Bible Stories, meditations, activities, crafts, games, outreach projects and more to do together. Three weeks at a time are posted.

Advent 1: November 29

This Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent.  Advent is the Liturgical Season, where we prepare our hearts for entering the mystery of Christmas.  It lasts four weeks.  It is, also, the start of the church calendar year.

Advent means coming. We ponder the gift Jesus gave all of us by coming to earth as an infant.  We prepare ourselves for the next coming of Jesus.  In addition, we use Advent to honor all those who waited and waited and waited for God to send the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the Savior, the King.

The liturgical color is purple or blue.  St. Paul’s Church uses blue. 

St. Paul’s Advent Home Kit, has the story this week.  This week we look at Angels Among Us.

Bible Story: Matthew & Luke

Angels appear to both Mary and Joseph to help them prepare for being the parents of Jesus (Luke 1: 26-38):

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”[a] But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[c] will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

And Matthew 1: 18-25:

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.

Meditation:   For centuries, artists have portrayed angels as beautiful humans with wings and glowing light, complete with halos, harps, and flowing white gowns (or perfectly sculpted bodies).  But the angels in the Bible are very different.  Angels were created by God, angels have a hierarchy, and only two angels have their names given in the Bible: Michael and Gabriel.  Angels are very powerful and frightening creatures in the Bible.  They can, also, appear as strangers to people.  Angels act as messengers, protectors, worshippers of God, and help carry out God’s plan.

This year, especially, the waiting for Christmas seems long.  In Advent, we think about all those who waited and waited for the promised Messiah to come into the world.  Advent is for waiting, but it is for hope, too.  Angels have acted throughout the Bible giving hope, giving guidance, and sharing the good news.  Many in the Bible did not even realize they were encountering an angel until time had passed.  I wonder if it is possible that we have met angels and not even been aware.  Has someone given you hope in a time of darkness?  Did someone say just the right thing you needed to hear at the time you needed it?  Maybe, there was a time you did not even realize and something distracted you, when you could have been on a path that would have taken you through danger.  God does not leave us alone.  God’s love is always with us.  God is interacting with us constantly, but do we even realize it?  It is so easy to get so focused on a problem, on our fears, on one earthly thing and not see the wonders around us, especially when we want a certain outcome to happen a certain way and that is not what God has planned.  This Advent, let us open ourselves to God’s love and possibilities. Let us prepare our hearts and minds for Jesus by opening ourselves to the possibility that there is more to our lives and our worlds than what we can see in front of us or what we are feeling at this moment.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help us to see you and your work in our lives.  Help us to see and experience the angels among us through the eyes of possibility.  As we enter this Advent Season, help us prepare our hearts and minds to enter the mystery of Christmas.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Activities (choose one or more to do during the week.  For links, copy and paste):

  1. Discussion questions- What do you picture angels looking like?  We often put halos on angels, but in the Bible, they do not have halos either.  If angels look terrifying, as they do in some stories in the Bible, does that surprise you?  Sometimes, angels look like a normal person.  Do you think you have ever encountered an angel?  People, sometimes, say angels are people that died, but in the Bible, angels are created by God as angels from the beginning. That does not mean that we cannot enjoy the angels of our creation from art work.  What is your favorite angel you bring out a Christmas time?  If an angel appeared and asked you to do something for God, would you?
  2. Musical response- An Angel Appeared to Mary 
  3. Craft response: There are so many items around the house that can be made into angels.  Visit this site to see 21 of them and choose one (or two)  or using paint, paint your child’s hand and put it on paper.  Use the handprint as the dress and add face, wings, and halo.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Find an Angel Tree and purchase a gift for a child.  Talk about everyone deserving a Christmas gift.
  5.  Activity response:  Look through mail fliers, books, magazines and see how many angels you can find.  Read up on the angels in the Bible.
  6.  In-reach response: Make an angel as a gift for someone in your family.
  7.  Game response:  Take an angel and hide it somewhere in the house.  Every day see who finds it.  Make up a story to go along with it. 
  8.  Watching the story: Angel visits Mary (for young children), For older children: Angels in the Bible-

Week of November 22

This Sunday is the last Sunday in the Season After Pentecost.  It is a Sunday called Christ the King.  We use white for the liturgical color because it is a feast day honoring Jesus as the king.

