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

Fifth Sunday in Easter: May 15, 2022

Welcome to the Fifth Sunday in Easter.  The Season of Easter still has three more weeks to go.  The liturgical color is white for the joy and importance of this season.  This Season lasts until Pentecost.

The Season of Easter is a time of joy and celebration.  The “Alleluia, alleluia” is added to the dismissals and their responses during the Great Fifty Days.

On Sundays, we do not read from the Old Testament.  The Book of the Acts of the Apostles (known as Acts) is read instead.  The Acts is a historical book about the early Christian Church and follows the Gospels in the New Testament.

This Sunday at our church, we honor our Fifth Graders with a breakfast.  At 4:00 PM today, our Fourth & Fifth Graders have arranged a concert to benefit Ukrainian child refugees.

Bible Story: Acts

The Book of Acts is a book of history of what happens to the Apostles after Jesus death and his resurrection.  It is a history book of the early Christian Church.  It is filled with the amazing growth and steps taken in Jesus’ name and in the faith that grew out of it.    It is so long, there is no way to include it in here, but reading it is an amazing story,  I have included video of the story for children to watch.

Meditation:

Just as the Acts of the Apostles is the story of how the early Christians live out their faith, we are called to live out our faith.  Our young people are raising funds to help with Ukraine.  The stories of the children are heart breaking.  As Christians, we are called to love.  Love is an act, not just a feeling.  How can your family do an act of love to help others?

To read more about the Ukraine refugees visit Unicef or Episcopal Relief and Development.

Prayer:  O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of the bread; grant that our hearts, minds, and eyes may be open to seeking you, knowing you, and participating in the life of Christ; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- The Apostles faced so much opposition, but they, also, grew the church in very large numbers.  Have you ever told someone about Jesus who did not know about him?  Would it be hard to talk about it?  How do you live your faith?  What acts do you do to be a follower of Jesus?
  1. Musical response- They Will Know We are Christians By our Love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3UAneLvDqY
  1. Craft response: The Book of Acts is basically a diary.  Make a diary and decorate a cover.  Write or draw the things you do each day for God and out of love.
  1. Outreach/community service response: Come to our Ukraine Benefit Show or have a lemonade sale and give the funds to Episcopal Relief and Development and mark it for Ukraine.
  2.  Activity response: Each night, read a part of the Book of Acts.
  1.  In-reach response: Acts of love are not just things we do for others far away; they are things we do for all.  What is an act of love you can do for someone who lives in your home?  Do it!
  1.  Game response:  Play a game of “Acting”. 
  1. Watching the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IQFfyxDHaQ

Third Sunday in Easter: May 1, 2022

This is the third Sunday in the Season of Easter.  The color is a joyous white.  We say “Alleluia” often.

The Readings this Sunday are from Acts (we read Acts in place of the Old Testament Reading during Easter), Revelation, and John 21.  In Acts, we follow Saul as he becomes Paul, a warrior for Jesus post-resurrection.  In John, we read of another post-resurrection appearance.  This time for Peter, who denied Jesus three times on the last day of Jesus’ life.

Bible Story: John 21:1-19 (from the Message)

21 1-3 After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”

3-4 The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him. Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”

They answered, “No.”  He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”

They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.  7-9 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Master!”

When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren’t far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.  10-11 Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn’t rip.  12 Jesus said, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.  13-14 Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.

Do You Love Me?  15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Master, you know I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  “Yes, Master, you know I love you.”  Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”  17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

Meditation:   “Feed my sheep” has become a famous line and in some sense a command, not just for Peter, but for all of us. Some of us can relate to Peter’s betrayal in that Peter was afraid for his life and so he denied knowing Jesus.  It is easy to judge Peter, but at that moment, who can say what we would do.  There is no doubt that Peter loved Jesus and believed in him, but for a night, his fear led his words and not his faith.  So Jesus does not pretend the betrayals did not happen.  He asks Peter, once for each betrayal, “Do you love me?”  This allows Peter to not only correct his betrayal, but leads him to a bigger faith decision.  From this moment forward, Peter will be the “Rock” of the early Christian Church.  He will become the first bishop and leader.  He will give it his all, even when it leads him to a cross.  He dies willingly and will not betray Jesus again.  Jesus did not doubt Peter’s love.  Jesus does not ask Peter because he wants reassurance, he asks so Peter can choose.  Jesus already knows the answer, and gives Peter the chance to choose the answer. 

“Feed my sheep” has become a call for Peter, and for us, to take care of each other, to look out for the other, and to find ways to help those around us and in our world.  Sometimes, we find big ways to help, but feeding the sheep does not have to be a big act, it can be a small act, such as picking up something that fell, letting someone know they are not alone with a smile, a squeeze of a hand, or a donated can of food.  What a difference we would all make if we awoke each day and said, “How can I feed Jesus’ sheep today?”

Prayer:  O God, open our eyes of our faith, help us to see the needs around us and to find ways to care for others; like Jesus, your blessed Son did; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of 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 do you think Peter was thinking when he was talking to Jesus?  Do you think Peter felt bad for what he had done?  Why do you think Jesus asked, “Do you love me?”  What do you think Jesus was asking Peter to do when he said “Feed my sheep.”?  How do you feed sheep?  Who are the sheep?  What can you do to feed Jesus’ sheep? 
  2. Musical response- They will know we are Christians by our love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfg5VTyDkyA .
  3. Craft response: Make a collage of the people who are in your flock.  Place it in a place that you can see.  Use it as a reminder to pray for them.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Pick a project to “Feed” others.  Then do it together as a family.  Afterwards, talk about how it felt.  How did the people, that you helped, respond?
  5.  Activity response:  Each night, each person takes a turn and names a way they found to help someone. 
  6.  In-reach response: Talk about the differences between needs and wants.  What makes a need?  Share what you each need from each other and why.  Talk about how you are all dependent on each other and the importance of counting on each other.
  7.  Game response:  Change three truths and a lie to “Three wants and a need”, each person lists three things they want and one thing they need.  The others try to guess which is a want and which is a need.  The older the children, the more complex you can make the named things.
  8.  Watching the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch4Cmh3kSvc

Second Sunday in Easter: April 24, 2022

Welcome to the Second Sunday in Easter.  The Season of Easter lasts eight weeks (50 days).  The liturgical color is white for the joy and importance of this season.  This Season lasts until Pentecost.

