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

Week of May 16 Devotion & Formation

It is the seventh Sunday in Easter.  The liturgical color is white for the joy and importance of this season.  This Season lasts until Pentecost, May 23.  We have three more weeks to say, “Alleluia, alleluia” at the dismissals and their responses.

Instead of the Old Testament, we read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles (known as Acts).  The Acts is a historical book about the early Christian Church and follows the Gospels in the New Testament.  This Sunday, our reading from Acts focuses on choosing a replacement for Judas Iscariot.  The Apostles have a new ministry, they are no longer the followers; they become the teachers.

Our other readings are from 1 John 5, where we hear instructions to continue to tell the story of Jesus and in the Gospel of John, chapter 17, we hear Jesus asking God for blessings on the ministry of the Apostles.  This week, we focus on Acts.

Bible Story: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

During this time, Peter stood up in the company—there were about 120 of them in the room at the time—and said, “Friends, long ago the Holy Spirit spoke through David regarding Judas, who became the guide to those who arrested Jesus. That Scripture had to be fulfilled, and now has been. Judas was one of us and had his assigned place in this ministry.

“Judas must now be replaced. The replacement must come from the company of men who stayed together with us from the time Jesus was baptized by John up to the day of his ascension, designated along with us as a witness to his resurrection.”

They nominated two: Joseph Barsabbas, nicknamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, O God, know every one of us inside and out. Make plain which of these two men you choose to take the place in this ministry and leadership that Judas threw away in order to go his own way.” They then drew straws. Matthias won and was counted in with the eleven apostles.

Meditation:

The number 12 is very important in Biblical times, which may explain why they felt the need to replace Judas Iscariot.  There were more than 11 followers and disciples of Jesus in life and after his death, but Jesus had chosen 12 to act as Apostles, leaders, in the faith.  We see the number 12 from the twelve tribes of Israel who became the foundation of the Jewish faith and practices.

We have all been chosen by God to be his children.  We each have gifts and talents that we are given to use to help each other, the people of the world, and to spread love.  There are ways we can choose each day to act on spreading that love and helping others.  Sometimes, it is easier to chose the selfish choice.  It is times like that when we need to remember that we are all made by God and called by Jesus to choose to do loving thing.

Being a leader in faith means that we know others, especially those younger than us, are watching us.  Leading by our actions is stronger than any words we may say (although words are important too).  “Walking the talk” is an expression that means we do what we say.  Others watching us will see we have faith if we walk the talk.  Choosing to act with love, even in difficult situations, is how we do that.  Jesus modeled that for us on the cross, when he acted with love and forgiveness, despite the wrongs being done to him and he called on his followers to do the same.

How can you use your gifts and your actions to help another this week?  How can you choose to act with love?

Prayer:  O God, thank you for your continued love and mercy.  Help us to choose to act with love and be followers of Jesus Christ that lets others know of your love and goodness.  May we use the gifts you have given us to spread your love.  Give us guidance with the Holy Spirit; who with the Jesus lives and reigns with you forever.  Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- What are some things you are very good at?  What are things you enjoy doing?  How can you use those gifts and talents to help others?  Name a difficult situation this week and share how you did or could have chosen to act with love?
  1. Musical response- Words for The Twelve Apostles Song: https://dltk-kids.com/bible/twelve_disciples.html Video of song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFvxbHAJtzg
  1. Craft response: Make a Golden Rule Ruler: https://www.sundayschoolkids.com/activities-nt/1-nt-golden-rule-instru.htm
  1. Outreach/community service response: Sharing God’s love to help others is about reaching out to those in need, especially those we do not know.  Who in your community needs to know they are loved?  Who needs help?  One way is to continue giving to the 1000 Days of Love for children in their first 1000 days of life.  To learn more or to give visit: https://www.episcopalrelief.org/1000daysoflove/
  1.  Activity response: Take a walk outside and see all that God has made.  Flowers, birds, animals, plants, the sky and more that you see were all created by God.  Talk about what you like about each thing you see.  How can you show God’s love on your walk?  
  1.  In-reach response: Walking the talk starts with our family and those closest to us.  Once each day, chose a family member to show God’s love to.  Plan how you will do it.  Ask what they need if you need some ideas.   
  1.  Game response:  Bible Trivia Game on Disciples (for older children)-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT4wkgqIy7s . For younger children: print out and play Bible Memory game https://www.123homeschool4me.com/12-disciples-memory-game_99/
  1. Watching the story: Watch the whole book of Acts or stop after the Apostle is chosen : Holy Tales https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IQFfyxDHaQ , For older children (funny) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO0PKQiZROE

For Mother’s Day Activities and Devotions, Continue on


Mother’s Day (and week) Devotion & Formation

Happy Mother’s Day!  Instead of the Lectionary, we are going to focus on women in the Bible.  Everyone has a female figure in their life who helps them and directs them.  Women without children are also celebrated today because they have influenced and continue to influence children’s lives.

