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

Week of October 25

We enter into the Twenty-first Sunday in the Season After Pentecost. 

This week we hear what Jesus says is what everything is about.  It is how we decide our actions, our ethics, and our character.

Bible Story: Matthew 22: 34-46

When the Pharisees heard how Jesus had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance with his own test question: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said, “David’s son.”

Jesus replied, “Well, if the Christ is David’s son, how do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his ‘Master’?

God said to my Master, “Sit here at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

“Now if David calls him ‘Master,’ how can he at the same time be his son?”

That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good.

Meditation:   Jesus is not saying anything new.  Moses in the old Testament said the same thing.  The problem is that the people just cannot seem to get it.  Thousands of years based between Moses and Jesus and generation upon generation and still people were not getting it.  So are we getting it?

What does it mean to love God with all our heart? Obviously, it means loving God above everything and everyone else.  When someone first falls in love, their thoughts are focused despite attempts not to on that person.  They get butterflies in their stomach as they approach the time to see that person.  Their day feels incomplete if they do not check in or see that person.  Do we love God like that?

What does it mean to love God with all our soul? Do we even pay attention to the Holy Spirit within us?  Or are we so busy and so focused on our “To Do List” that we have let that part of us dim?

What does it mean to love God with all our mind?  Where does our mind wonder?  Where do our thoughts drift to?  How often does God cross our mind?  With all our mind implies thinking of God becomes our touch-stone. 

Wait!  There is more.  Loving our neighbor as ourselves is the second half.  So if we do not do the first half, do we try for the second half.  If we love our neighbor, can we ignore the first half and check it off our list.  If we do the “Love God” part right, can we just tolerate our neighbor?

When you are having a bad day, how do you want the people who encounter you to react to you?  Do the same to others.  When you are feeling sad and left out, how do you want the people who are around you to act?  Do the same to others.  When you are hungry, in a bad situation, need help, what do you want from your family or others?  Do the same.

Luckily, we do not have to always get it right, but do we try?  God loves us more than we could ever love him.  That is why he did not give up on people and keeps on not giving up on people. 

What if we spent a week trying to focus on where we fall short?  What would we learn about ourselves and others?  What would we learn about our relationships?  What would we learn about our relationship with God?

Prayer:  Almighty Father, you sent your Son to teach us what love looks like.  Help us to love you and others.  Forgive us when we fall short and give us the strength to get it right.  With the help of the Holy Spirit and through Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- Looking over the list of loving God, where are you strongest?  Give an example.  Where are you the weakest?  What would you like to try differently?  Who is hard to love?  Why?  When in the last few weeks did you find yourself not being a good “neighbor”?  What is something you can do to help remind you and help you refocus on loving God?  What is something you can do to love others this week?
  2. Musical response-  Love the Lord with motions and lyrics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdMIxCdlY-c
  3. Craft response: Love Placemats- Give child a piece of 8 1/2 x 11″ piece of construction paper. Fold the paper in half crosswise. Make 1 inch slits on the folded side about 3 – 4 inches into the folded paper. Open the paper up and weave Fall colored strips of paper in and out of those slits. The children can write “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind” around the border of the placemat, as desired.  You can use clear contact or shelving paper to make it water-proof.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Loving God means loving others.  We can do both at church!  Each person picks a “job” to do for the week.  When done, put earned money in an envelope and give to your church.
  5.  Activity response: PINE CONE FEEDER: Tell children that our story today is about God’s rules. Tell children that they can make something special IF they follow each rule and listen carefully. Rule 1 – Pick out a pine cone and sit at the table with a paper towel under your pine cone. Rule 2 – Spread peanut butter on your pine cone. Rule 3 – Roll your pine cone in bird seed and lay on your paper towel. Rule 4 – Hang a piece of yarn on the cone to hang from a tree. Rule 5 – Wash your hands.
  6.  In-reach response: Decorate heart shaped cookies or make cookies or cupcake and decorate with hearts.  Make a heart shaped card and give the item to someone in your family as a gift of love. 
  7.  Game response:  Play Simon Says, but do it in slow motion for 3 minutes, as fast as you can for 3 minutes, and normal speed for 3 minutes.  God wants us to follow his rules/commandments.  What are some ways we can love God with heart?  With our mind?  With our Soul?  Try to do those for a game of Simon Says.
  8.  Watching the storyhttps://youtu.be/8xb7qIjEwaE

Week of October 18

On the Twentieth Sunday in the Season After Pentecost (Liturgical color is green.)

