Friday, March 24, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 26 March 2017

Children are like kites
You spend years trying to get them off the ground.
You run with them until you are both breathless. They crash ... they hit the roof ... you patch, comfort and assure them that someday they will fly.
Finally, they are airborne.
They need more string, and you keep letting it out.
They tug, and with each twist of the twine, there is sadness that goes with joy.
The kite becomes more distant, and you know it won't be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that binds you together and will soar as it is meant to soar ... free and alone.
Only then do you know that you have done your job.

Family Closeness
Game:
Alphabet Soup Game
Grab a packet of alphabet soup. With your family find the letters to spell out the Lord’s Prayer together, or the names of the four gospels. Alternatively, have a race to spell your names or some other words. This game works best when the alphabet soup has been soaked in water. Messy but fun.

Sharing:
These questions are to stimulate a sense of openness, sharing and discovery about your family. The key is to listen!
What is your favourite time of the day? What makes it special? Do you have a favourite place to be during the day? Why do you like it? What is your favourite place in the whole world to be? What makes it special?
Have you ever wondered how lead is put inside a pencil? How do you think it is done? Do you really care? What ordinary things have you ever wondered about?

What is the best gift you have ever received? Who gave it to you? What was it for? Why did you like it so much?

Write down these sentence starters and put them in a bowl. Pick one out each night and ask your family members to complete the sentence.
  • If I could ask God any question it would be...
  • I often wonder if God…
  • If God could say something to me, it would be...

Story
With your family read John 9.1-41
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at http://www.sermons4kids.com/to-god-be-glory.html 
  • What did the disciples think caused the man’s blindness?
  • What did Jesus put on the man’s eyes before he was healed?
  • Why did the Pharisee’s find it so hard to believe the man was healed?
  • What do you think Jesus meant when he said “I am the light of the world?”

Discuss with your family what was interesting about the story or what made you think. What did the story tell us about Jesus? Try using some “ I wonders” that emerge from the story (I wonder how the blind man felt when he was healed? I wonder what he thought about the Pharisees questions?  I wonder what it would be like to see for the first time?)
  
For 51 years Bob Edens was blind. He couldn't see a thing. His world was a black hall of sounds and smells. He felt his way through five decades of darkness. And then, he could see. A skilled surgeon performed a complicated operation and, for the first time, Bob Edens had sight. He found it overwhelming. "I never would have dreamed that yellow is so...yellow," he exclaimed. "I don't have the words. I am amazed by yellow. But red is my favorite colour. I just can't believe red. I can see the shape of the moon--and I like nothing better than seeing a jet plane flying across the sky leaving a vapour trail. And of course, sunrises and sunsets. And at night I look at the stars in the sky and the flashing light. You could never know how wonderful everything is." (From Max Lucado, God came near.)
  
Prayer and Celebration
We are now in the Season of Lent, the forty days preceding Easter Day. This is traditionally a time of repentance (saying sorry and turning from sin). The resources for prayer and celebration for the next six weeks will focus on ways your family might “celebrate” well this season. Lent is a good time to focus on God’s care and provision and on our dependence on him, but also on saying sorry.

Prayer Pot
Cards are made, and on them are the names of people and things that are really important to the family.  It may just be photos of family members; it may include particular projects or things that have a focus in the family, for example a certain missionary, or World Vision child, or a major event coming up, or particular people who are in need of special prayers. These cards are placed in a special bowl or pot.  On any one night, three cards are taken out and used as prompts for conversation or prayer. Children who are learning to pray might be given sentence starters like:
  • Lord Jesus, thank you for...
  • Creator God, please help...
  • Heavenly Father, in your hands we place...
  
Service
One of the profoundest ways that we might share our love of Christ and our love of life with others is not through words but through our loving actions. Here are some suggestions for your family to share with those who live around you.

Invite another family who you are friendly with to church followed by a BBQ.

Bake something for your neighbours – maybe biscuits or a cake. (Do you know your neighbours? Where I live, I have had six sets of neighbours on one side in the space of five years.)

When you see people moving in, why not invite them over for some food or take a cake or biscuits over to them or some cold drinks.

If you know of an elderly or chronically ill person who is having difficulty with their garden, why not get your family to adopt them. That is, regularly (as a family) go and mow the grass, weed, clean up and maybe plant some flowers.

Family Time
Cook a Meal Together
This week, why not get your children to help you cook a meal or something special like a cake or biscuits? It could be as simple as putting the toppings on a pizza or mixing something in a bowl. With older children, why not get them to help you make something more complex? Make it a fun time, put some music on and don’t worry too much about mess. Enjoy eating whatever it is you cooked together.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Friday, March 17, 2017

Faithful Families Resources for 19 March 2017


One day an expert was speaking to a group of students on time management and he used this illustration. Firstly he took out a wide mouthed jar, then he produced about a dozen large rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. 
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?"  He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel.  Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was onto him.  "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!"  He replied.  And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand.  He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.  Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" "No!"  The class shouted.  Once again he said, "Good!"   Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.  Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?" One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!" "No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point.  The truth this illustration teaches is this: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

Family Closeness
Game:
What is it?
Select 20 objects from around the house. Wrap them in cloth – any old scrap will do – and attach numbers to each. Try to figure out what each object is. (From Youth Ministry Encyclopaedia by Lyman Coleman. JBCE)

Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family:
A question to discuss with your children (4-8)
Your teacher asks who spilled juice during snack time. You did. Do you tell?
A question to discuss with your youngsters (ages 9-12)
You find five dollars on the pavement near school. What do you do with the money?
A question to discuss with your teenagers.
Your friend got a copy of the answers to the questions on tomorrow's math test and offers them to you. Do you take them? Why? Why not? What do you say to your friend?

Write down these sentence starters and put them in a bowl. Pick one out each night and ask your family members to complete the sentence.
I know God loves me because…
I’m glad that God…
I wish God would…
Story
With your family read John 4.5-15: The Samaritan Woman at the Well
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at http://www.sermons4kids.com/thirst_quencher.html

Questions for Discussion:
  • Why was the woman surprised Jesus asked her for a drink?
  • Why is water so important?
  • What is the living water Jesus talks about? Any ideas?
  • Why is what Jesus offers us – life in the Spirit and eternal life – so important?

[Help for parents: The living water Jesus talks about refers to all the things that flow from faith in Jesus. These include the gifts of grace and the Holy Spirit. Both these things lead to life and life everlasting. Just as water gives us physical life – the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life, dwelling within us and making us into a new creation.]

After giving a woman a full medical examination, the doctor explained his prescription as he wrote it out. "Take the green pill with a glass of water when you get up. Take the blue pill with a glass of water after lunch. Then just before going to bed, take the red pill with another glass of water." "Exactly what is my problem, Doctor?" the woman asked.
"You're not drinking enough water."

Prayer and Celebration
We are now in the Season of Lent, the forty days preceding Easter Day. This is traditionally a time of repentance (saying sorry and turning from sin). The resources for prayer and celebration for the next six weeks will focus on ways your family might “celebrate” well this season. Lent is a good time to focus on God’s care and provision and on our dependence on him, but also on saying sorry.

Encourage your family to pray by using their imagination, picturing in their head the people or things they wish to pray for.
Picture in your mind something that happened this week that you want to say thank you for.
Picture in your mind a person who is special to you that you wish to say thank you for.
Picture in your mind all the beautiful things in creation that God made that you want to say thank you for.

Service
Many churches have a food pantry for people in need. When you go shopping, especially if you take your children shopping, invite them to choose an item to place in the food hamper. It doesn’t matter if they choose something that you might not think appropriate...like Coco Pops...even people in need like Coco Pops.

Family Time
The Bag that’s me
Create a paper bag collage out of newspaper or magazine cuttings. Paste on the outside of the paper bag any cuttings that symbolise how you appear on the outside. Put inside the paper bag any symbols that reveal who you are on the inside. Spend ten minutes tearing out things from a magazine – words, photographs, slogans – anything that reminds you of yourself. Then take about five minutes pasting your cuttings on the outside or inside of your paper bag. Share with your family what is on the outside and inside of your bag. Children can just use pictures of things that they like. (From Youth Ministry Encyclopaedia. JBCE)

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Friday, March 10, 2017

Family Resources for Second Sunday in Lent



Family Closeness
Game
Emotions
Everyone shuts their eyes and someone calls out an emotion (joy, sorrow, happiness). Everyone tries to portray this emotion through facial expression. When the caller says open, everyone must open their eyes to see each other’s expression.

Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family.
  • Have you ever found yourself in a big mess as a result of telling a lie?
  • Who did you lie to?
  •  What mess did it create?
  • What did you do? Is it now resolved? How?
  • What would you do differently next time?

(From Have You Ever... by Les Christie (Zondervan))

Story
With your family read: John 3.1-17  Nicodemus Visits Jesus
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at http://www.sermons4kids.com/born_again.htm

 Questions for Discussion:
  • Why do you think Nicodemus might have visited Jesus at night?
  • What do you think Jesus meant by being born anew or born from above?
  • What might it mean to be changed into a child of God?
  • When you are in trouble, do you prefer someone to help you or tell you what you have done wrong?


Prayer and Celebration
We are now in the season of Lent, the forty days preceding Easter Day. This is traditionally a time of repentance (saying sorry and turning from sin). The resources for prayer and celebration for the next six weeks will focus on ways your family might “celebrate” well this season. Lent is a good time to focus on God’s care and provision and on our dependence on him, but also on saying sorry.

Why do we have “seasons” of the church year? In a wonderful way they help us to tell more fully the story of faith, the story of Jesus. During Advent, we are alerted to the coming of Christ, not only as a baby 2000 years ago, but also in expectation of his return. In Epiphany, we become aware of the presence of God in our world and the mission of Christ to proclaim the redeeming kingdom of God. This season, Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter, focuses on repentance, turning from sin, turning from self-worship, remembering that God is our creator. Lent also focuses on the covenant or promises God has made with his people through the ages and now.

Often in Lent, people give up something they enjoy like chocolate or coffee or ice-cream or TV. This is a form of fasting to help us remember our ultimate dependence on God. Sometimes people take up something new like the reading of Scripture more intently or more regular visits to church.

Lent is a season of remembering to say sorry to God for missing the mark. While Lent is a time of repentance and penitence, it does not have to be a morbid time as we also look forward to the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter. Why not use some symbols to help your family get a feel for the Season of Lent? Some of the following things could be used during your family prayer time or mealtime ritual to mark the season.

Smell:  Rosemary.
Taste:   Salt.
Colour: Purple.
Feel:     Hessian
Sound: “I’m sorry.”

This is a possible prayer to use during this season at the meal table or other times.

God calls us to say sorry for wrong doing.
God calls us to remember that he made us.
God calls us to remember his promises.
God calls us to live a new way,
not by might,
not by power,
but by faith…

App for Lent
The Anglican Board of Mission has a fantastic app that has a prayer, reflection and activity for every day of Lent.
For 2017, the reflection material is called “Into the Desert.” Download your free ABM Lent smartphone app here: www.abmission.org/apps

Further versions of related material can be found here: http://www.abmission.org/lent

 Service
There are many ways to entrench patterns of compassion, thoughtfulness and care for others into our family life.  Our children should have significant memories of kindness and generous acts of faithful serving.  These should be spontaneous as well as constructed events. Examples of this include:
Connecting with a local service [e.g. aged care home, meals on wheels, service for disabled, animal welfare league, local conservation group, rural fire brigade, S.E.S. etc etc] and volunteering as a family.

Family Time
Candlelight Talk
Turn off all the lights and sit with your family. Discuss what it might be like living in the dark. What might some of the problems be? Light a candle and talk about how one of the names for God is light. Ask, “What difference does lighting this candle make to our room?” Talk about the difference knowing God makes in your life. (From Adventures for Growing Families by Wes & Sheryl Haystead).

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

Friday, March 3, 2017

Family Resources for First Sunday in Lent


Appreciate every moment with your children.   Don't wish their childhood away.

One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car you drove, or what kind of house you lived in, or how many books you wrote, or what your clothes looked like.

But the world may be a little better because you were important in the life of a child.

Anon

Family Closeness
Game:
Alliteration
Pick a letter at random. Go around your family taking turns to say a different word beginning with that letter. Go around as many times as you can. Stop only when a word is repeated or you can’t think of any more.
(from New Games for Community by C. Gapes.)

Sharing:
Questions for stimulating discussion in your family.
  • What is the best thing and the worst thing that happened to you this week?
  • What is something that you might say thank you to God for this week?
  • What is one thing you think you are good at?
  • Tell each member of your family something you think they are good at.

Story
With your family read: Matthew 4.1-11
(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at http://www.sermons4kids.com/when_you_are_tempted.htm

Questions for Discussion:
  • What things tempt you the most? When is it hard to resist temptation?
  • What were the three things that the Devil wanted to tempt Jesus with?
  • How did Jesus respond to each temptation?
  • What can this teach us about how to respond when we are tempted?

Prayer and Celebration
We are now entering the Season of Lent, the forty days preceding Easter Day. This is traditionally a time of repentance (saying sorry and turning from sin). The resources for prayer and celebration for the next six weeks will focus on ways your family might “celebrate” well this season. Lent is a good time to focus on God’s care and provision and on our dependence on him, but also on saying sorry.

Why do we have “seasons” of the church year? In a wonderful way, they help us to tell more fully the story of faith, the story of Jesus. During Advent, we are alerted to the coming of Christ, not only as a baby 2000 years ago, but also in looking forward to his return. In Epiphany, we become aware of the presence of God in our world and the mission of Christ to proclaim the redeeming kingdom of God. This season, Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, forty days before Easter, focuses on repentance, turning from sin, turning from self-worship, remembering that God is our creator. Lent also focuses on the covenant or promises God has made with his people through the ages and now.

Lenten Thanksgiving Bowl

This week, place a bowl in the middle of your table. Place some blank strips of paper and a pen next to it. Each night spend some time writing things you would like to say thank you to God for. Place them in the bowl. Smaller children might like to draw pictures.

Prayers to use in Lent

Dear God,
thank you that your love
is deeper than the ocean
and bigger than the sky.
No matter what we do,
you still love us
and welcome us home.
Amen.

Dear God
Help us when we hurt.
Help us to know what to do.
Help us forgive.
Amen.

App for Lent
The Anglican Board of Mission has a fantastic app that has a prayer, reflection and activity for every day of Lent.
For 2017, the reflection material is called “Into the Desert.” Download your free ABM Lent smartphone app here: www.abmission.org/apps
Further versions of related material can be found here: http://www.abmission.org/lent

 Service
Anglican Board of Mission – Australia
One mission organisation in Australia that does fantastic work is ABM-A. Their vision statement is: ABM believes in a world where all people enjoy God's promise of love, hope and justice.Their website is worth checking out. In particular look in their resources menu under Lent. http://www.abmission.org

ABM-A has a Lenten Appeal every year.  This year they are supporting three different programs in Australia and overseas.

Family Time
Use an old newspapers to make costumes for your family. Have a fashion parade and take some photos. Make “formal dress” and wear them to the table for a special dinner.

[Having trouble playing?  When Jesus said we must change and become like children, he could have meant many things.  One of them surely is about playing.  Play is a serious way of being together and learning together.  This is the principle activity through which children learn and grow.  A corollary to that is laughter.  The God who brings laughter [see Sarah’s words in Genesis 21.6] speaks through Jesus and tells us to change and . . . play like children? So let go, have fun, and live life with enthusiasm!]

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning