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

Summer of Saints

I thought this Summer, it would be fun for families to learn about some of our saints. Saints are people who lived their life with faith, dedication to God, and changed the world (or their part of it.

July:

Carlo Acutis, (Catholic) the Patron Saint of the Internet

Did you know there was a “Patron Saint of the Internet”?  Carlo was Italian and died in 2006 of Leukemia at the age of 15! He was considered a computer genius and wrote many programs.   Even though he was sick, he used the internet to spread the word about God.  He would collect and send out any miracles people shared. He used the internet to do good deeds, too.  He collected sleeping bags for the homeless and used his money to feed the homeless near his city. He lived in Italy.  Many people reported that he made a difference in their lives and in their faith. He would often speak about being careful how technology was used, as it can easily hurt someone too.  After his death, in 2015, a boy with pancreatic cancer was healed because of Carlo (so the boy reported.) 

Activities: Have a serious talk about technology, the good and the bad.  How can your family use it for good?  How do you know when you are using it too much?  Have a technology free evening and play a board game, make a fun dessert, and look at the stars.

Crispin and Crisipian (died around 285)

Crispin and Crispian were cobblers (they made and repaired shoes).  They were twin brothers who escaped to France from Rome, where Christians were being put to death.  They were killed for their faith, even in France.  Following their death, many a battle in war was fought in their name, Shakespeare even put them in a scene in King Henry V.  Later their saint day was removed.  The Anglican church changed their day to “Black Letter Saints Day,” meaning unlucky day.  The black letters, also, refers to the names not meant to celebrated liturgically (with a church service,)

How sad to be remembered not for your faith or the way you lived, but for your unluckiness and the battles that were fought on your feast day (many were).  We know little else of them. 

Activities: What does it mean to you to be a saint?  Do you have to do something great or is just faith enough?  What about things that happen on a day given to you, but have nothing to do with you?  How do you think they felt if they could know?  Since they made and repaired shoes, go to the store and pick out a new pair of shoes and donate it to a children’s charity so a child starts school with one new pair of shoes.

Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Teresa was known for sweetness and gentleness (they called her the dove), but also, for her fierce and almost merciless when someone was cruel or unkind (they called her an eagle then.)  She ran a large church in Spain and wrote deep, poetical books about spiritual life, and then wrote books about how to fix and repair things in a house or church.  She was so known for how she could fix and organize things that her bishop put her in charge of monasteries and churches having problems.

Teresa was born into a noble family.  Her father was a scholar, who taught Teresa his love of books.  Her mother was deeply spiritual.  Her mother died when she was fourteen.  Teresa wanted to become a nun.  Against her father’s wishes, she ran away to enter a Carmelite Convent.  Her father admitted that she belonged there and she became a nun.  She started the practice of Mental Prayer and had many visions.  The whole town was upset by her visions.  She wrote books about her experience during prayer and her spiritual journey.

Prayer (From BCP): O God, who by your Holy Spirit moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your church the way of perfection: Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her teaching, and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Activities: Have you ever tried to write a book?  What would be in your book?  What can you write about God?  Try writing a few pages and read to your family. 

Teresa, like most people had two sides to her.  Have you thought about what your two sides would be?  What happens when you see an unkindness?  What do you say or do when someone you live is hurt?  How do you show kindness?  Do something kind for someone else in your home.

David Oakhater

We will hear the story of our first Native American Saint and celebrate the call to respect the dignity of every person.  We all have differences, but we are all God’s beloved children.  We are all beautiful because God created us and blessed us.

