Sunday, November 27, 2011

Faithful Families Resources November 27 2011

Weekly Inspiration
Mother Theresa reflects:
World peace begins in the home.  Once in a while we should ask ourselves several questions in order to guide our actions. We should ask questions like: Do I know the poor? Do I know, in the first place, the poor in my family, in my home, those who are closest to me - people who are poor, but not because they lack bread?

There are other types of poverty just as painful and no less real.
Perhaps what my husband or wife lacks, what my children lack, what my parents lack, what my siblings or friends lack, is not clothes or food. Perhaps they lack love, because I do not give it to them!
[Excerpt from Mother Teresa, 'In My Own Words', © 1997 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, London, Editor José Luis González-Balado]

Family Closeness
 Family members have a conversation where each sentence begins with the next letter of the alphabet. This may seem difficult at first, but improves with practice. If you get stuck, you can also use sounds to start a sentence, for example 'Mmmm' or 'tut-tut'. Here is an example (of a paired conversation):

A: Anyone seen my cat?
B: Black one, with funny eyes?
A: Can't say I remember.
B: Don't tell me you've forgotten what it looks like?
A: Every cat looks the same to me.
B: Fortunately, I found one yesterday
A: Gee, that's great!.

Sharing questions serve many purposes but basically they are about stimulating discussion so that you can listen to what is happening in your family’s life. It is also about getting to know your family better, connecting with them, discovering and exploring them. How often is it that we think we know our wife or husband or children or brother or sister…yet there is so much to still discover? Listening and being listened to is a profound experience for people of any age.
Sharing may be as long as you like but should not be an interrogation. You may not need any questions to have a great listening conversation with your family but do encourage everyone to participate, especially the youngest. Here are some ideas to get you going: 
  • If you could choose one day in your life to live over again what day would it be? Was it a good day or a bad day? Would you do anything differently? What is the best day you have ever had? Why did you like it so much? What activity do you like doing most in your week?
  • 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?
  • Can you remember a time when you were impatient while waiting for something? What was it? Why was waiting so hard? What do you hate waiting for? What is something you can do that makes waiting not so bad? 

This week we enter the first week in Advent, a time that is focussed on waiting with anticipation. We wait with anticipation for the return of Christ, we relive in our own lives the expectation of the birth of Christ and his birth in our own heart everyday. We wait with anticipation for the kingdom of God to be fulfilled on earth. You may wish to use an Advent wreath to help you celebrate this season. These can sometimes be bought or can be made by simply placing four candles in a circle with one in the middle. Surround the outer candles with green leaves (For Australia, Eucalyptus leaves would be wonderful, but keep them away from the flames). Light a candle for each of the four weeks of Advent, light the final candle on Christmas Day. Over the next few weeks we will provide readings to use with the lighting of each candle. Below in the prayer section are some prayers you might like to use to begin your scripture reading. Week 1 starts with Prophecy. It is important that children know that Christ’s birth was prophesied a long time before he came. His birth was planned by God. Here are some of the readings you might like to use: Isaiah 7.14, Isaiah 9.1-2, 6-7, Isaiah 52.13 – 53.12. These verses should be read with Matthew 1.18-24 which uses the same names that Jesus was to be called at his birth (The Contemporary English Version Bible (CEV)or the Good News Bible would be appropriate to use with children. Alternatively a children’s bible might be the best option as it may include pictures and is written in a form easier for children to understand.)

With your family read: Mark 1.1-8
Questions for Discussion:
  • Who is this book of Mark about? What does the first line say about him?
  • Where can the book of Isaiah be found in the Bible?
  • Why does Mark use the words of someone else to begin the story of Jesus?
  • What is John the Baptist like? How did people respond to him?
  • Who is the one coming who will be greater than John? 

Journey through the Bible
Journey through the Bible will provide five readings each week you can use in order to get a good overview of the full sweep of the story of God and His people. There are a variety of ways you might use these readings. As a parent you might read them to get a better understanding of how the divine drama unfolds. You could read them to your children and discuss them. Some are longer than others and might need to be broken up.

Exodus 8.1-15                         The Second Plague
Exodus 8.16-19                       The Third Plague                    
Exodus 8.20-32                       The Fourth Plague
Exodus 9.1-7                           The Fifth Plague
Exodus 9.8-12                         The Sixth Plague

Prayer and Celebration
Advent Prayer Pattern
This pattern may be used during Advent to begin meal times or to begin a family sharing time.
It may begin by asking everyone to quieten down and to think about what it means to wait and to think of one word to describe that feeling. During the prayer the leader is going to say: “Waiting feels like…” and each person will be free to speak her word aloud. Parents might need to help little ones with a word that describes the feeling of waiting.

1.        Music. Choose a piece of gentle music to listen to. Try some different pieces each time to try and find one that expresses a feeling of waiting.

2.        Prayer. All of us wait. Each day brings its own dose of waiting. We wait in the dentist’s office, at sports practice, at school, for parents and children, for brothers and sisters. We wait for dinner to be ready, for the refund, for the letter from a friend. We wait to be big enough to ride the roller coaster, old enough to stay up late, secure enough to be on our own. Our waiting feels like…(give people a chance to voice their feeling) Advent calls us to celebrate waiting. Each time we wait, help us to remember how the world waited for a saviour. Help us to remember we are always waiting for your return. Help us find and recognise you in each other. As we wait. We are Advent people.

3.        Lord, the N…family is waiting for you.
All: Come, Lord Jesus.

(Rituals and Icebreakers. Kathleen O’Connel Chesto.Ligouri)

Now is a great time of year, leading into Advent, to begin think about how you may serve those in need. Christmas can be a sad and lonely time of year for many people. How might your family serve Christ the King this Advent and Christmas, and make a different in people’s lives at the same time. Here are a few quick ideas.

Family Time
Are trips in the car a nightmare? Why not turn them into a family adventure. Here are a few ideas.

Semi Search. All you need is a sheet of paper to keep score, one person to be scorekeeper and a writing utensil. Each player chooses a colour. Each player's name and chosen colour is then written down on the score card by the score keeper, who will announce when there is a winner. Each player announces each semitrailer on the road that is his chosen colour. One mark, or point, is given for each semi the person identifies as his colour. The game can be played until one person reaches a certain number of points. Most people play Semi Search until one person reaches 50 points, but a longer game can be played for older children.

Traveling Bingo Bingo.Traveling Bingo Bingo cards will need to be made prior to the trip, but only take a few minutes to make. Be sure to make several sets to allow for more then one game of Car Bingo to be played, especially if travelling a long distance. To make the Bingo cards, draw five columns of five boxes centered on the paper. You can use coloured or white paper, whichever is more convenient. Over the top of each column, one letter per column, print the letters B-I-N-G-O. Next, draw or place stickers of various items that may be encountered along the trip. Some popular suggestions are cows, tractors, umbrellas, dogs, horses, sheep, barns, lawn furniture, radio or television towers, different colours and types of cars (such as a red truck or blue station wagon), police cars, ambulances or fire trucks. You want the children, and/or adults, playing to have to search for the objects. Each player is given one card and a writing utensil to mark their boxes. When an object on the card is identified, an "X" is marked on the box for the object. When a person completes a row (up, down, across or diagonal), he wins. The game can be played until one person wins two games, or if fewer people are playing, the first to win three out of five.

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

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