This Sunday’s readings are all about Jesus coming.  Ezekiel talks about God as the shepherd coming to gather his flock.  Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells Jesus coming again as the great king.  In Matthew’s Gospel, we hear about Jesus coming and dividing the sheep from the goats.  Through this story, we learn what is most important to God. 

Bible Story: Matthew 25: 31-46 (from the Message)

“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because— I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’ “Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ “He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’ “Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.”

Meditation:   For over twelve years, I read this part of Matthew’s Gospel at a 30 Hour Famine that I held at every diocese I was in.  Over 100 teenagers and adults would go 30 hours without food (doing a juice fast) and we would spend those 30 hours going to homeless shelters and fixing meals, preparing meals for those staying in a Ronald McDonald House, bringing meals to those living homeless living on the streets and we would collect clothing and diapers and give them out.  We would sort and pass out new clothing to children living in poverty.  We would learn about building wells and collect money for fresh water for communities without.  We would clean areas no one wanted to go.  Visit nursing homes and sing and talk to the residents.  We worked hard, usually completing about 24 projects in those 30 hours.  We learned too.  We had guest speakers from war-torn countries talk about.  We heard ways to care for creation.  We delivered Meals on Wheels. We learned what it is like to go to bed hungry as 2/3rd of the world does.  We helped with medical care and aid.    At the end of the 30 hours, we were exhausted, but we were motivated.  We found that in one weekend, we had the power to touch people’s lives, change the world, and live out loving your neighbor.

For me this story is not about the people who did not, it is about the people who did.  It is about remembering that the best way to love God is through loving our neighbor. 

Pick to either feed, clothe, teach, give, serve, or help others this season.  Do it for our King, Jesus, and do it, because you will feel better than you have felt in a long time.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to see those who need us.  Through helping others, we are serving you. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for the one who gave up the most for us, Jesus.  Amen.

Activities (choose one or more to do during the week.  For links, copy and paste):

  1. Discussion questions- The needs are great, but one person can make a huge difference.  Make a list of ways you can serve others.  There are websites with lists of things children can do. Pick one to do as a family.  Why do you think the sheep and the goats asked Jesus when they saw him hungry, thirsty, cold, in prison and responded?  Have you ever thought of people as God living in them?  Would you treat others differently if you knew it was Jesus?  What would you do?
  2. Musical response- They will know we are Christians by our love .
  3. Craft response: Make something for someone else (either food, clothing item, book, flowers, etc.).  Anything you do is a gift. Or make a crown and decorate it to remind you that Jesus is king.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Pick a project to do as a family.  Most charitable organizations have a page of what you can do to help others on it.  If you are unsure, visit Episcopal Relief and Development, they have some wonderful projects for children of all ages.
  5.  Activity response:  Look around your room and house.  What things do you have that you love and use a lot?  What are some things you wanted badly, but now hardly ever touch?  What have gotten but do not use?  Is there a way you can use any of those to help others?  Clean up and look for things that others could use (toys, books, clothing, etc.)
  6.  In-reach response: Thanksgiving is coming.  What is a way you can serve each person in your family?  Is there a chore they need help on, has a younger sibling wanted time with you?  Each day this week, do something for someone in your family.
  7.  Game response:  Water Dash-play outside.  You will need cups, food color, and a bucket. half fill plastic cups with water, drop food coloring into about half the cups, so a quarter of the cups end up one color and a quarter another. the children then have to fill their teams bucket with just one color. They should have to use at least some of the clear liquid to show how our actions spread. Or using your phone stopwatch, record how long it takes to fill one color and then refill and the other person goes and is timed. Or play Duck-Duck-Goose saying “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” and run on Holy Spirit.
  8.  Watching the story:

Next page is the Parable of the Talents.