Paul was converted to Christianity after Jesus’ death after an encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, where he was going to arrest Christians.  His life changed, he dedicated himself to telling all about Jesus.  One of the many places he traveled was Thessalonica.  He traveled with companions and fellow evangelists, Silas and Timothy.  They preached in the synagogue, but Paul’s greatest conversions were with the “gentile” population.  Gentiles were not Jewish.  They worshiped other gods, idols, or were not religious at all.  Paul’s passionate teaching, led to many Christians.

Bible Story: 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-10

I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God’s amazing grace be with you! God’s robust peace!

Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night, you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.

Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.

Meditation:  Paul is writing to tell the early Christians in Thessalonica how proud he is to know that their lives reflect their faith.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy not only used words to describe their faith, but lived it and now they can see that reflected in the people.  Because they are a people whose words match their actions and choices, word has spread throughout other cities and many have come to have that faith.

Words are very important.  They can be used to build up or tear down.  They can be used to teach.  Sometimes words are not enough.  Saying, “I love you”, but acting coldly or uncaring, gives little meaning to the words.  Saying, “I am Christian” is the same.  Faith is more than saying what you believe, it is a life style.  It involves actions, choices, and sometimes not having fun.  It involves letting go of somethings that look fun or may feel good at the moment, for something that is a way of peace, love, and sacrifice. 

We promised and even made vows to God and the church upon our baptism.  Those promises help us to live the Christian life.  Our baptism gave us the words, now, like Thessalonians, the things we do and choose need to reflect those promises.  Others will then recognize we are Christian, not because of the cross we wear or the Bible saying on our cars, but because of the kindness we do, the peace inside us, and the way we see everyone around us as a member of a bigger family that we belong to.  For more information on our Baptismal Covenant, visit https://episcopalchurch.org/baptismal-covenant Or page 304 of the Book of Common Prayer.

Prayer: Grant us, O Lord, the power to keep our promises, to love others in the power of the Spirit, to treat all with dignity and respect, to learn and grow in our faith, and to follow Jesus.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- What is the hardest part about being a Christian?  Have you ever looked to see what you promised at your baptism?  See https://episcopalchurch.org/baptismal-covenant . Do you do these things?  What could you do to the promises?  What is one thing you could do this week to show you are Christian (without saying you are Christian)?  Is there anyone whose life is an example for you of living as a Christian?  What do they do?
  2. Musical response-  They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6k_mwNqFdQ  (with lyrics), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klXNfv5ooHo 
  3. Craft response: Cut out hearts and write a way using a word to love others on each heart or trace your hand print, cut it out, and write an action you can do as a Christian.   Glue them in circle making a wreath or on a piece of paper.  Add a small ribbon bow with glue.  Cut out a cross and place in the middle.  Hang the wreath somewhere to remind you of actions or ways to love others.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Any project works with this, because it is one of the things we vowed at our baptism.  Look in your church newsletter and pick one activity to do as a family or one item that is needed and get it.  Being part of a church allows us to each do something small that becomes big because we do it with others.
  5.  Activity response:  Set an amount of time (one hour or more) and spend that time not using words.  Do not speak.  You will have to use actions and motions to get what you want or to make people understand you.
  6.  In-reach response: Try to do one thing for each person in your family without them needing to ask.  If you know you are going to be asked to do something, get it done before they can ask you.  Find a way to show you love each person without saying the words.
  7.  Game response:  Play a game of charades.  Remember no words, just motions.  Use Bible characters, stories in the Bible, or things your hear at church.
  8.  Watching the story:  For older children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No7Nq6IX23c or Paul in Thessalonica for younger children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK7oTsZ7nc4

The next page is about Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd.