Sunday, December 4, 2011

Faithful Families Resources December 4 2011

Weekly Inspiration
"A parent's love is whole no matter how many times divided."  Robert Brault

Family Closeness
Mark One Minute
Everyone closes their eyes and must guess how long a minute is, by opening their eyes when they think a minute is up. Try playing this game using a piece of music. Did players guess a longer or shorter time for a minute? (Inspired by Christine Gapes. New Games for Community)

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:

  • What do you think of when you hear the word “Christmas’?
  • Because God  wanted us to know what He was like, He sent Jesus to be with us on earth. What was Jesus like when He lived on earth? How would you describe his actions? How did He help people learn about God? (Adventures for Growing Families. Wes & Sheryl Haystead)


Song Stories. A great way to explore the story of Christmas would be to listen to some Christmas Carols or hymns with your family. One option would be to listen and sing together and just enjoy the music and your family. Alternatively, listen very carefully to the words and to the feel of the song. Discuss what this particular carol is saying about the birth of Jesus. Are there any words or phrases that children don’t understand? Discuss what these might mean.

Pictures Stories. In this period as we move towards Christmas why not use art work to explore the story a Jesus birth. Apart from the many Christmas cards that you may receive the internet also provides a wealth of resources. If you go to you will find links to many depictions of the birth of Christ through the ages. Invite your family to choose their favourite picture and to describe what they like about it? Discuss the different pictures and what you find interesting in them. Get each member to draw their own nativity picture and explain it.

With your family read: Luke 1.39-56
Questions for Discussion:
Mary and Elizabeth were cousins. Mary was pregnant with Jesus and Mary with John the Baptist.
  • What did the unborn John the Baptist do when he heard Mary speak?
  • What happened to Elizabeth when this happened?

Mary is so overjoyed by Elizabeth’s response she almost breaks into poetry. This speech she gives we call “The Magnificat”
  • What are some of the things Mary’s says about God in this?
  • What do you know about John the Baptist and his role in Jesus life?

 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 9.13-35                       The Seventh Plague
Exodus 10.1-20                       The Eighth Plague                  
Exodus 10.21-29                     The Ninth Plague
Exodus 11.1-10                       Warning of the Final Plague
Exodus 12.1-28                       The Passover Instituted

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Here are a few quick ideas for serving your community during Advent.
  • Go through your cupboard and give some clothes to a charity.
  • Encourage your children to think of what toys they have that are still in good condition that they might give to a charity.
  • With your family choose a way to give a gift to a needy family. This may be best done through a registered charity or church. If you can make food donations take your children shopping to buy the food so they can actually see what it is they are giving. Some charities have schemes where people give gift-wrapped presents for children from needy families.

Family Time
Share the Joy. It is often difficult for parents to keep the focus of Christmas on the story of Jesus born into our world. Here are some ideas that might help you change the focus of Christmas and at the same time teach your children some valuable lessons in living the Christian life.
  • Each day choose a Christmas card you received. Put it in a central location such as your dining room table. Pray for the people who sent the card.
  • Make a special Christmas recipe to share with your neighbours. Include a card with pictures that tell about Jesus birth. (One easy recipe is for Rocky Road. Ingredients. 375g chocolate,100g mini marshmallows, 200g red & green glace cherries chopped. Slowly melt the choc. in the microwave on medium stirring every minute. Mix in mallows and cherries. Pour onto a paper lined baking tray. Refrigerate until firm.) 

(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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