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

Devotion & Formation for the Second Sunday in Advent

for week of December 5, 2021

This is the Second 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.

As we grow closer to Christmas, our children’s excitement fills the house.  Hopefully the excitement is focused on more than the presents they will receive.  Keeping Advent is away to keep the focus of the holidays on more than a Christmas Wish List.

The Season Liturgical color is blue. 

At St. Paul’s, we will have Las Posadas on this evening.  We follow Mary and Joseph as they look for a place to stay and have the baby.  Join us for this wonderful tradition.

For our devotion, we continue with the prophets of the Old Testament telling the people to be patient, the Messiah will come and change everything, but first one must come to prepare the way for him.

Bible Story: Malachi 3: 1-4

“Look! I’m sending my messenger on ahead to clear the way for me. Suddenly, out of the blue, the Leader you’ve been looking for will enter his Temple—yes, the Messenger of the Covenant, the one you’ve been waiting for. Look! He’s on his way!” A Message from the mouth of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

2-4 But who will be able to stand up to that coming? Who can survive his appearance?

He’ll be like white-hot fire from the smelter’s furnace. He’ll be like the strongest lye soap at the laundry. He’ll take his place as a refiner of silver, as a cleanser of dirty clothes. He’ll scrub the Levite priests clean, refine them like gold and silver, until they’re fit for God, fit to present offerings of righteousness. Then, and only then, will Judah and Jerusalem be fit and pleasing to God, as they used to be in the years long ago.

Meditation:   

Malachi tells the people that they are not ready for the Messiah.  Their hearts and minds are filled with other things.  They are too distracted with other things (sound familiar?)  So, one must come and prepare the way; prepare the hearts and prepare the minds.  This is long before John the Baptist is born, but it is he, that comes and prepares the way with words that light a fire in the people.

John was like no other.  The words he said were not like any others.  John was the “wake up call”.

Advent is the time to prepare our hearts and minds.  It is not too late to pick up an Advent practice as a family.  Gathering in a time of faith outside of the church walls, is one of the most life-giving gift we can give to our children.  It does not have to be time consuming.  It is the focus.  It is the practice of setting apart time from the rush and focus of the world.

How can you prepare your heart and mind?

Prayer:  Merciful God, who sent the prophets to teach us and prepare our hearts for a life focused on love:  Give us grace to listen to them, so we can greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ, who brings love into our world; who lives and reigns 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- Why do you think God sent the prophets?  What do you know about John the Baptist?  Why do our hearts and minds need to be prepared for Jesus?  What does your family do to prepare?  What is the most important part of Christmas for each of you?
  2. Musical response- O Come, O Come Emmanuel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=draHA_9MS18
  3. Craft response: Make an ornament out of a shell.  You can cover it with glitter or paint something on it.  A shell is the symbol for baptism.  Hang it on your tree.  If you cannot get a shell, cut one out of felt or paper.  Use a ribbon to hang it on the tree.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Go to a nursing home or find an elderly neighbor and read your favorite Christmas book to them.  Sing some carols together.  Ask them about Christmas when they were children.  The gift of our time is a gift of love.
  5.  Activity response:  Do an Advent Practice from the Advent Workshop or join us for Las Posadas.
  6.  In-reach response: Make or come up with an activity gift that you can give each person.  Give it on St. Nicholas’ feast day of December 6.
  7.  Game response:   Set up your Creche.  As you do, each person take turns telling about a figure as they add it to the Creche. 
  8.  Watching the story: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5md803

Devotion & Formation for First Sunday in Advent

Week of November 28, 2021

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. 

It is, also, the start of the Liturgical Calendar (our New Year).  We enter into Year C.

St. Paul’s Advent Home Kits will be handed out in Sunday School. 

We hear the Prophet Jeremiah talk about the coming Messiah.

Bible Story: Jeremiah 33:14-16

“‘Watch for this: The time is coming’—God’s Decree—‘when I will keep the promise I made to the families of Israel and Judah. When that time comes, I will make a fresh and true shoot sprout from the David-Tree. He will run this country honestly and fairly. He will set things right. That’s when Judah will be secure and Jerusalem live in safety. The motto for the city will be, “God Has Set Things Right for Us.” God has made it clear that there will always be a descendant of David ruling the people of Israel”

Meditation:   

Prophets form the Old Testament had been telling the Jewish people over and over that God had not abandoned them even the different times when people turned their back on God.  People would forget or ignore God when things were going very good or they would get angry and abandon God when things were not going the way they liked.  When Jeremiah tells this to the people, it was during a difficult time.  God was sending help.  Jeremiah even tells them it will be from the lineage of the great king, David.

We have all experienced times like the people in Jeremiah.  We were busy when times were good and then something bad hits and then another thing and suddenly we are lost. We may even become angry towards God or wonder if God is mad at us (He is not nor does God make bad things happen to punish us—one of the points Jesus kept telling people over and over.)  Those times are inevitable; it is part of living in this world.  We need to remember that whether we are or not, God is faithful, God is loving, God is goodness.

As we start the countdown to Christmas, it is a good time for us and our lives to reflect faith, love and goodness.  What are some steps you can take to make room for those things in your life as we await the coming of Jesus?

Prayer:  Almighty God, whose grace, love, forgiveness, and goodness is shown through the life of Jesus Christ, help us to use this Advent Season as a chance to prepare our hearts and minds for the birth of your son and help our lives to reflect your grace, love, forgiveness and goodness to this world, through your Son, Jesus and with the help 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- When is a time you felt or saw God’s love?  As your family prepares for Christmas, what is something you could focus on as a family?  When do you feel closest to people? To God?
  2. Musical response- O Come, O Come Emmanuel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=draHA_9MS18
  3. Craft response: Make an ornament as a gift for someone else.  Purchas clear ornaments made of glass or plastic.  Using paint (such as fabric paint in squirt bottles) drip it into the ornament on the inside then swirl the paint around.  Once you have added all the paint you would like, make a tag for the ornament thanking the person for their kindness, love and help.
  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:  Jesse was King David’s father.  A Jesse Tree Ornament is an ornament showing the story of an Old Testament leading to Jesus’ birth.  It reminds us that Jesus ‘ birth was a part of a story that happened long ago.  Pick a couple of Old Testament stories and make an ornament to show that story.
  6.  In-reach response: Decorate each child’s bedroom door with pictures and items of faith (and Christmas). 
  7.  Game response:   Pick an ornament.  First person starts making up a story about the ornament.  Then passes the ornament to someone else and they add to the story.   It keeps coming around until the last person tries to find a way to finish the story.
  8.  Watching the story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8CceIlA7I4

Devotion & Formation for Week of November 21

This is the last Sunday in the Season After Pentecost.  It is known as Christ the King Sunday.  We use white because it is a celebration.  We are ending the readings in Year B and about to enter Year C.

In the Gospel lesson, we hear Pilate ask Jesus if he were king.  Jesus tells him his kingdom is not of this world.  What does it mean that this world is not yet the kingdom?

In our Old Testament Lesson, we hear in the Old Testament of Daniel that a king is coming and he would have dominion over all the peoples.

So lets wonder with Pilate.

Story: John 18: 33-37

Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”

35 Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”

36 “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”

37 Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”

Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”

Meditation:   

Pilate’s plea to save Jesus seems to come from an internal need to not be involved with the persecution of Jesus.  It is said that a dream told him of a man who millions would say his death was Pilate’s fault.  Was it the dream that moved this very bloody ruler to argue to save Jesus?  Was it fear?  Was it the eyes of Jesus? 

Who is Jesus? Who is Jesus to us?  We know what the Bible says about him, we know there are many predictions in the Old Testament about him.  But who is he to you?

To me, he is God become human to make sure we know that God’s love will always win.  He is my king, but most importantly, he is the king of my heart, the one who I want to please above all others, not out of fear, but out of love and gratitude.

So, who is Jesus to you?

Prayer:  Almighty and everlasting God, whose desire is to restore all people and things in your beloved Son, the King of all kings:  Grant that the peoples of the earth, divided by opinions, beliefs, and enslaved by our brokenness, may be brought together in love and under the rule of your love; for Jesus who lives and reigns with you 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- What is a king to you?  What does Jesus being king mean?  Is as kingship with Jesus being king of your heart mean something different than king of the earth?  How can you honor Jesus as king?
  2. Musical response-Hallelujah Chorus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBZ7AfZR9xs
  3. Craft response: Make a crown.
  4. Outreach/community service response: When God is our King, that means we take into account how we can give back to him.  As a family, choose a project to do the whole of Advent: pick a name of a child off an Angel Tree, buy so much food for Second Harvest, commit to providing supplies to the homeless shelter or anything that your family feels called to do. Plan on setting aside so much time in Advent each week and stick to it.  Always finish the activity with a prayer.
  5.  Activity response: Jesus was the type of king who gave out of love.  Take turns being king, but the king picks a project to help another and all do it.
  6.  In-reach response: Write a letter or draw a picture for each person in your family telling them how much they mean to you.  The greatest and most meaningful gift we can give someone is our love.  Tell them how you will show your love.
  7.  Game response:  Put all the kings, queens, princes and princesses in a bowl that you can think of (don’t forget Jesus).  Play charades, using no words, after pulling one name from the bowl.  Who ever guess the person being acted out gets to go next acting out a name they pull out of the bowl.  Afterwards, talk about the difference between Jesus and other royalty.
  8.  Watching the Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv3QxBIz-oQ