Jesus Goes to Heaven: Acts 1:1-11

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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 when Jesus went to heaven.  Help our time together to be a holy time.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Acts 1:1-11
Read the story of Jesus’ Ascension in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+1%3A1-11&version=ERV

We used the Kid’s Bible App for our devotion.  The story was called “Into the Clouds.”  The Kid’s Bible App is a free app that you can find here:  https://www.pinterest.com/breensipes/online-faith-resources/

Discuss as a family:

  1. Who did Jesus promise would come to them?
  2. When will Jesus come back?
  3. Where did Jesus go?
  4. Where were the disciples supposed to go after Jesus left?

You might also take this story as an opportunity to begin teaching your children the Apostles’ Creed.  It tells the important parts about Jesus’ life that help us to know that he really is the Son of God!  This is how we say the part about Jesus in our church:

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Song:  Lord, I Lift Your Name on High
This is my favorite song for Ascension Day, because it reminds us of all of the important events in Jesus’ story.

Activity:  Ascension Day Celebration
In our family, we love making things go UP for Ascension Day.  In the past, we have done rockets (the air pressure or Dollar Store hand pressure kind), helium balloons (make sure they don’t have strings that will get tangled up with wildlife, and released butterflies (Earth’s Birthday Project is a great source, though it takes some planning:  http://www.earthsbirthdaystore.org/d/7/butterflies.htm)

This year, my girls saw me preparing a coloring sheet for Sunday worship, and asked if they could do that for a project.  I figure that if they are enthusiastic about something having to do with God, that is the right thing to do.  We couldn’t resist giving it some kid of upward motion, though, so here we go!

  1. First, print out the coloring sheet on card stock: Ascension Window Coloring

(I found the original at http://www.familyholiday.net/ascension-of-jesus-christ-coloring-pages/, but colored in the “leading” sections so it would be easier for my kids to color.  I also added the back page.)

  1. Next, color both the front and the back coloring sheets. Cut them out.

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  1. Cut a 2 yard length of string or ribbon. Put a knot in one end.
  2. Use a glue stick to make the back of one of the coloring sheets completely tacky. Line up the ribbon or string along the center with the knot at the bottom.  Press down.

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  1. Add the other coloring sheet, face up. For extra strength, I recommend one staple at the top and bottom of the ribbon, to prevent it from shifting.

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  1. String the ribbon over a curtain rod in your home. Let your children help Jesus to ascend to heaven, saying “Jesus went back to heaven!”  Then, have him descend and say, “Someday, he will come back again!”

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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 are happy that you ascended into heaven, and that some day you will come back to take us with you.  Help us to celebrate you every day.  In your name we pray, Amen.

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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 Holy Week: Jesus Died and Rose Again

I’m not going to lie; the seed sprouting thing did not work out for my family.  We didn’t have any potting soil in the garage, the soil in our garden is full of clay, and my very thorough helpers saturated the soil in our cups so much that I don’t think it will ever dry out, even in our dry climate.  This is what I get for publishing a post before trying it out for myself.  Luckily…

Did you know that my six-year-old is brilliant?  She came up with the following idea for Holy Week, and we can’t wait to do it (yes, I tried it first this time 😊).  May this week be a Holy Week for you!
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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 the day that Jesus died.  Help our time to be a holy time.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Matthew 27:27-66

Read about being the day that Jesus died in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+27%3A27-61&version=ERV

We used the Spark Story Bible for our resource.  It was the story called “The Day Jesus Died.”  You can purchase your own copy here:

http://www.wearesparkhouse.org/store/product/8122/Spark-Story-Bible-Sunday-School-Edition?c=285812

We will revisit the burial of Jesus in our activity today, so there is no need for an extended discussion unless your children have questions.

Song:  Were You There

This is the perfect song to go with these verses.

Activity:  Burying Jesus

For this activity, you will need an empty toilet paper roll, your rock, human figure, and candle.

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After Jesus was crucified and died, his friends buried him in a cave called a tomb.  Today, because we are also Jesus’ friends, we will remember this day by doing the same.