The Bible is filled with strong women who changed the course of history and who without, many of the Bible Stories would have either not happened or would have had to wait for another time.  Some of the women are Sarah, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Hannah, Abigail, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia and so many others whose choice of value and character forever shaped the future and our faith.

Bible Story: The Mother of John the Baptist and the Mother of Jesus, Luke 1:5-45

During the rule of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest assigned service in the regiment of Abijah. His name was Zachariah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron. Her name was Elizabeth. Together they lived honorably before God, careful in keeping to the ways of the commandments and enjoying a clear conscience before God. But they were childless because Elizabeth could never conceive, and now they were quite old.

It so happened that as Zachariah was carrying out his priestly duties before God, working the shift assigned to his regiment, it came his one turn in life to enter the sanctuary of God and burn incense. The congregation was gathered and praying outside the Temple at the hour of the incense offering. Unannounced, an angel of God appeared just to the right of the altar of incense. Zachariah was paralyzed in fear.

But the angel reassured him, “Don’t fear, Zachariah. Your prayer has been heard. Elizabeth, your wife, will bear a son by you. You are to name him John. You’re going to leap like a gazelle for joy, and not only you—many will delight in his birth. He’ll achieve great stature with God.

“He’ll drink neither wine nor beer. He’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment he leaves his mother’s womb. He will turn many sons and daughters of Israel back to their God. He will herald God’s arrival in the style and strength of Elijah, soften the hearts of parents to children, and kindle devout understanding among hardened skeptics—he’ll get the people ready for God.”

Zachariah said to the angel, “Do you expect me to believe this? I’m an old man and my wife is an old woman.”

But the angel said, “I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time—God’s time.”

Meanwhile, the congregation waiting for Zachariah was getting restless, wondering what was keeping him so long in the sanctuary. When he came out and couldn’t speak, they knew he had seen a vision. He continued speechless and had to use sign language with the people.

When the course of his priestly assignment was completed, he went back home. It wasn’t long before his wife, Elizabeth, conceived. She went off by herself for five months, relishing her pregnancy. “So, this is how God acts to remedy my unfortunate condition!” she said. (Elizabeth believed when her husband did not).

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her.  He told her that she was chosen above all women, but Mary had a choice.  She answered, “Let it be with me just as you say.”  Then the angel left her.

Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly, “You’re so blessed among women,
and the babe in your womb, also blessed!  And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me?  The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.  Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!”

Elizabeth gave birth to a baby boy and named him John.  He became known as John the Baptist.  Mary gave birth to a baby boy and named him Jesus. 

Meditation:  Children are who they are by a combination of God’s plan (and faith in that plan), the parents who raise them, the adults they encounter, and the choices they make.  John, would not have been the John the Baptist that we know, if Elizabeth had not had faith, followed God, and raised John the way she did. 

Many young girls when faced with a choice to sacrifice for all the world or live in peace, harmony and love, would probably question sacrificing their lives and family to a greater purpose; especially one that does not benefit them.  Mary did it with love. 

The mothers and women in our lives give us so much of who we are.  They help us to navigate the world, to learn, to grow, to have faith and develop values. (both parents do, but we are focusing on the women.)  Other women in our lives act as teachers, seed planters, and help children to learn who they are and what is possible.  They do so with joy.  We are blessed to have our mothers, but, also, all the women in our lives who surround us, guide us and encorage us.  They all shape us and help us to be who we are and what we will become.

Prayer:   Almighty God, we thank you for all the women in our lives, especially our mothers.  We ask you to bless them, give them strength when they need it, and let them know how the many ways they care for us, is being your hands on earth and for us.  Thank you, Lord, for blessing our lives with them.  In Jesus name, the Son of Mary, we pray, Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions: Who are the women in your life and name one thing that you are glad they have taught you? Do you think it was hard for Mary to be the mother of Jesus?  What part of Jesus’ life do you think was the hardest for Mary?  What was the best part? Elizabeth was very old when she gave birth to John and was not alive when John started his ministry.  Do you think she would have been surprised on what John did and said?  Why?
  2.  Musical response: Ask your mother or another important woman in your life to teach you a song they sung as a child in Sunday School or at church.  Even if they only know the chorus, that is okay.
  3. Craft response: Make a thank you card for several women in your life, include your relatives and women who have helped you (teachers, church family, etc.) Besides thank you, write one or more things they have taught you or done for you.
  4. Outreach/community service response: There are many homebound women from our parish, who are feeling very lonely and isolated.  Find a way to reach out to them to let them know that they still matter.  Ideas include bake cookies, write a letter telling about yourself and asking to be pen pals, dropping off a flowering plant or food.
  5.  Seasonal activity response: It is Mother’s Day week, pick a chore your mother usually does (like cleaning dishes or making beds) and do it for three days this week.
  6.  In-reach response: Give your mom a night off this week to show her how much you appreciate her.  Plan everything with the other adult in your house (or closest relative.) 
  7.  Game response: Cut out hearts and write one thing your mother does that you are thankful for on each heart.  Hide them throughout the house and let her find them throughout the house.

Devotion and Formation for God is Love follows on next page.