Advent Sunday: Christmas Eve

I am the Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

This last Advent Sensory Station focuses on sight. Jesus is the light of the world who pierces the “darkness covering the earth” (Is. 60). We see SO many new lights during Advent: candles, stringed lights, LED lights, colorful lights, etc…

In the Christmas story, we hear about more lights… glory that shone around the angels proclaiming the Good News to Shepherds in the field and a new star sent by God to lead the Magi. At church we break up the darkness by lighting a candle each week as we get closer to the arrival of the one who is the Light. In Godly Play we light a candle each week to remember that no matter where we go, God is there with us. During Advent,we talk about how sometimes the light changes, but it is always there.

All of these lights help us remember.

You can do so many things with light as a family. Go drive and look at lights. Light a candle in your home– God is there, too. Sit together by your tree light and read Isaiah 60 or the sermon passage from this week when Jesus calls himself THE Light.

God has given us senses to experience and delight in him. In all of them this Advent, remember the One who took on flesh and made a way for us to come to God and for God to come to us.

Please Note: There will be no Godly Play classes tonight on Christmas Eve. We encourage children to attend the entire service with their parent! We will also have nursery only the following Sunday (New Year’s Eve).

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Advent Sunday: December 17th

Advent IV: Wise Men

Memory Verse: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you… for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended. Isaiah 60: 1 and 20b

Summary: We are nearly to Christmas! This week’s lesson draws attention to the arrival of the Magi! Although we know the wise men were not there that actual day of Christ’s birth, we’re still focusing on them because they, too, were on their way to Christ! Even the nations come to Jesus. And God led them there with what Godly Play refers to as the “wild star”.

Follow Up Questions: I wonder if you have ever learned about something wonderful? I wonder what the Magi felt when they saw the new, wild star? I wonder what made the Magi want to spend such a long time traveling to meet this King? I wonder if you’ve ever had to travel a long time for something? I wonder what it means to traveling toward Jesus now…didn’t he already come? I wonder why we talk so much about who all was present for the birth of Christ?

Additional Follow Up: Today’s Advent Sensory Station is about smell. In January we will review the Wise Men again in Godly Play and have the opportunity to smell Frankincense & Myrrh! Perhaps for now you can go around your home this week and sniff for the seasonal smells… pine, cinnamon, nutmeg, rosemary, cedar, cloves, oranges, sugar cookies, etc. Maybe you have some spices similar to those from the Ancient Near East. What do those smells make you feel or think of? I wonder what smells were there the night Christ was born? I wonder what God wants us to know about him with our noses?

Please Note: There will be no Godly Play classes next week on Christmas Eve. We encourage children to attend the entire service with their parent! However, there will be a sensory station connected to the sermon. I’d also encourage you to read the Scriptural account of the birth of Christ at home as a family. If you have a nativity set children area allowed to play with, even better!

Advent Sunday: December 10th

Godly Play will not meet on Christmas Eve Sunday. We started this four part series on 11/26 in order to receive the whole story before Christmas. Therefore, even though this is only the second week of Advent, we are on Advent lesson III.

ADVENT

The season of Advent is a time set aside 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. This helps us learn to look for his second coming. The Godly Play lessons during these four weeks of waiting and watching will reflect on the parties important to the birth of Christ.

Advent III: The Shepherds

Memory Verse: And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10-11

Summary: We are continuing to prepare for the mystery of Christmas through Advent stories. This week’s lesson draws attention to the shepherds. The goal of taking time to concentrate on each party engaged in Christ’s birth is so that the kids can come as close as they can to the beauty of the Incarnation. We want them to consider every angle possible… and marvel!

Follow Up Questions: I wonder if you have ever been heard something wonderful? I wonder what the shepherds felt when they saw the angels? I wonder what made the shepherds want to tell people all they’d heard concerning Jesus? 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: This week we talk about the tastes of Advent at our sensory station. What are some special foods your family eats during this season? Are they sweet or savory? Are there any you had as a child that you can tell your children about? I wonder why we have special treats during Advent and Christmas? I wonder what it is like to wait for them all year? I wonder where we see special meals at church? I wonder what Jesus meant when he said “I am the Bread of Life”? How does taste help us remember Jesus?