Story: David Pendleton Oakerhater

David Pendleton Oakerhater was an honored Cheyenne warrior who fought in many conflicts.  His birth name was Okuh hatuh, which means sun dancer. He was the youngest person to complete the Sun Dancer Ritual and saw his first battle at age 14. In 1875, after many battles and many wars, he was captured and while a prisoner of war in St. Augustine, Florida, he was converted to Christ. Released, he was baptized, taking the name David Pendleton, and studied for holy orders in the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York (where Deacon Lauren was ordained.). In 1881 he was ordained deacon and returned to his tribe in the Indian Territory.  There, he became a warrior for peace and for God.  He addressed his former comrades-in-arms, “…You remember when I led you out to war, I went first and what I told you was true. Now, I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is my Leader. He goes first, and all He tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now on this new road, into a war that makes peace…”

Hundreds became Christians because of his ministry.  His people called him “God’s Warrior” and “Peace Chief.”  He established a school to help educate all children.  For nearly fifty years he worked as a deacon focused on improving the life of all people, but especially the Native American.

Meditation: 

The United States is made up of so many different kinds of people from all over the world.  Many had to face great hardships and lots of misunderstanding.  Many had to fight to get rights, to be able to study, to be considered free, and to be seen as equals.  Many of those fights were physical and many were fights of the heart. 

Once he learned of Jesus and Jesus love for all people, David Pendleton Oakerhater became a “fighter” for God.  Instead of fists or weapons, he fought with love, education, and faith.  He helped change many people’s minds and hearts through his love of God and of all people.

We all are different in many ways, but in one way we are the same, we are God’s family united through his love.  Like Jesus, we love and serve each other through taking care of one another and seeing the differences as a beautiful part of the world, and a beautiful part of our family.

Prayer:  O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (BCP, p815).

Activities: Craft response: Make a simple Dream Catcher: https://www.tinyfry.com/make-dream-catcher-kids/  or Make a God’s Eye: https://tinkerlab.com/how-to-make-a-gods-eye-craft/   Both of these are Native American crafts.

June:

St. Paul (Saul of Tarsus)

Paul was so careful to obey God that he became a Pharisee.  Pharisee’s are a group of people that were extremely careful to obey God’s commands and made sure other people were obeying God’s laws.  He became something similar to a temple policeman.  He was very hard and punished people by hurting them or throwing them in jail if they didn’t do everything just right.

When Paul was an adult, he continued to live in Jerusalem.  Day after day he tried living a life to please God and obey His commands.  He began hearing news about a group of people saying the Messiah had come. These people were boldly teaching in the temple courts and everywhere they went that God had sent His Son Jesus to save people from their sins.  This news really bothered this man who loved God and His laws because he didn’t believe the stories these people were telling. He thought Jesus followers were breaking all the laws.  He thought they were lying to people.

Paul loved God so much that he was especially angered when he heard one of these followers of Jesus named Stephen teaching about God’s promises.  Stephen had the nerve to say in front of all the religious leaders that they were the ones responsible for murdering God’s promised Messiah.  Stephen was accusing the religious leaders who knew God’s Word well that they killed the Promised Savior.  He did not try to stop it when Stephen was killed.

As a devoted follower of God and keeper of His laws this man knew that these followers of Jesus needed to be stopped so their lies would spread no further.  He went to the places where these followers of Jesus gathered and arrested men and women and had them thrown in jail.  He became extremely frustrated that even though he was doing everything he could to destroy this group of believers their message was spreading even further than Jerusalem.

Saul (Paul) thought he was fighting for God and standing firm for His ways.  He did not know that he was actually fighting against God.

Even after Jesus was not on earth any more, people still followed him.  Paul was traveling to arrest and punish them.  The followers were very afraid of him.

Light, Conversion Blindness

While traveling to find more followers of Jesus and arrest them, Saul (Paul) suddenly found a bright light shining on him.  The light was so bright, it was blinding him.  Out of the light, he heard a voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  Saul (Paul) was so surprised.  He was sure he was pleasing God.  So, he asked, “Who are you?”  And the light told him that he was Jesus.  Paul had it all wrong!!! When the light disappeared, Saul was left blind.

The people traveling with him, took him to Damascus.  There a follower of Jesus was told by God to go to Paul.  The follower was afraid, but he trusted God.  He found Saul (Paul) blind and helpless.  He told Saul all about Jesus and that Saul would be known as Paul from this day on.  While they prayed together, scales fell from Paul’s eyes and he could see.

Paul went on to tell many people about Jesus.  He converted many people and became known as  The Great Lion of God.  (yay, Paul!!!).  He transformed many people’s beliefs and wrote letters to the followers of Jesus.  These letters are in our Bible in the New Testament and are known as Epistles.

Activities:  Do you think Paul moving from hurting Christians to becoming one of the loudest talkers for Christianity, helped change people’s minds?  How do you think Paul felt about his new beliefs?

Paul wrote many letters.  Write a letter telling someone about God.  It may seem hard at first, but Paul wrote all about love and being kind. 

Watch a movie about Paul’s life.


Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Catherine is the patron saint of Italy (along with Francis of Assisi).  Her name was Caterina, in Italian, was born to wealth. She was the youngest of many children (some say she had 22 brothers and sisters.) Her father was a cloth-dyers, a luxury item. There was a terrible plague and in three months, over half of Siena (the city) died.  The plague spread through all of Europe.  People began to think it was a punishment from God or that God was angry or did not care.  Catherine gave people hope again.  Catherine spent time in prayer and God sent her a vision of the future and what to do next. Catherine, also, acted as a nurse and cared for people suffering from leprosy and advanced cancer.  People believed her and had hope again.  Catherine advised many rulers, two popes, and many people in important positions.  It was very unusual for men to seek a woman’s advice and to do what she said. She encouraged those who followed God to give away their wealth to help those in need.  Catherine was known for her intelligence, her faith, her devotion to helping others, her kindness, and her ability as a mediator. 

Prayer of St. Catherine: Almighty and everlasting God, who did kindle the flame of your love in the heart of your servant Catherine of Siena: Grant unto us the same strength of conviction and power of love that, as we rejoice in her triumph, we may profit by her example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (TEC)

Activities:  Find a way to help someone who is sick.  Collect coloring books and crayons for a Children’s Hospital, collect stuffed animals for the ambulance service, make treat bags for the local nursing home.

Write a letter to a government official about something you believe should be done.

Find a movie about Catherine’s life and watch it.

Columba (527-597)

Columba was said to be of royal celtic blood. It is said that he could have been the king of Ireland, if he had wanted to. Columba wanted to only serve God and became a monk (living with other monks serving God and helping others.) To convert the Scots, Columba set up a monastery on Iona. (Deacon Lauren has done a pilgrimage and stayed there.) Columba traveled up and down the coast telling people of God. He was always cheerful and kind. It is said he did many miracles for Scotland. It is said he made the Loch Ness Monster leave the vicinity when it frightened the people by doing a cross over it. He opened a school and many hymns are attributed to him.

Prayer of St. Columba: “Kindle in our hearts, O God, the flame of love that never ceases,
that it may burn in us, giving light to others. May we shine for ever in your temple,
set on fire with your eternal light, even your Son Jesus Christ, our saviour and redeemer. Amen.”
St Columba from Anglican Prayer Book

Activities: Look up an icon of St. Columba. Do you think he looks like someone who could have been king? What kind of love would cause Columba to choose to live as a poor monk in a monastery? If you had a chance to be a king or queen, would you give it up? Why or why not?

Look up Iona and Scotland. What kind of crafts did they do? Can you find something to make?

Columba would walk and tell others about God. What would a walk like that look like for you? How or what would you tell others? Make something for a homebound person or a nursing home that shares you love of God.


Pentecost! June 5, 2022

This is Pentecost!

Pentecost is considered the birthday of the church.  We wear red on Pentecost Sunday to honor the Holy Spirit.  Red is often worn at ordinations to honor the Holy Spirit.  After this Sunday, we enter the Season After Pentecost, which is green in color.  After today, our “Alleluia!” are left off of the Invitation to Worship and the Dismissal.  We are entering ordinary time. 

Our story comes from the book of Acts in the New Testament.  The book of Acts is considered the first history book of the Christian Church.

Bible Story: The Story of Pentecost, Acts: 2.

When the Feast of Pentecost came, the Apostles were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues? The visitors were Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,   Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene; Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes; Even Cretans and Arabs!

“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel (from the Old Testament) announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says, I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams.  When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both, and they’ll prophesy.  I’ll set wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billowing smoke, the sun turning black and the moon blood-red, before the Day of the Lord arrives,
the Day tremendous and marvelous; and whoever calls out for help to me, God, will be saved.”

After more talk, that day about three thousand took them at their word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.  Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

Meditation:  Jesus had promised us a helper, a guide, an advocate would come to us and help finish what he started.  That was the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is a part of God and lives in us.  God can make amazing things happen around us and inside of us.

The first Pentecost, over 3000 people were baptized and became what is now known at the Christian Church.  They heard something they had not heard before.  They were inspired to live this new way, as a child of God and think of God as a God who loves, not seeks vengeance and control. 

We are blessed to have the Holy Spirit as our guide, our friend, our comforter and our helper.  We just have to practice listening to that Holy Spirit living inside of us.  It takes practice.  It takes practicing stillness and practicing listening.  It takes practicing trust in God. 

The birthday of the church is a thing to celebrate, because it reminds us that we are God’s family and that family goes back a long time.  It is made up of people who have faced similar struggles, challenges, and goals.  Those people are a part of our history, because the church is not the building, the church is the people.

Prayer:   O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to see things through your light, to love as you love and to rejoice in your love and comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Activities (choose one or more to do during the week):

  1. Discussion questions: What do you think it was like to hear the disciples on that first Pentecost? What are your favorite things that are red? Have you ever tried to listen to the Holy Spirit? What is the best part of a birthday?  How can you throw the church a birthday?
  2. Musical response: Song: Pass it On: The Disciples had no idea that fire from heaven was going to appear on their heads and send them out into the streets to tell everyone about Jesus! Our song for this Bible story is an old favorite for singing around campfires, but it reminds us that even a tiny spark can be enough to start a crackling fire. The Holy Spirit showed up like fire, and just as fire wants to grow and spread around, we can be “on fire” with God’s love and share that with everyone we meet. It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm up in its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love: once you’ve experienced it, you spread his love to everyone; you want to pass it on. ( © Kurt Kaiser, 1969) If you have a computer or a tablet or a smart phone, you can follow this link for a YouTube video of the song that you can sing along with: https://youtu.be/BCjR4dlY33k
  3. Craft response: Make an origami dove.  Instructions: https://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog/2012/01/how-to-make-an-origami-dove/ or Dove handprint:  Place hand on white paper with fingers squeezed together and thumb extended as far as possible.  Trace around hand.  Use marker or pencil to draw on a small wing and eye.  Use orange marker to draw on a beak.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Birthdays in isolation are very hard.  Many elderly are all by themselves.  Buy or make a bunch of birthday cards.  Make it a ministry to send each child or elderly person in our parish a birthday card when their birthday is approaching. Call an area nursing home and ask who has birthdays this month or if you can send birthday cards for the staff to hand out.
  5.  Activity response: Make a birthday cake for the church.  Let everyone help with the decorating.  Sing “Happy birthday” to the church. Each person goes around and say one thing they love about our church.
  6.  In-reach response: Pull out all the baptism photos and mementoes for the members of the family.  Talk about each person’s baptism and how they have seen God in them.
  7.  Game response: Playing Duck, Duck Goose; change the words to “Father, Son” and chase on “Holy Spirit.” Blow up a balloon for each person.  Make a start and finish line.  Placing the balloons at the start line, when someone says go, everyone blows to get their balloon over the finish line (Holy Spirit-wind).  No one may use their hands!
  8.  Watching the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rjQ_XDPIis  (for younger children) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwJJJoSGw84 (for older children)