First Sunday of Advent: November 27th

ADVENT

This week begins the season of Advent, a special time in the church calendar for members to prepare themselves to engage the mystery of the Incarnation. Advent helps teach us what it means to long and wait for the arrival of Jesus. Rather than rushing through the holiday season, Christians slow down to remember and receive the promise of full redemption and rejoice in the hope of Christ.

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Beulah Land: Esther

Who knows if you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Esther 4:14b

Summary: Beulah Land will continue Old Testament character study until Christmas Sunday. This week’s story is an overview of the book of Esther. We will incorporate our Advent Spiral each week. It depicts a figure on a donkey coming closer to Bethlehem (the center) each week as we come closer to Christmas day. It looks like this:

This is from A Holy Experience. We use one very similar.
This is from A Holy Experience. We use one very similar.

Follow Up Questions: I wonder why Mordecai would not bow down to Haman? I wonder how Esther came to be so brave? I wonder where God is in this story?

Additional Followup: Make an advent wreath together! Or put out 4 candles and light one each Sunday of Advent. Check out the RMC Kids Advent pinterest page for more ideas. If you participated in the Jesse Tree Ornament Swap, don’t forget to start your tree today!

Parents, where do you long for Christ’s presence to be known in your family? What needs to be disrupted in your daily routine to make space for this child? What would you really be anticipating if you took away all of the Christmas rushing? Ask God: What does it mean that you are Emmanuel, “Christ with us”?

Hymn of the Month: This is the last week for the first verse of Be Thou My Vision! We will begin a new one in December. Check out THIS SITE to singalong.

Godly Play I & II: Advent Prophets

Memory Verse: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots, a branch will bear fruit. Isaiah 11:1

Summary: The Godly Play lessons during these four weeks reflect on the parties present at the birth of Christ. Today’s lesson focuses on the Prophets who foretold the Incarnation.  It is different from other Godly Play lessons because there are no wondering questions at the end. The reason for this is to heighten the mystery of Christmas as we build up to THE DAY we have been waiting for!

Follow Up Questions: I wonder what the prophets thought was going to happen in Bethlehem? I wonder what it was like to wait for so long for some thing to happen? I wonder if you remember anything from the stories of prophets that might be about Christ? I wonder if you’ve ever had to wait a long time for something? I wonder what it means to be waiting for Jesus now…didn’t he already come?

Additional Follow Up: Make an advent wreath together! Or put out 4 candles and light one each Sunday of Advent. Check out the RMC Kids Advent pinterest page for more ideas. If you participated in the Jesse Tree Ornament Swap, don’t forget to start your tree today!

Parents, where do you long for Christ’s presence to be known in your family? What needs to be disrupted in your daily routine to make space for this child? What would you really be anticipating if you took away all of the Christmas rushing? Ask God: What does it mean that you are Emmanuel, “Christ with us”?

Music: Don’t forget our beloved Rain for Roots’ Waiting Songs Album! Another great one for this time is Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb  (this concert will be in town on December 9th!)

Ordinary Time: Sunday, November 20

Beulah Land: Elijah
O Lord, God of Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel!                        I Kings 18:36

Summary: Today’s story is about the prophet Elijah. It is an overview of his ministry that includes his encounter with the widow, the false prophets of Baal and the whisper of God’s presence. It is also about how Elijah called God’s people away from their sins and carelessness to repentance and obedience. You can find these accounts in I Kings 17-19 and II Kings 2.

Wondering: I wonder why the people stopped believing God’s promises? I wonder why Elijah went out to the desert and holy mountain? I wonder why God sent Elijah to tell His people a message?

Family Followup: Re-read the story together at home from your bible. The Beulah Land curriculum suggests inserting dramatic reading in the part where Elijah encounters God in a small, still whisper. When you read about the earthquake, have your child stomp his/her feet. When you read about the wind, have him/her blow or make swooshing sounds. When you read about the fire, have them wave something red or their arms like flames. Then when you get to the whisper, lower your voice and whisper.

Hymn of the Month: Our November hymn of the month is Be Thou My Vision. We will start with the first verse for now. Find the song HERE to practice at home!

Godly Play I: Story of Isaiah
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will            bear fruit. — Isaiah 11:1

Summary: This week’s story is about the prophet Isaiah. It will cover the entire book, highlighting some particular prophesies. God sent messages through him to warn the people of judgment through exile and assure them of future restoration after the exile. Like all prophets, we see Christ anticipated. One way we see this in Isaiah is with “respect to Isaiah’s servant motif” (Reformation Study Bible). Jesus fulfilled several of these including being a light to the Gentiles (49:1-7), by bringing justice to the nations (42:1-4) and take away the sins of the elect (52:13-53:12).

Wondering: I wonder what it was like to be Isaiah? I wonder why he was afraid when he saw God and thought he was not good enough to be near God? I wonder what it was like for Isaiah to know about the future exile? I wonder why he told people to make a garment of splendor to go back home in?

Family Followup: I specifically picked Isaiah for this class during this last week of Ordinary time. We use so many references to Christ from Isaiah during the Advent and Christmas season. You can try to sing THIS song from the Rain for Roots Waiting Songs album. You can also try to use the prophets flashcard game again!

Godly Play II: Story of Job

I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he shall stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.  Job 19:25-26

Summary: This week, we turn our attention from the prophets to Job. Job is a very early Old Testament writing that address some major themes like suffering and the mystery of God’s presence. As we prepare to enter Advent next week, I wonder what Job has to teach children about pain, sorrow and how it brings us to God’s presence?

Wondering: I wonder what it was like to be Job? I wonder what it was like to have everything taken from you? I wonder what it was like for Job to hear his friends tell him he did something wrong when he didn’t? I wonder what it was like for Job to meet God in the middle of so much suffering? I wonder if it is enough to know God when we are hurting?

Family Followup: This can be a difficult story for children (and adults!). It addresses the concepts of deep suffering and faith. It is hard to understand why God allowed, and allows, pain and sorrow. Talk to your child about what they experience and see others experience as sorrow. Explore where God is when we hurt. Pray for insight for you and your child. HERE is a recent sermon if you’d like to hear more.

Ordinary Time: Sunday, November 13th

Beulah Land: David
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts. Psalm 28:7a

Summary: Today’s story is about David defeating Goliath. It is a fun telling complete with wondering about how TALL Goliath was and how BIG his feet were and how WIDE his shield was! All confronted by the sure faith of a shepherd boy who is appalled that anyone, large or small, would dare mock the living God. Indeed, it is by the power of God that the weak and seemingly foolish shame the strong. This story may be found in 1 Samuel 9, 16-17.

Wondering: I wonder if David was afraid of the giant? I wonder if the giant was afraid of David? I wonder what it is like to “trust the Lord with joy”? I wonder if this story reminds you of any other story?

Family Followup: Re-read the story together at home from your bible. This would be an interesting account to imagine together. Draw a picture of the giant and David. Talk about strength being found in the Lord rather than size. Please note, this is a big concept for 3-year-olds to grasp. Big = strong in their minds (and in their reality for a bigger person could literally pick them up and move them!). What a thing to wonder for them… and what a thing for us adults to remember. Even the smallest are important to God.

Hymn of the Month: Our November hymn of the month is Be Thou My Vision. We will start with the first verse for now. Find the song HERE to practice at home!

Godly Play I: Prophets
Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24

Summary: This lesson is an introduction to lessons about the prophets. From Godly Play…”Sometimes the people of God forget who they are. They hide from God, and pretend God isn’t there. Sometimes they even worship other gods. There are also people God spoke to. These people are called prophets. They tell people what God wants His people to know.”

Wondering: I wonder what is important about the prophets? I wonder what it was like to give messages to God’s people? I wonder why the people of God did not always stay close to God? I wonder what God wanted His people to know?

Family Followup: Use the prophet flashcard game! Your child may not know all of the symbols (since their class did not cover all of the prophets this year) but it’s fine to go ahead and begin to learn about them! They’ll get those stories as they go through Godly Play over the next few years.

