Reformation Day Celebration!

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Luther’s Rose

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 Reformation.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Verse:  Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.

Our family comes from the Lutheran tradition, and celebrating Reformation Day is kind of a big deal.  This year is the 499th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, so it is even a bigger deal.  On October 31, 1517, a Roman Catholic monk and professor named Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper with 95 things that he thought was wrong with the church on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenburg, Germany.  He meant to start a discussion about how to reform the church.  What he started was a religious revolution.  One of the results of this revolution was the formation of other Christian denominations, called Protestants for their protesting against the Roman Catholic Church, of which the Lutheran church is one.

These days, our call is not to be against Catholics, but rather to always be reforming.  As Lutherans, we look closely at everything that we believe, say, and do, and try to make sure that it both fits the time in which we live and is in accordance with God’s will.  This is not always easy, but it is holy work.

What is your favorite part of church?  Your faith?  What about your church or your faith needs some work?  How does knowing that God alone is the source of our strength help you to do the important work of reform?

Song:  Amazing Grace (jazzy version)
One of the most important things that Martin Luther taught was that God along gives us grace; it is not something that we could ever earn on our own.  What better song to sing to celebrate this than a kicked up version of “Amazing Grace”?

 

Activity:  Luther’s Rose

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Martin Luther was especially interested in helping children and families to understand our Christian faith.  He translated the Bible into German so that regular people could understand it.  He wrote the Small Catechism so that parents could teach it to their children in a simple way.  He also drew a picture which included everything you needed to know about the promises of God.  It is called Luther’s Rose.  Here is what it means:

Black Cross:  We are saved from sin because Jesus died on the cross.

Red Heart:  We live because Jesus shed His blood for us. Our faith in Him has saved us.

White Rose:  Our faith give us joy, comfort, and peace. White is to remind us this is peace like the angels enjoy.

Blue Background:  Reminds us that we will meet Jesus in heaven.

Gold Circle:  Gold is precious; it reminds us of heaven’s endless joys. A circle is an endless shape.

(Thanks to Zion Lutheran Church online for this explanation!  See link below.)

Today, we will assemble our own Luther’s Rose to hang on the refrigerator, in our rooms, or even to wear as a button!

First, print out the cutting guide, which you can find here:

luthers-rose-cutting-guide

Then, you have two choices.  Either you can cut each piece out of colored paper in the colors indicated, or you can color a white piece and then cut them out.

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Assemble them in a stack like this:

  • Yellow circle down first.
  • Blue circle on yellow circle.
  • White rose on blue circle
  • Red heart centered on white rose.

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  • Punch a small hole in the center of the heart and slip a brad through.  Fasten as tightly as you can.

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  • Add a glue dot to the top of the brad.  Stick the black cross to the top of the brad.

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  • If you want to make this into a button to wear, add a safety pin between the white and blue layers and through the blue and yellow layers.
  • If you want to hang it on the refrigerator, attach a small magnet to the back.
  • If you want to hang it on a bulletin board, no further action is needed!

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 that you called Martin Luther to reform the church.  Help us to do our best to always follow you.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bonus Resource:  I developed a children’s bulletin for use with my parish on Reformation Sunday.  If you might find it useful, please access it here:

reformation-sunday-childrens-bulletin-2016

I am thankful for tons of great online resources about the Reformation which contributed to the writing of this Family God Time.  Check them out below:

Sojourn Kids Reformation Partyhttp://www.sojournkids.com/blog/2010/10/reformation-day-party-plan

Simplified Explanation of Luther’s Rosehttp://zion-lutheran-online.com/christian-education/sunday-school/62-luthers-seal

Full Explanation of Luther’s Rosehttp://www.goodshepherd.nb.ca/seal/

Majestic God: Psalm 8:1

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 majestic the Lord truly is.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Verse:  Psalm 8:1
Our house is preparing for Bible School by listening to the songs over and over…and over!  This year, our parish is using Group Publishing’s Cave Quest VBS.  One of my kids’ favorite songs from this disk is “Majestic.”  The words to this song sounded like a psalm to me, and when I looked it up, indeed it was!  Time to make a Family God Time devotion from it!

The first verse of Psalm 8 is this:
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is
your name in all the earth.

Most of the words in this verse are probably familiar to your kids, with the exception of “majestic.”  Ask them if they have ever heard the phrase “Your Majesty” referring to a king or a queen (if they have ever watched Peppa Pig, they will have!).  An easy definition of “majestic” is “king or queen-like.  Therefore, what we are saying in this verse is that God’s name is king-like over all of the earth, or God reigns as king over all the earth.

We made up some motions to go with this verse:
O Lord, our Lord (sign-language “L” from left shoulder to right waist)
How majestic is (pretend to put a crown on your head)
Your name in all the earth. (palms up, hands move down toward the earth)

Discuss as a family:
What does it mean that God reigns over all the earth?

Song:  Majestic
This song is from Group Cave Quest VBS.  You can find it on their CD.  You can also hear a preview of the song here:

https://www.group.com/category/ministry-resources/childrens-ministry/vbs/cave-quest.do#div-Music

If you do not have access to this song, I suggest “Beautiful Savior” as an alternative:

 

Activity:  Majestic Crowns
I found this simple idea on Pinterest:
Paper Plate Crowns

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Lately, my oldest wants to add jewels to everything, so our crowns included jewels at the points.  My middle child is still wearing hers several days after the fact!

