Children’s Devotion Time February 2018: Jesus is Transfigured

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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

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.

Large Group Bible Story:  Mark 9:2-9
Read about the Transfiguration in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:   https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+9%3A2-9&version=ERV

We used the Spark Story Bible for our resource.  It was the story called “The Transfiguration.”  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.  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

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Supplies Needed
A small box (we used shiny jewelry boxes)
A print out of the coloring Alleluia or “tracing” Alleluia on cardstock:  Transfiguration Alleluia 18Transfiguration Trace Alleluia 18
Scissors or paper cutter
Tape (we used gold washi tape)
coloring utensils

Instructions

    1. Cut out the individual letters of the Alleluia. Our younger ones will use the “tracing” Alleluia, and the older ones the “coloring” Alleluia.
    2. Tape them together on the back, accordion style.
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    3. Decorate them as you wish.
    4. Once they are decorated, sing a little Alleluia song. Our favorites are “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” and the “Celtic Alleluia.”
    5. Fold your Alleluia up and place it in the box. Tape the box shut, and write “Do not open until Easter” on the tape.IMG_20180209_095854279_HDR
    6. Hide your box in an out of the way place that you will still remember by Easter.
    7. (I am planning to put jingle bracelets in the boxes and re-tape them just before Easter. We will open them in church on Easter morning!)

© 2018 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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Advent 2017: #jesusbirthatoz

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This Advent, our entire parish is diving deeply into the story of Jesus’ birth, including all of the stories around Jesus’ birth from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.  I am in the process of writing a daily devotion for the entire parish, which is gathered weekly into our “The Story of the Birth of Jesus from Beginning to End” flip book.  The resource is written toward my confirmation students, who are in fifth-eighth grade, but each day has elements that can be appreciated by younger children and adults, as well.

In our house, we have decided to make it a daily time at supper.  After our meal prayer and while the food is being served, our second grader reads the Bible verses and the questions for the day and shows us the picture.  As we eat, each of us has the opportunity to answer the questions for the day at our own level (I sometimes have to rephrase them for our four-year-olds).  Before everyone leaves the table, one of the children leads us in the prayer for the day repeat-after-me style (I whisper it into the ears of the ones who can’t yet read).

We are only a few days into the devotion, but I am encouraged by how interested they are in it.  We will be talking about it at church, as well, and given opportunities to decorate it each week as we wish.

If you and your family would like to use this resource, you can find it at https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/category/jesusbirthatoz/

New devotions will be available each week until January 21, so check back often.  I hope that this season is meaningful for you and your family!

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.

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.

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 2: Jesus Feeds 5,000

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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 uses his power.  Help our time to be a holy time.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Mark 6:30-44
Read Jesus’ words about being ready in a children’s Bible, your own Bible, or you can find the story here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+6%3A30-44&version=ERV

We used the Kids Bible App for our resource.  You can download it for free here:
https://www.bible.com/kids

Discuss as a family:
What do you think Jesus felt like when he was in the wilderness without eating for forty days?
What did the devil tempt him to do?
Did Jesus use his power in this way?
How did Jesus use his power in the story we just read?
How can we use our power to help hungry people?

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:  Heart Stones
Last week, 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 the stones and with stickers shaped like hearts or a paint marker or glitter pen to add hearts to the stones.

Jesus used his power to make more food for hungry people because he loves us.  We decided to add hearts to the stones that the devil tempted Jesus about turning into bread to remind us that Jesus uses his power to helps others, not himself.  My kids really got into this, as you can see from the picture:

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After you are done decorating, add the stone 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!

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 uses his power.  Help us to use the power that you give us to show our love for others.  In your name we pray, Amen.