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Place your empty toilet paper roll in the center of your dish.  Use the candle to seal one end of the tube.  If you have enough sand, you could bury the tube with the empty end sticking out.  You could sing “Were you there when the sun refused to shine?” if you want to.

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Place the human figure in the “tomb.”  You could sing “Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?” if you want to.

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Seal the tomb with the stone covered in hearts.  This reminds us that Jesus died because he loved us.  You could sing “Were you there when they sealed the tomb up tight?” if you want to.

**Depending on the age of your children, you could stop here and wait until Easter for the rest of the story.  I plan to set up the next part of the activity on the night before Easter so that Jesus has risen when they wake up on Easter morning.  We will celebrate with “Empty Tomb Rolls,” which you can find here:  http://pleasegivepeasachance.blogspot.com/2010/04/empty-tombsresurrection-buns.html

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If you plan to continue right on to the next part of the activity, remind your children that Jesus stayed in the tomb for three whole days.  Count to three together.  Then, use a scissor to cut the toilet paper tube right up the center.  This reminds us that when Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two and God made his home with his people, wherever they might be in the world.  After you have done this, crack the tube in half and set it up, as shown.  Jesus is alive!  Alleluia!  If you want to celebrate, you could sing this song:

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 the day that Jesus died (and rose).  We thank you for loving us enough to die (and rise) for us.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Lent in a Dish Week 5: The Day Jesus Died

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**Plan to do this family devotion the weekend before Easter (Palm Sunday weekend).  This will give the grass seed enough time to sprout, but not to look too scraggly.

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 the day that Jesus died. Help our time to be a holy time. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Matthew 27:27-61
Read about being the day that Jesus died in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+27%3A27-61&version=ERV

We used the Spark Story Bible for our resource.  It was the story called “The Day Jesus Died.”  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:
This is a long reading because most of each of our Gospel books in the Bible take up most of their time telling this story.  You may want to break up the story by singing some alternate verses of “Were You There.”  Here’s the way I plan to do it with my own kids:
The Soldiers Mock Jesus:  Were you there when he wore a crown of thorns? (place pretend crown on head)

Jesus Carries his Cross:  Were you there when he carried his own cross? (hold pretend cross over shoulder)

Jesus is Crucified:  Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?  (pretend to hammer a nail)

Jesus and the Criminals:  Were you there when he promised paradise? (arms toward heaven)

Darkness:  Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (hands over eyes)

Jesus Dies:  Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (arms out in shape of a cross)

Jesus is Buried:  Were you there when they laid him in the tomb? (gesture as if laying someone down)

Your family might have a lot of questions when you talk about this story.  Try to encourage the questions, even if they are uncomfortable.  Wonder together at the answers; you don’t have to necessarily know them.  Seek out your pastor or minister if you need more help.

Song:  Were You There
This is the perfect song to go with these verses.

Activity:  Burying Seed
**My family and I have not yet done this activity because we want to do it Palm Sunday weekend, also.  We will show you our results Easter weekend!

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 potting soil, fast germinating seed, and a small empty dish (we are using Greek yogurt containers).  If you don’t want to use the sand again, you can forget the dish and spread soil over the sand.

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Let your family examine the seed.  What does it look like?  Alive?  Dead?  What kind of a plant do you think it will become?  Put your potting soil into the small dish.  Make sure it is reasonably damp, though not soaking wet.  Using your finger or the eraser end of a pencil, make some little holes in which to bury the seed.  Tell your family that the seed reminds us of Jesus on the day that he died.  Sing “Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?” as you bury your seed in the holes and cover them up.

After you are done burying your seed, add the bowl to your dish.  Place the dish in a place where you and your family can see it all week long, to remind you about the day that Jesus died!  Keep the soil moist, and move your whole dish to a sunny spot when you begin to see the first green shoots.  We will use the new plants to help to tell the story of Easter next week!

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 the day that Jesus died.  We thank you for loving us enough to die for us.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Salt and Light: Matthew 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 we are salt and light.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Matthew 5:13-16
Read the story of the Sermon on the Mount in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+5%3A13-16&version=ERV

Discuss as a family:
What is your favorite salty thing?
What is your favorite source of light?
How do you think we are salt of the earth (hint:salt is used for seasoning, preservation, and healing)?
How do you think we are the light of the world?

Song:  This Little Light of Mine
This song is probably quite familiar to you.  Did you know the words came right from the mouth of Jesus?  Let your lights shine as you sing this song together!

Activity:  Salt Dough
I thought it would be fun to make something out of salt cough to remind us that we are the salt of the earth.  The basic salt sough recipe is 2 parts table salt and 2 parts flour to 1 part warm water.  I found that my dough was a bit sticky, so I added more flour until the dough was soft and easy to handle.

My idea was to take the “salt” dough and make a heart-shaped tea “light” holder, like this: http://lifeasmom.com/diy-on-a-dime-salt-dough-candle-holders/

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However, my kids had other, wonderful ideas.  They played with the dough for almost an hour, and then had me wrap it up tight in plastic wrap so they could use it again.  They have asked for it at least three other times this week, and it is a great distraction to play with at their little table in the kitchen while I have been making supper.  A devotion and a lifesaver, all in one!  No pictures this time, as they smashed their creations as fast as they made them.  I guess that’s the magic of the dough!

My kids and I have skin allergies, so I didn’t add color or scent to our dough.  You could most certainly do that, if you are so inclined.

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 making us salt and light in this world.  Help us to remember that you are the one who makes us truly shine.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Follow the Star 2016: Pipe Cleaner Star

I told you that we were going to go star crazy this Advent, so here is another star to work on.  Our children and youth will be making them during Sunday School this month, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!  Find the step-by-step instructions, below.

A big thanks to this site for the idea:

http://craftingforholidays.com/tinsel-pipecleaner-bead-and-bell-star-ornaments-lovely-christmas-craft-for-kids/

There were no instructions, just a picture, so this is how I put them together:

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bend end of pipecleaner 1/2 inch

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add 40 multi-colored pony beads

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twist ends together, leaving 1 1/2 inches without beads

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make a star template with brad nails on a block of wood

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bend the pipe cleaner around the nails, with four beads per edge

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string 1 jingle bell and 2 pony beads onto a 12 inch piece of thin ribbon

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tie the ribbon to the top of the star and add a knot to the ends for a hanger.

 

 

Faith Interviews Week 1: Parents

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This month, we heard about Lois and Eunice in church.  Lois and Eunice were Timothy’s grandmother and mother, and Paul says that Timothy learned his foundation of faith from them.  When have you taken the time to tell your kids about important faith memories to you?  Consider this your opportunity.  You can find the discussion guide for this here (it includes discussion starters and helps if you get stuck):  faith-interview

This first week, you might want to try it out with just parents and kids over a meal or during a quiet time in your family’s schedule.  Invite one set of grandparents over for breakfast, lunch, supper, or bedtime next week and don’t worry about it today.

Gathering Prayer: (Do this prayer repeat-after-me style)
Our gathering prayer was our lunch prayer:
God is great.  God is good, and we thank him for our food.  Amen!

Faith Interviews:
We took this one question at a time, and let each person around the table answer, no matter what their age or stage.  Here are the questions:

  • What is your favorite Bible story or verse? Why?
  • What is your favorite memory of church or church activities? Why?
  • What is your favorite prayer or way to pray? Why?
  • What is your favorite church, Sunday School, camp, or VBS song? Why?

I have to admit that I knew how my kids would answer most of these questions, but they loved getting the chance to “teach” everyone else about themselves.  An unexpected benefit was that I got to hear my husband’s answers, not all of which were known to me.  You might want to record everyone’s answers in a short video or audio file so that your kids can hear them again and again.  During the week, challenge your family to look up the Bible stories, prayers, and songs that you mentioned.  You will see the favorites of my family in upcoming Family God Time posts.

Thanks for taking the time to feed your family’s faith this week!  I hope this time was a holy time for you.

Closing 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 more about each other.  Keep us faithful, now and always.  In your name we pray, Amen.