Here are a couple of pics of the completed project (pre-jewel treatment):

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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 your name is majestic in all the earth.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

The Lord’s My Shepherd: Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd

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 remember that God is in charge.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Psalm 23
This psalm is one of those “back pocket” psalms that everyone should know by heart.  Here is a great way to do this together:

It might take a few times to get it right, but the effort will be worth it.  You will remember that the Lord, your shepherd, is with you, in good times and in bad!

Discuss as a family: (Read these questions out loud, and then read the psalm again.  Then, take time to respond!)
What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this psalm?
What delights me in this psalm or is my favorite part of the story?
What stories or memories does this psalm stir in me? What do I know about sheep or being a shepherd, for example?
What is God up to in this psalm? What is God wanting us to know or to learn from this psalm?

Song:  I Just Wanna Be A Sheep
This is a fun song for the whole family that reminds us that we are part of God’s flock.  Enjoy!

Activity:  Shepherd Sardines
This activity is a twist on the hide and seek game called “Sardines.”  It follows the “Good Shepherd” verse from John 10: 27 “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”

To play, one person gets to be the shepherd, and everyone else are sheep.  He or she finds a place to hide while the rest of the “sheep” close their eyes and baa.  When the shepherd is ready, he or she calls for the sheep.  Any way to call is fine, though I am partial to “Here, sheepy, sheepy, sheepy!”  The sheep then follow the call of their shepherd’s voice until they find him or her.  Then, they get into the hiding place with the shepherd.  This continues until the whole flock is gathered together in the hiding place.  Take turns being shepherds and sheep until everyone has had a chance to be the shepherd.  We are called to listen for the voice of Jesus in the same way.

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 are our shepherd and we are your sheep, in the good times, the bad times, and the in between times.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Chewing on the Law: Psalm 1

A few weeks ago, I did a children’s sermon in my parish about Psalm 1.  We were talking about chewing on the law of the Lord.  A couple of days ago, my oldest daughter reminded me about this children’s sermon and asked if we could learn more about it.  Enjoy feeding your family’s faith this week through an exploration of Psalm 1!

Supplies:  God Time pillows, candle and holder (see “Gathering,” below), My First Hands-On Bible or a family Bible with this story, access to the internet, a piece of something chewy for each person in your family, a pool (or bathtub) filled with water, clothes to get wet in, straw or confetti, sidewalk chalk (optional).

Gather:  We like to sit in a circle on the floor for God Time.  Finding some pillows or cushions to sit on makes it even more comfortable.  My kids like to use pillow pets for this purpose!  Once you are in a circle, light a candle (or turn on a battery-operated one; we use an LED tea light in a pretty metal container).

Story:  Read Psalm 1 in your Bible, or you can check out this version: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=psalm+1&version=ERV

Discuss:  The teacher who taught me about the Psalms, Dr. Diane Jacobsen, translated the first verse of the Psalm this way:

Blessed are the ones who chew on the law of the Lord!

She explained that the law of the Lord works on us our whole life long.  It is not something that we can treat like a checklist and be finished with, but something that follows us around, like when you get a popcorn hull or a piece of meat stuck in your teeth.  You return to it again and again, and it just never seems to want to leave you.  Describe a time when you have felt like this.  How did it feel?

When we chew on the law of the Lord, the psalm says that we become like trees planted by water, which means that we can grow big and strong for a long time and have everything that we need to do so.  Describe a time when you have felt like this.  How did it feel?

The psalm also tells us that the wicked are like chaff (the light, leftover stuff from straw) that just blows away.  It is the opposite of having good, strong roots that can weather any storm.  Have you ever felt uprooted?  What did this feel like?

Song:   Psalm 1 Song

I wrote a little song with collaboration from a great Lutheran folk artist named Nate Houge.  You can learn it here:

Activity:  For our activity this week, we did two things.  First, we acted out the psalm.  We filled the pool, found sticks, and got our chewy treats ready.  I also asked my husband to get out some clean straw from the barn.  This is how it went:

First, we chewed on our chewy treat and said,

First, we chewed on our chewy treat and said, “Blessed are the ones who chew on the law of the Lord.”

Next, we stood in the pool holding our sticks up like tree branches and said,

Next, we stood in the pool holding our sticks up like tree branches and said, “They shall be like streams planted by water.”

Finally, we threw straw in the air and said,

Finally, we threw straw in the air and said, “The wicked are not so. They are like chaff that the wind blows away.”

The second activity was to draw the psalm with sidewalk chalk on our driveway.  In truth, I did this and took the following picture; my kids were having too much fun acting out the psalm over and over to want to mess with the chalk.

Psalm 1 Chalk Drawing

I think that either or both activities will work, depending on the ages and abilities of your family members.

Prayer:  (You can do this all together, or as a “repeat after me” prayer, depending on reading ability) Dear Jesus, we thank you that you that you give us the law to chew on, and that you plant us like trees by water.  Help us to always stay rooted in you.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.