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

Christ the King Sunday: November 20, 2022

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 C and about to enter Year A.

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


Esther: November 13, 2022

On our calendar, this is the Twenty-third Sunday in the Season After Pentecost. We are coming towards the end of this Season.  The liturgical color of green remains. 

This Sunday, we look at our Old Testament Reading.  Esther is one of only two women who have a Bible “Book” named after them. The other is Ruth. 

Esther reminds me a lot of Cinderella (the king was looking for a wife and gathered all the single girls, each one getting one “date” and he falls in love with Esther.  She reminds me of Belle because she was smart, kind to the servants, and loved to read.  She reminds me a lot of all the Disney princesses!  She was brave, kind, true, hardworking, and beautiful.

Bible Story: Esther Saves her People

Long ago, in a country called Persia (Babylon), there was a king named Achashveyrosh (as known in Jewish…  His Persian name was Xerxes) and a queen named Vashti.  King Achashveyrosh ordered his wife the queen to appear before him at a party so he could show everyone how pretty she was.  When she refused, the king was furious. To make matters worse, a rather nasty man named Haman was one of the King’s advisors.   Haman teased the king that if word got around, no one’s wife would think she had to listen to her husband.  At Haman’s urging, King Achashveyrosh ordered that his wife be sent away forever.

King Achashveyrosh wasn’t happy for long without a queen, so he ordered a search through the kingdom for a beautiful girl to be his bride. All the single girls were gathered and brought to the palace.  There they all attended “classes” to learn to be a princess and how to date a king. It wasn’t too long before the King’s scouts happened upon Esther.  Esther was beautiful, gracious and kind — just what the king was looking for.  Esther would read and comfort the other girls.  Esther was kind and always helped the servants.  Soon everyone wanted the king to choose Esther to be his queen.  When the king met Esther, she read to him.  He fell in love (love at first sight) and in no time at all, Esther was married to the king.

Now Esther was a Jew.  The Jews had been driven out of Israel, their home, about 70 years before and exiled in Persia.  Although they did their best to make a living in this strange land, they prayed that someday they would be able to return to their home.    Esther’s uncle Mordechai, was the leader of the Jews.  Mordechai encouraged Esther to hide her faith from the King and his advisors, which she did.

Haman had, by this time, become a powerful man in the kingdom – Prime Minister of Persia in fact.  He decided that given his rise in power, it would be appropriate for everyone to bow down to him.  But Mordechai refused to bow down to him.  Haman was very angry and asked the King to authorize a royal decree to take everything from the Jews and make them slaves. Haman tricked the king into signing the decree.  It would be a law!
Haman cast lots to determine the day this was to happen.  And so it was decreed that in Adar of the coming year, on the 13th day of the month, all the Jews were to be made slaves, in every province and every nation of the land.  There would be no place to run, and no place to hide.  Everything that belonged to the Jewish people would be taken away and given to the people of Persia.
This is where our brave Queen Esther comes into the picture — Mordechai, having found out about Haman’s evil intentions, sent Esther a message.  He told her what Haman was plotting and asked her to go to the King on the Jews behalf.

Esther was afraid.  She hadn’t been allowed to see the King for a month.  In fact, no one could see him without being invited.  Girls were not allowed in the throne room (the war room).  But she fasted and prayed for three days, mustered up her courage and went to see the king.  Although he was initially surprised, King Achashveyrosh loved Esther and so ordered her life spared and offered “half my kingdom for your wishes.”  She looked around at all the angry men in the room.  She asked only that the King and Haman join her for dinner that night.

At dinner, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”  Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this:  If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them.  Then I will answer the king’s question.”  Of course, both the King and Haman agreed to attend a second banquet with the lovely young Queen.

Haman was very pleased that he’d been asked to dine with Achashveyrosh and Esther two nights in a row and was filled with pride.  But then he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and still Mordecai refused to bow to him.  Haman was filled with rage.  He decided that night to punish Mordechai and planned to speak to the king about it the very next morning.  That way, he’d have the whole matter dealt with during the day and be able to enjoy the next evening’s banquet in peace.

That same night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him.  The book was turned to the day Mordecai exposed a plot to assassinate the King.  The King was reminded of this tale and asked what reward Mordecai had received.  The king’s attendants told him that nothing had been done for Mordecai.