You can also review together those passages from Luke that depict the shepherds. It might help answer wondering questions if you wanted to look up pictures of shepherds in those days and ask questions like: What did they do? Look like? Dress like? I wonder what they ate? I wonder why God wanted them to bear witness to the birth of Christ?

Advent Sunday: December 3rd

Godly Play will not meet on Christmas Eve Sunday. Therefore, even though Advent officially begins THIS Sunday, 12/3, we started this four part series on 11/26 in order to receive the whole story before Christmas.

ADVENT

The season of Advent is a time set aside 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. This helps us learn to look for his second coming. The Godly Play lessons during these four weeks of waiting and watching will reflect on the parties important to the birth of Christ.

Advent II: Mary and Joseph

Memory Verse: And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  Luke 2: 4-6

Summary: We are continuing to prepare for the Mystery of Christmas through Advent stories. Last week, the lesson focused on the prophets. This week’s lesson draws attention to Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem. The goal of taking time to concentrate on each type of person present at the birth of Christ is so that the kids can come as close as they can to the beauty of the Incarnation. We want them to consider every angle possible… and marvel at it!

Follow Up Questions: I wonder if you have ever been full of something wonderful? I wonder what Mary and Joseph were thinking about as they traveled to Bethlehem? I wonder what you think they talked about? I wonder what Mary and Joseph felt after walking and riding for so many miles? 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: At our Advent Sensory Station this week, we talk about touch. Think of what our feet might touch on the way to something. What were the things Mary and Joseph felt? Maybe they felt dust on their feet? A chilly night air? A hot sun by day?

This might be a good time to read passages with your child from the Gospels about Jesus’s parents (the Annunciation, Mary visiting Elizabeth, Joseph stopped from divorcing Mary, etc). You could talk about the journey they took… they were on their way to Bethlehem to have the Way.  That is a wonderful mystery.

Ordinary Time: November 26th

All Godly Play Classes will start our Advent series this week. Godly Play will not meet on Christmas Eve Sunday. Therefore, even though Advent officially begins NEXT Sunday, 12/3, we are beginning this four part series today in order to receive the whole story before Christmas.

ADVENT

The season of Advent is a time set aside 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. This helps us learn to look for his second coming. The Godly Play lessons during these four weeks of waiting and watching will reflect on the parties important to the birth of Christ.

Advent I: The Prophets

Summary: 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!

I Wonder…: 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?

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 last year, don’t forget to start your tree on Sunday, 12/3!

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 hope? 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! And save the date for our own Advent Hymn Sing, December 21st.

Ordinary Time: November 19

GP I: Ark and Temple

Passage: O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth- you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 2 Chronicles 6:14

Summary: This week’s lesson continues to address the presence of God with the Israelites. Our focus is on the building of the temple as a dwelling place for God. Remember, last week’s important phrase was, “God made a way for the people to come near.” You kids will build upon that idea with questions about God’s special presence in the temple as well as that his presence cannot be contained in one place. How’s that for something to wrestle with?!

Wondering: I wonder what you remember from the temple? I wonder what King Solomon meant when he said God was too big to be contained in one place? I wonder where God lives now?

Additional Follow-Up: Look up pictures of the temple (then and now). You can explain to your children that it was destroyed, rebuilt, then destroyed again so now all we have are ruins of the temple. Jesus talks about himself as the temple. I wonder what he means?

GP II: Story of Elijah

Passage: Answer me, Oh Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again. Kings 18:37

Summary: This week we hear the story of Elijah. Elijah challenged the kings of Israel for their idolatry and immorality. He encountered prophets of the idol, Baal, and advised the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel to repent. He was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind! You can find his account in I and II Kings.

Something interesting to note is that all of our prophet stories begin with something like this: “A prophet is a person chosen by God to take a message to His people. Sometimes people do not like hearing what the prophet has to say.  They become angry at the prophet. It is not easy being a prophet.”

Wondering: I wonder what it was like to be Elijah? I wonder why he ran to a cave after defeating the prophets of Baal? I wonder what God wanted the people to hear from Elijah? I wonder if we left out part of the story if we’d have all we needed?

Family Follow-Up: A great resource for you parents is from Richard Pratt’s study of Prophets. Look HERE and HERE for a study guide and set of videos about the prophets. Points Pratt makes about prophets during the time of the Israelite monarchy are that God sent prophets to the kings of Israel to make sure they were obedient to the law of Moses. The prophets were witnesses against the disobedience of kings and those who followed them.

This would be an interesting follow-up with your child after the lesson. Over the week read the account of Elijah from I and II Kings together. Then ask questions like, “I wonder how Ahab and Jezebel were disobeying God?”, “I wonder what was it like for Elijah to tell the truth to people who were not obeying God?” or “I wonder why it was so important that Elijah warn Ahab about his disobedience?” Hopefully questions like that could provide areas of exploration for your children when they encounter stories about prophets.

GP III: The Prophets
Passage: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me, one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2

Summary: This lesson is an overview of some of the Old Testament prophets. Here is a part of what your children will hear…”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 Follow-Up: Did you get a prophet flashcard game last year? Want one? You can use it to help with identifying which prophets said what. Your child may not have heard all of the stories yet, 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.

Ordinary Time: November 12th

GP I: Ark and Tent

Memory Verse: Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Psalm 90:1

Summary: This week’s lesson focuses on the presence of God with the Israelites. God would not leave His people as they wandered nor as they entered the Promise Land, even when they doubted and sinned. But how will He make his presence known? The Israelites were afraid to approach him at Mt. Sinai, but He is also too holy to be addressed in an ordinary way. Your children will discuss the way God commanded Moses and the Israelites to set up the tabernacle in order to have His presence. An important phrase repeated in this lesson is, “God made a way for the people to come near.”

I Wonder…:  I wonder how we are near to God? I wonder how we know? I wonder how God makes a way for his people to come near? I wonder how He makes a way for us to come close to Him?

Additional Follow-up: See if your child can remember the parts of the tent. Light some incense (or a candle) and wonder what it smelled like in the tent.

GP II: Story of David

Memory Verse: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Summary: This week’s lesson gives an overview of the story of David. It begins with David as a shepherd and continues through his life, highlighting some parts of his story such as the battle with Goliath and murder of Uriah. One theme presented to the children is that though David was not a perfect king, he was repentant and asked for God’s forgiveness. And God was always faithful to forgive him.

I wonder…: I wonder what it was like to be the king of Israel? I wonder what it means to be a man after God’s own heart? I wonder what part of the story you remember most?

Additional Follow-Up: This week’s lesson covers a lot of ground. You might enjoy re-reading the parts of David’s story that are most interesting to your child. You can find David’s stories in 1 Samuel 16-31, 2 Samuel 7 1 Kings 1-2. Our memory verse is from Psalm 51, which was written by David after his affair with Bathsheba. If your child is reading, you can help him/ her look through the bible to find which Psalms were written by David.

Godly Play II: The Story of Ruth

Passage: Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer! Ruth 4:14a

Summary: This week’s lesson is the story of Ruth. When Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, are widowed and left to starve, God reveals how He is at work on behalf of His people. This story is much less about a romantic encounter nestled in between rocky times of the judges, and much more about the welcoming of a courageous Moabite woman into the family of God.

I wonder…: I wonder what Naomi and Ruth thought would happen to them? I wonder how they felt about going back home? I wonder what Ruth thought when she decided to take care of her mother-in-law? I wonder what she meant when she said “your God will be my God.” I wonder what the most important part of the story is?

Additional Follow-Up: This week’s lesson is quite short. It might be a good time to read the story of Ruth together at home. Another idea for home is to talk about what it means to be a widow or to be unable to have children today (both here and around the world).