Godly Play II: Daniel

God reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. Daniel 2:22

Note: This is our sixth week studying a prophet in GP II. From Godly Play notes… “In Jeremiah 18:18, the people say that priests teach and wise men give advice, but the prophet speaks the “word” or message of God. A secular messenger of those times, who spoke on behalf of a king, used traditional messenger-speech, first naming the one spoken for, then using the first-person voice to recite the message. Prophet spoke the same way: they identified themselves as speaking for God, then spoke “with God’s voice” on behalf of God to the audience God had chosen for the message.”

Summary: This week’s story is about the prophet Daniel. He was a prophet to God’s people while they were in exile in Babylon. Daniel happened to be placed in the king’s court because of his God-granted abilities to interpret dreams and visions. Despite persecution by the Babylonians, Daniel was faithful to God and sharing the messages God gave him.

Wondering: I wonder what it was like to be Daniel? I wonder what it was like to see visions from God? I wonder what it was like to tell the Babylonians messages from God when he knew they would be angry with him? I wonder what it was like for Daniel to be in the lion’s den?

Family Followup: Review the Prophets Flashcard Game at home! You can also read from the book of Daniel. The most popular story about Daniel is his encounter with the lion’s den, but there are several more important parts of his story such as faithfulness to God, courage that comes from God, and the promise of being God’s people forever.

Ordinary Time: Sunday, November 6th

Beulah Land: Samuel
Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!” 1 Samuel 3:10b

Summary: Today’s story is about Samuel. Like other stories sprinkled throughout Scripture, we begin with barrenness and end up with a blessing from God. Children will hear about Samuel’s call to serve the Living God.

Wondering: I wonder why Hannah wanted to take Samuel to live in the tent of the Lord? I wonder if Samuel wanted to live there? I wonder what it was like for Samuel to hear God calling his name? I wonder if you have heard God call your name?

Family Followup: Re-read the story together at home from your bible. Have your child pretend to be Samuel and re-enact God calling him/her.

Hymn of the Month: Today we begin a new hymn of the month! It is Be Thou My Vision. Find the song HERE to practice at home!

Godly Play I: Jonah
I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land. Jonah 1:9

Summary: This week our younger Godly Play children join the older Godly Play class in turning their attention to the prophets as we get ready to enter the season of Advent. Today’s story is that of Jonah. When Jonah disobeys God and does everything wrong, God still uses him to extend mercy to other nations…including Nineveh, a bitter enemy of Israel.

Wondering: I wonder what made Jonah not want to go to Nineveh? I wonder what he felt when a big fish swallowed him? I wonder what he thought when God spared Nineveh because they repented? I wonder if we are ever like Jonah? I wonder if you have heard another story about a storm on the water while a man sleeps in the boat? What is different in that story?

Family Followup: Use the prophet flashcard game! Your child may not know all of the symbols (since their class did not cover all of the prophets this year) but it’s fine to go ahead and begin to learn about them! They’ll get those stories as they go through Godly Play over the next few years.

Interesting to note: Jonah is read during the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It is a reminder that no one is beyond God’s hand of mercy and that His mercy awaits those who repent whole-heartedly. In addition, Jesus compares his ministry to Jonah. What parallels do you see between the two?

Godly Play II: Ezekiel

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Note: This is our fifth week studying a prophet in GP II. This might be a good time to explore patterns and themes with your children. What were typical messages the prophets delivered? What did God ask of his people? What were consequences of their actions? How did God remain faithful to his people despite their disobedience?

Summary: This week’s story is about the prophet Ezekiel. He was a prophet to God’s people while they were in exile in Babylon. He had several visions from God to relay to the people. As the storyteller discusses each vision, she will lay a symbol out to represent that vision. The completed story looks something like this (check out those dry bones!):

ezekiel

Wondering: I wonder what it was like to be Ezekiel? I wonder what it was like to see visions from God? I wonder what it was like to tell the people God’s messages?

Family Followup: Review the Prophets Flashcard Game at home! You can also read from the book of Ezekiel and look for God’s faithfulness to his covenant with Israel. Despite being in exile and seeing Jerusalem destroyed, God also promised to breathe new life into dry bones and restore the city.