The next morning, just as Haman was arriving to ask that Mordecai be imprisoned, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”   Haman, still filled with pride, mistakenly thought the king was referring to him.  So, he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head.  Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes.  Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, `This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'”

Imagine Haman’s shock when the King commanded, “Go at once.  Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate.”   Haman obeyed the king, of course, but not happily!  He was very upset that Mordecai, his enemy, was being honored by the king.  Immediately after leading Mordecai around the city proclaiming, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”, Haman had to go to the banquet with the King and Queen.  

Finally, Esther shared the secret of her faith and proclaimed herself a Jew.  She begged the king to spare her people.  The king was furious with Haman because he loved the Queen and ordered that Haman have the same fate he had wished on the Jews. Haman’s pride and cruelty had led to his own destruction and the brave, young Esther had saved her people.

Meditation:  The story of Esther is one of my favorite stories.  It has murder plots, love at first sight, plot twists, and all set around a woman who was kind, intelligent, and faithful to God.  She was very brave.  Because of her actions, she saved her people.  The Jewish faith still celebrates Queen Esther each February with Purim. 

My daughters grew up loving the Disney princesses (although there were not as many as there are today), but each of the qualities that makes them a hero is found in Esther.  The story of Cinderella is so close to the story of Esther and the story of Aladdin reminds me of the people in Esther (Jafar-Haman, and Jasmine having a mind of her own.)

The courage it took for Esther to go into the throne room was huge.  The king had banished his first queen because she disobeyed.  Esther had no reason to think her life would be spared if she openly disobeyed the law and the king.  She trusted God to give her the strength.

There are times that we are going to fear being laughed at because of our faith or fear of missing out on something because it happens on a Sunday.  When that day comes, I hope we all have the faith of Esther to choose God and our faith.

Prayer:  Thank You, God, for being the source of courage. We praise You for helping us to stand up and do the right thing. Help us be courageous because of You.  Help us to know you are with us through everything.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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

  1. Discussion questions- Which is your favorite Disney princess?  What is it you like about her?  Did you think Esther was brave?  What are things you need to do, but they require you to be brave?  Can you think of times that praying before you do something might help you? 
  2. Musical response: Queen Esther https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXv1ImfILOs, Queen Esther to My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/music/bsc17.htm
  3. Craft response: Make Queen Esther and King puppets: tps://sundayschoolzone.com/activity/esther-and-the-king-bible-craft/
  4. Outreach/community service response: Esther loved to read.  Write a story or record yourself reading a story and share with someone either a younger person or someone who has trouble reading because of age.
  5.  Activity response:  Celebrate Purim!  Read to get ideas:https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/5-purim-fun-jewish-holiday-article-1.2994705
  6.  In-reach response: Help someone in your family be brave and do a project they were dreading (like cleaning up the garage or cleaning out a closet).  Having people who help (like Esther had Mordecai makes everything go easier.  Put on music while you do the project!
  7.  Game response:  Help Esther through the maze https://www.biblewise.com/kids/fun/esther-the-queen.php
  8.  Watching the storyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IesvJS7_ZNo,  for older children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaS_ePAjCvk

All Saints: November 6, 2022

We enter into the Twenty-fourths Sunday in the Season After Pentecost.  November 1 is a Holy Day called All Saints Day.  All Saints Day is one of the seven principal feasts of the Episcopal Church.  It is a day used for Baptisms.

Story: Saints

A saint is a holy person, a faithful Christian, who lived their life in Christ.  In the New Testament, the title saint is applied to all faithful Christians (Acts 9:32, 26:10 and in Paul’s letters: Rom 1:7, 1 Cor 1: 2, 2 Cor 1:1, Eph 1:1, Phil 1:1, Col 1:2).  Through Jesus, we become saints.

Using the idea that saints are people who lived a life distinguished by self-sacrifice, virtue, or accomplishments, there are many saints.  The Episcopal calendar has one to two for each day of the year.  They are people who made a huge difference with their ministries.

Here is a small list of some known and unknown.

