is the light of the world.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  John 1:1-5
Our parish just finished Vacation Bible School, and one of the main emphases this year was the Jesus is the light of the world.  This story is often read on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and reminds us also of the creation story in Genesis, which we learned about last week.  Take some time to read it out loud together (maybe even in repeat-after-me style):

John 1:1-5 (NRSV version)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Discuss as a family:
Who do you think the Word is? What was the Word’s job?  What came into being through him?  What is the light like?

One of my favorite mentors, Rich Melheim, talks about how, when you open a door from a light room into a dark room, the light spills into the darkness, but not the other way around.  For me, this is a helpful image when thinking about what it means that Jesus came into the world as the light of the world.  It changed forever because of him!

Song:  Light of the World
For our song this week, we reviewed the Bible School Song “Light of the World.”  Here is the lyric video, provided to Life Tree Kids by Group on Youtube:

Activity:  Light of the World Necklaces
For this week’s activity, I purchased LED heart necklaces from the Dollar Store.  You could also get glow bracelets, or necklaces, or mini-flashlights.  After we unwrapped them, my girls had a great time spreading Jesus’ light wherever they went for the next couple of days.  Every once in a while, I would ask “Who is the light of the world?” and they would tell me “Jesus!”  It’s a simple way to have this week’s story stick with you!  Here are a couple of pics of the fun we had (they were moving so fast that I couldn’t get all of them in focus at once.  You get the idea, right? J ): (5,6, arms up)

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 Jesus, we thank you for holy time together as a family.  Thank you for being the light of the world.  In your name we pray, Amen.

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.

Feed My Sheep: John 21:15-19

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 gave Peter a new job to do.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  John 21:15-19
Peter was Jesus’ best friend.  They did everything together.  When Peter heard Jesus say that he was going to die, Peter made a promise to him, “I will never leave you Jesus, even if everyone else runs away.”  Unfortunately, when the time came, Peter did not keep his promise.  He ran away.  He even pretended he didn’t know Jesus!  Our Bible story for today tells us about what Jesus did after Peter broke his promise.  He forgave Peter and gave him a new job to do!

Feed My Sheep

Read the story together.  You might have a hard time finding it in a children’s Bible, so you can use a regular Bible, or check out an Easy to Read Version here:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+21%3A15-19&version=ERV

Here’s a great explanation of this story from Busted Halo:

Discuss as a family:
Why do you think Jesus asked “Do you love me?” three times?  How does Peter respond?  What new job does Jesus give Peter?  Is he really supposed to look after some real sheep?  Who are the sheep?  How can we as a family “feed lambs,” “tend sheep,” or “feed sheep”?

Song:  Do You Love Me?
This is a song I wrote to help my family remember this story.  We each took turns being Jesus or Peter or the sheep.  Have fun!

Activity:  Food Shelf Scavenger Hunt
This week, we decided to take our story literally and do what we could to feed hungry kids in our community.  There is a backpack program in our community that has a collection basket at our grocery store.  We brought $20 and chose 5 things from their list of suggestions.  Each of our kids then had to take turns hunting through the store for the things that would help feed hungry kids.  Here is a pic of what our kids chose:

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After we paid for the food, each of our children brought at least two of the items and placed it in the collection basket themselves.  Then, we prayed (see below) before we went on our way.  Our children really enjoyed doing something for others, and I hope you will, too!

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 we have enough food every day, and that you give us enough to share.  Bless this food so that it might help kids who are hungry.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.