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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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.

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.

Jesus is Alive! Week 3: Luke 24:1-12

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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 the time when Jesus came back to life.  Help our time together to be holy time.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Bible Story:  Luke 24:1-12
Around our house, the holidays of Christmas and Easter last for weeks as our kids tell and retell the story.  If you did not get a chance to do this last week, I suggest Group’s My First Hands-On Bible as a great introduction to the Easter Story.  You can purchase one here:  http://www.christianbook.com/my-first-hands-on-bible/9781414348308/pd/348308

If this is your second week working with the story, you might choose another Bible or even a Bible story book with the Easter story in it.  Ask them how this second version compares to the first (you might have to get out the first version to compare and contrast).

If your kids really have a handle on this story, have them tell it to you, read the story, and compare both versions.  We want them to know the big stories of the faith not only by heart, but also in their hearts, so a little repetition never hurt anyone.

If you don’t have easy access to this story, check out an Easy to Read Version here:
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+24%3A1-12&version=ERV

Activity:  Capsule Surprise
One of the important things to drive home about the Easter story is what a surprise it was to the women and the disciples.  They truly did not expect to come to the tomb to find it empty; they came to prepare for the funeral of their Lord.  One way to show this to your children is to purchase sponge capsules at the dollar store or in the seasonal section of a discount store.  I happened to find ones that were specifically for Easter, but any ones will work.

Get a bowl full of warm water and some sticks or chopsticks.  You might want to do this in the kitchen or the bathroom to contain the water mess, and also consider giving a separate bowl to each child (mine didn’t share a single bowl very well).

Show them the capsule without the packaging.  Ask them what they think it is.  Ask them what they think will happen if we drop it in warm water.  Then tell them, “This capsule reminds me of Jesus when he was dead and in the tomb:  not fun, not useful, just dead.”  Then ask, “But what happened three days later?”  Then drop the capsules in the water and wait to see.  We poked/stirred them with the chopsticks to help them open.  My kids started chanting “One, two three!” to remind them how many days it took for Jesus to rise from the dead.  Here’s what ours looked like:

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When they are open, yell “Surprise!  Jesus is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!”  Squeeze the water out of them, and let your kids keep them to remind them of the surprise of Easter.  You will be surprised how something this simple will stay with them; a couple of weeks after we did this activity, one of my two-year-olds brought her sponge to me and told me “Jesus is alive!”  She keeps track of it very well, and it has become a treasured possession.

Song:  Christ Arose
This song is a perennial Easter favorite around our house.  Enjoy!

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)
Thank you, God, for this holy time together to feed our faith as a family.  Bless us as we remember that you are alive!  Alleluia!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.