  1. Nicholas- He became known as the foundation that later became Santa Claus, but known for his sacrifice, generosity, and devotion to the early church.  He became a Bishop.
  2. David Pendleton Oakhater-Native American who brought education to his people and spread of Jesus and the Episcopal Church after living a life as a warrior.
  3. Hannah More-She fought for women education, ending of slavery, and writing poetry and plays.  She helped change the law and way people were treated.
  4. Paul-wrote the Epistles, but his faith brought Christianity to the Gentiles.
  5. Patrick- He was kidnapped as a child. His belief in Jesus enabled him to return to those who had enslaved him with forgiveness.
  6. Francis-He gave up everything material and monetary to live a life dedicated to Jesus, care of the poor, and care for the sick.
  7. Brigid- Her belief in Jesus led her to give up a rich life and take vows of poverty, build a church, and help many.  Caring for those in need, in her monastery in Ireland, a fire still burns and is kept up, never allowed to go out.
  8. Kevin- He lived his life in prayer focused on loving and caring for all of creation, especially animals.
  9. Catherine of Siena-She lived her life dedicated to Jesus and serving others.  Despite what her time felt about women, she acted as peace mediator between many kings and even gave advice to the pope.
  10. Sojourner Truth-She was a former slave, who had visions from Jesus.  She played a crucial role in women’s rights and in the way former slaves were treated.  She was the first black woman to take a white man to trial and win.  She sued to get her son out of slavery and won.
  11. Florence Nightingale-She is considered the founder of nursing as we know it.  She started nursing schools, taught hygiene practices, and cared for the sick. She was a Christian who lived her faith through her dedication to the ill and injured.
  12. Absalom Jones-He was the first black priest in the Episcopal Church.  He founded a church and taught that all are children of God.
  13. Mother Teresa-She dedicated her life to God and caring for the forgotten, especially the poor and HIV positive sick in India.  She gave dignity to the dying.
  14. Martin-He dedicated his life to Jesus.  He believed in helping others, he was helping Jesus in them.  He is known for his many visions.  He refused to fight at a battle and was even willing to go to prison.

There are so many others and more information on the ones listed above.  When Jesus said the summary of all the Commandments: Love God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind.  Love your neighbor as yourselves, he meant us to strive for that.  Saints are people who lived that summary.

Meditation:   When I was a child, I would read books about the lives of saints.  They were my heroes. For every passion or interest, there is probably a saint, who shared that passion.  For every obstacle or problem in life, there is a saint who overcame it and then went on to do amazing things.

We all need heroes.  We all need people who we can model our reactions and choices after, especially when going through a rough time.  It can strengthen us to know something is not the end, but a part of a journey.

All of us our saints, too.  So, what would your life story say about you?  In future generations, what story do you want to be written and read about your life?

Prayer:  Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (Collect for All Saints Day, BCP)

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

  1. Discussion questions- Do you have a favorite saint?  Have you ever looked up your name to see if there is a saint with that name?  How about if a saint has a feast day on your birthday? What do you think is admirable about the saints?  Do you know anyone who lives their faith so completely?  What qualities do you wish to have?
  2. Musical response-  I Sing a Song of the Saints of God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVo9hI-zfmg  Lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS_nCvf2TnU
  3. Craft response: Giant Saint Medals-cut foil out in a big oval.  Print out a coloring page of a saint.  Using something sharp (but will not cut) trace the coloring page onto the foil.  Then use a permanent marker, using the lines from the sharp object, to draw onto the foil.  You have made a large saint medallion to hang in your room or put other places to remind you of this saint.
  4. Outreach/community service response: Saints are people who helped others, especially those who are poor and sick.  Make a thank you card for those who care for the sick (like your doctor and staff) or if you know of someone living on your street.
  5.  Activity response: Find three saints and read about their life.  Is there something about their life you admire or want to be like.  Print out a coloring page of them and color it.  Put it someplace to remind you of what you admire.
  6.  In-reach response: If each member of your family was a saint.  What would make them that?  What do they do that helps you?  Call them Saint and tell them what it is they do for you.
  7.  Game response:  Saint Bingo.  Print out the cards from http://www.catholicplayground.com/all-saints-day-bingo/  Use pennies or paper clips as markers.
  8.  Watching the story – Google a saint you would like to learn more about and see their story told.  Here is a story of St. Teresa of Avila https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlrCn7YPIFw