From early times the Greek word pentecost (fiftieth day) was used also for the whole Paschal season. During this season there is no fasting; it is a celebration. The Council of Nicaea in 325AD, directed that Christians are to pray standing during this season. The word “alleluia” (praise the Lord) is said or sung repeatedly (in contrast to Lent where it was omitted.)  The Book of Common Prayer (our liturgical worship guide) notes that it is customary for the Paschal candle to burn at all services of the Easter season. The “Alleluia, alleluia” is added to the dismissals and their responses during the Great Fifty Days.

On Sundays, we do not read from the Old Testament.  The Book of the Acts of the Apostles (known as Acts) is read instead.  The Acts is a historical book about the early Christian Church and follows the Gospels in the New Testament.

Our Readings this Sunday is from Acts 5,  Revelations 1, and the Gospel from John 20.  We hear how the disciples encountered a resurrected Jesus.

Bible Story: John 20: 19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Meditation:

Can you imagine the surprise the apostles felt?  They are in a locked room.  They are afraid: they are afraid of being arrested like Jesus, they are afraid of being tortured like Jesus, and they are afraid of being put to death like Jesus.  They are hiding.  Besides being afraid, they are lost.  What do they do without their leader?  Jesus was to guide them; Jesus was to solve their problems.  They are confused and unsure what to do next.  Should they return to their homes, hoping no one will recognize them?  Should they run to a far away place and hide?  Where can they go to be safe?

While all these thoughts and emotions are running through their heads, Jesus appears right in the middle of that locked room.  Surprise!  The emotions and thoughts that came to them probably were very changing.

Thomas was not in the room.  He returns to find the atmosphere in the room has changed.  Instead of fear and shaking, he finds them talking and exclaiming.  They sound crazy to Thomas.  Have they lost their minds?  Or maybe they are trying to trick him since he left them in their sadness.  They tell him the good news.  Thomas looks at them in disbelief, “Come on, who are you trying to fool?”  They tell him it is true.  Thomas looks at them skeptical—are they all crazy or are they all in on the joke to make him look foolish?  Thomas tells them, “Unless I see for myself, I will not believe.”

Poor Thomas: from this moment on, he will be known as Doubting Thomas.  He will not be known for the many good deeds he did, he will not be known for those whose lives he touched, he will not be known for the many Christians he made or for the death he died because of his belief in Jesus as the Son of God.  He will be known for the one moment, the one comment, on this day in that locked room.

Thomas does believe once he sees Jesus.  He does not need to put his finger on Jesus or touch him in any way.  Thomas’ skepticism is wiped out when Jesus appears.

It is not hard to put ourselves in Thomas’ place.  After all, have we not been in a place of fear (or anxiety) and we cannot see beyond that moment?  Have we not had difficult times in our lives when our faith seems hard to rely on?  Have we not felt lost and could not see more than what is immediately around us?

Faith in good times and easy times is not hard.  Faith, when the opposite of what we want to happen, or the thing we are afraid of most is happening, is when it is hard to stay strong in faith.  When we need it the most, can be the times, when we need to see it to believe it too.  If we have faith and stay strong, we will see that we do not have anything to doubt; God’s love and presence never leaves us.

Prayer:  Almighty and everlasting God, who created the Easter mystery to show us love: Grant that all who have faith in the family with Christ as the head, may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- What do you think was the look on the disciples’ faces when Jesus appeared in the locked room?  What do you think they were thinking was happening?  Have you ever been very surprised?  What did you think during your initial surprise?  What do you think of Thomas’ reaction?  Have you ever believed something was not true and then you learned it was?
  1. Musical response- Faith is Just Believing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54jdoEIL7uk
  1. Craft response: Using a toilet paper roll cardboard, cut a piece of paper and decorate it with symbols of faith for you.  Glue it on.  Now holding your hand palm up and open, place it next to (and touching) the end of the roll, but not blocking the end.  Now hold the paper roll to your eye (like a telescope) and look through the roll with both eyes (one eye through roll and one eye on hand).  Your hand will have a hole in it!  Sometimes, seeing is not the truth.
  1. Outreach/community service response: Who are the people you know who might feel left out by others?  Is it someone at school?  Is it someone who does not have as much?  Is it someone who cannot go out?  Make a list and think of a way to make them feel they matter to you.  How can you “love” them like God does?
  1.  Activity response: Learn somethings that are amazing but true.  Try and find as many things you can about something you are interested in.  Here is an example of animal facts (and Thomas) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foJgyECyUFQ .  Try and find some surprising facts that any one would doubt or surprised are true.
  1.  In-reach response: Sometimes others believe in us more than we believe in ourselves.  Tell the others in your family, something about them that you think helps them to be a good person or something you think they do really well.
  1.  Game response:  Play two truths and a lie. Each person tells two things that are true and one that is make believe.  Everyone tries to guess which is the made up.  It can be about you, about animals, about anything. 
  1. Watching the story: See the story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzMo_fysxbI