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

Devotion & Formation for the Fourth Sunday After Epiphany (January 30)

We are at the Fourth Sunday in the Season After Epiphany.  The liturgical color is green.  At one time, the church called this the Ordinary Season, but our faith never stops growing nor should we stop practicing and learning. 

Paul wrote many letters.  He did not become a follower of Jesus until Jesus had died.  Paul thought the followers of Jesus were sinning against God.  He thought they offended God in the worst way.  One day, Jesus visited Paul and everything changed.  Paul became one of the greatest followers of Jesus.  His letters, called epistles, are read in church most Sundays.

Bible Story: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Meditation: This reading is often read at weddings.  I am guessing because the word love is used.  Paul was not writing to tell couples and friends how to get along.  He was writing to the community in the city of Corinth (in Greece.)  The people there arguing with each other about what gift of the Spirit was the greatest.  They believed that speaking in tongues (the language of the angels-they thought) was the greatest gift, so everyone claimed that was their gift.  Their gathering at church was filled with each person out yelling the others while speaking gibberish.  They did not value the gifts of teaching, healing, generosity, or interpreting what was being said.  It was causing many splits among the church. 

Paul wrote them a “sermon” in the form of a letter telling them that any gift of the spirit was meaningless if it was done without love.  He told them being boastful and trying to be better than others was not loving. Speaking the language of angels is meaningless if no one can translate what is being said. That only actions done in love with love are from the Spirit. 

He then tells them what that love is to look like (he basically tells them it is the exact opposite of the way they have been acting). He then tells them that wanting to have the best and be the best and deciding what the best is childish.  It is time to move from a self-centered way of seeing God and the gifts of the Spirit to an understanding of the use of gifts the Spirit.  They are to be used for God’s glory and the benefit of the world.

Prayer: Almighty God, you govern both Heaven and earth; you love all of us and made each of us special.  Grant us peace and love as we see each person as a brother or sister in Christ. Help us to see the beauty and gifts inside ourselves too.  We love you, Jesus and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- Discovering our gifts can take a while.  What gifts or talents have you discovered about yourself?  What about the talents you see in the others in your family?  How can you use them to benefit others and to glorify God?  How can you do something with love?
  2. Musical response- Sing God is Love
  3. Outreach/community service response: How can you share one of your gifts with others? Make a plan and do it.
  4.  Activity response:  Sometimes we have to try different things to discover a hidden talent.  Try a different activity each night for a week.  Choose from different areas: arts (drawing, music, singing, dancing, etc.), science (experimenting, learning, healing, etc.), teaching (pick something and teach it to another), and any other area you can think of.
  5.  In-reach response: Have a talent night and share what you are good at, it can be something that you show (like a picture) or do.
  6.  Game response: Sit in a circle and try to think of something you have seen or done that no one else in the circle can do.  Once everyone has had a turn, try to come up with something that you think everyone in the circle can do.
  7. Watching the story:

Devotion & Formation for the Third Sunday After Epiphany, January 23

We are at the Third Sunday in the Season After Epiphany.  The liturgical color is green.  This Season varies in length because it is the season between Christmas Season and Lent. 

This is the time we focus on the Parables and the every day life of Jesus.  This Sunday we hear Jesus reading the Scripture in the temple, just as we have a reader who reads to us in our church service.  Jesus shocks the listeners, when he finishes reading and says the scripture is fulfilled through him.

Bible Story: Luke 4:14-21

14-15 Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.

16-21 He came to Nazareth where he had been raised. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God’s Spirit is on me;
    he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
    recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
    to announce, “This is God’s time to shine!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

Meditation: Can you picture the stunned faces in the congregation when Jesus rolls up the scroll (they read scrolls and not books) and says, “Yep, God’s promise is happening now and you get to see it!”  I wonder if some thought he was crazy or just incredibly self-absorbed.  I wonder if some jumped up and shouted because in their eyes, he had just insulted God.  I wonder if some thought, “Yes, God is fulfilling his promise now!”  I wonder what I would think if I was in the crowd sitting in my pew.  Would I recognize what was happening?  It is always easy to look back after the miracle of Easter and say, “Yes, Jesus is the promised Messiah.”  It is harder to understand and see something when we are right in the middle of it.

We are in a time of so many changes and so much happening.  We receive information by so many different sources and possibilities.  How do we know what is real and what is important?  It is a must conversation for families to have.  What do we believe and what is true?  Children cannot work this out on their own; they need guidance from the adults they can trust the most.  Parents, take the time to talk about where they should and should not get their information.  Tell them how to know if something is true.  Then talk about the importance of faith.

Prayer: Give us grace, O Lord, to know you and to know the truth when we hear it.  Help us to know the Good News of Jesus in our hearts and in our heads’ that we and the whole world may know the glory of his marvelous works; who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- How do we know something we have heard is true?  Where is the best place to get information? How do we know we can trust someone?  Why is faith important?  Why is Jesus important to our lives?
  2. Musical response- Sing God is so Good
  3. Outreach/community service response: How can you help others to know Jesus?  Maybe, bake some cookies and deliver them with a card that says “God loves you” or pot a plant and do the same note.  Deliver it to people who need encouragement or who are alone.
  4.  Activity response:  Look up some unusual facts and share them (there are weird laws, unusual animal facts and more that you can find out about.)
  5.  In-reach response: Encourage someone to attend church with you.
  6.  Game response: Play two lies and the truth.  Each person says three things and only one is true.  The other people try to guess which one is the truth.
  7. Watching the story:

Devotion & Formation for the Second Sunday After Epiphany

We are in the Second Sunday in the Season After Epiphany.  The liturgical color is green.  This Season varies in length because it is the season between Christmas Season and Lent. 

This Sunday, we hear about the wedding in Cana.  It is famous for Jesus turning the water into wine.  It is known even by non-believers. 

Bible Story: John 2:1-11

1-3 Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.”

Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.”

She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”

6-7 Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim.

“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did.

9-10 When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

11 This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Meditation: I do a lot of wondering about this story.  Jesus’ mother asks him to do something seemly trivial, the wedding they are attending of a family member or close friend is out of wine.  This would bring shame to the family.  She not only asks Jesus to do it, but she asks in such a casual fashion as if he is performing miracles on a regular basis.  It is fun to wonder what they are doing in their home while no one is watching. 

He tells her it is not his time.  It is not time to go public.  I picture a teenage Jesus saying, “Mommmmmm.”  But he does it.  He does it and people remember.  Maybe, later when Jesus was out doing these wonderful, miraculous things, a server says, “I knew him.  I was at a wedding and he once…” or was there another reason that this story got retold.  Was it because Jesus did a kindness that was not a part of a bigger picture, but because the woman who loved him most asked and she did not ask for much.  Lots of things to wonder about.

It turns out to be the best wine.  Everyone talks about it that is there.  When Jesus did it, he made sure it was special.  The host is acclaimed by the guests.  I wonder what he was thinking. We never hear about the host again or the bride and groom.  Like so many wonderful things that happen, it fades away and is forgotten.  Other problems come up, other good things happen, and we forget what at one moment seemed so important. 

I keep a gratitude journal so I can go back and remember those little times or the times an answer came, sometimes miraculously or sometimes in a whisper.  I write things down each day and then go back and read it.  It brings me laughter, joy, and a grateful heart.

Prayer:  Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world; Grant us a heart that lives in thankfulness, eyes that see your glory, and ears that hear the music of creation.  May we know Jesus, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- What has happened in the last year, month, week that you are grateful for?  What did you see God in?  What miracle did you see?  Find a story that turned miraculous and share (it can be about you or someone you know or a story you have heard.)
  2. Musical response- Sing Thank you, Lord for Making Me , the Thankfulness Song
  3. Craft response: Make a Gratitude Journal.  Get a spiral notebook.  Decorate the cover using pictures, stickers, buttons, sequins, etc.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Water is necessary for life.  Talk about the importance of water and think of ways to raise money to donate a well or fresh water.  Organizations such as Episcopal relief and Development have programs you can help.
  5.  Activity response:  Write in your Gratitude Journal.  Do this a few minutes before bed.  Remind each other of things that would be good to write in it.  Say a quick prayer thanking God.
  6.  In-reach response: At dinner each night this week, say something you are thankful for from that day. 
  7.  Game response: Take turns being blindfolded.  Pick three similar juices or foods.  See if the person can tell what each one is.
  8. Watching the story: The Wedding at Cana