This Fall's Free Resources!
Children's & Youth Discipleship
A Christmas "Advent"ure
This upcoming Advent Season, gather the kids and youth in your church with their
parents/caregivers for a daily celebration leading to Christmas! Each day offers us an
opportunity to read a Scripture, say a prayer, or do an activity below and add to your “Reverse
1 – Prep for the month ahead. As a family or individually (each child/youth) create a “Reverse Advent” basket in which you will deposit non-perishable food and/or personally hygiene items through the month to be donated after Christmas to a local food pantry.
2 – Make Christmas cards together and pray for the people you will be giving your cards to this Advent season.
Advent Week 1
3 – Make your First Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in purple and write the word “HOPE” on it. Create a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your first Advent Candle. The theme for this week is HOPE.
4– Read Luke: 1:26-38
5 – Pray this prayer together:
God of hope, who brought love into this world,
be the love that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought peace into this world,
be the peace that dwells between us.
God of hope, who brought joy into this world,
be the joy that dwells between us.
God of hope, the rock we stand upon,
be the center, the focus of our lives
always, and particularly this Advent time.
6 – Isaiah 7:10-14
7 – The Advent Theme for this week is Hope. What are some things your family hopes for?
8 – Read Isaiah 11:1-10
9 – Add items to your Reverse Advent box and deliver or send Christmas cards to your friends and family members.
Advent Week 2
10 . Make your Second Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in purple and write the word “LOVE” on it. Create a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your second Advent Candle. The theme for this week is LOVE.
11 - Read Micah 5:2
12. Read Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11
13. Read Isaiah 2:1-5
14. Pray this prayer together:
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the paths of thine Only-begotten Son:
that we may worthily serve thee with hearts purified by His coming: Who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen
15. Read Matthew 3:1-6
16. God is Love. Our theme for this week reminds of His great love for us. How do we show and experience God’s love? If you haven’t done so this week, add your items to the Reverse Advent box.
Advent Week 3
17. Make your Third Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in pink and write the word “JOY” on it. Create a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your third Advent Candle. The theme for this week is JOY.
18. Sing “Joy to the World” together as a family. Sing it as quiet as you can. Now, sing it as loud as you can! How does our family share JOY with others?
19. Read Isaiah 9:6-7
20. Read John 1:19-34
21. Pray this prayer together
We beseech thee to listen to our prayers, O Lord,
and by the grace of thy coming enlighten our darkened minds:
Thou who lives and reigns with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
22. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
23. Read Philippians 2:1-11
Advent Final Sunday
24. Make your Fourth Advent Candle. Use a paper towel or toilet paper roll as the candle. Wrap it or color it in purple and write the word “PEACE” on it. Create a “flame” using orange construction paper or just color one on white paper. Cut out and attach to the top with tape. You’ve just lit your fourth and final Advent Candle. The theme for this week is PEACE.
It’s Christmas Eve. Join your church or your family to celebrate Christ’s birth together. We talk about “passing the peace” which is extending to others the promise of peace we’ve been given. We say, “The peace of Christ be with you” and they reply “And also with you”. Try it tonight when you celebrate our Prince of Peace.
25 – Jesus has come!!
Read Luke 2 as a family as you finish this season of Advent. Consider these prayers that have been shared through church history as a way to culminate our Advent celebration God of love, Father of all, the darkness that covered the earth has given way to the bright dawn of your Word made flesh. Make us a people of this light. Make us faithful to your Word that we may bring your life to the waiting world. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (From The Roman Missal)
Let the just rejoice, for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice, For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice, For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice, for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice, For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice, For Jesus Christ is born. - St. Augustine of Hippo
Family Faith Formation
Perhaps you’ve been looking for a way to help household intentionally engage with one another around faith formation and Scripture this summer; if so, feel free to use the materials below!
Navigating the Holidays as Parents and Caregivers
A recent study by Pew Research has found that in nearly half of two-parent homes, both parents work full-time. That may be something that you or the families in your church have experience with and we might ask, “How does that affect the family?”
The same research found that:
Of full-time working parents, 39 percent of mothers and 50 percent of fathers say they feel as if they spend too little time with their children.
59% percent of full-time working mothers say they don’t have enough leisure time, and more than half of working fathers say the same.
56% percent of all working parents say the balancing act is difficult, and those who do are more likely to say that parenting is tiring and stressful, and less likely to find it always enjoyable and rewarding
One mother interviewed by the New York Times said this, “You basically just always feel like you’re doing a horrible job at everything. You’re not spending as much time with your baby as you want, you’re not doing the job you want to be doing at work, you’re not seeing your friends hardly ever.”
When we add in the holidays, and all the busy-ness that comes with these season, on top of an already full schedule and sense of failure…for many it is overwhelming.
And then, if we also consider the calling for parents to intentionally lead and disciple their kids at home, using this time of year to teach them about gratitude, serving others, compassion, self-sacrifice, and giving through things like serving at a mission or participating in a food drive or giving up presents…for many, it feels impossible.
May I offer some encouragement for parents and caregivers alike?
For a brief moment, before we are rushed headlong into this season, can we breathe in this small respite of grace?
We don’t have to do it all. We don’t have to do it perfectly. We don’t have to make all the best choices, provide the best experiences, or present the best opportunities. (deep breath)
But, if we can step back and before it all starts simply say, “Jesus, this year, with our family and our children, show us how to invite you into our everyday holiday season. In what we are already doing, show us how to have You be a part of it. Be present in our presence;” if we can do that, my bet is at least part of the weight will lift from our shoulders.
Some simple ideas, using those everyday moments from Deuteronomy 6:7 “when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” could transform your holiday season without you feeling like you do a “horrible job” at everything. Things like…
When you sit at home: Watching a Christmas movie and looking for Jesus in it, Wrapping gifts for family members and praying for each one while you do.
When you walk along the road: Listening to Christian Christmas Carols and asking what part of the Christmas story it was about, Looking at Christmas lights and talking about how Jesus is our Light, Handing out Blessings Bags to those in need.
When you lie down: Create a wall of blessing that you add to each night at bedtime (just tack up a piece of posterboard and let kids decorate with stickers, pictures, etc. and list the year’s blessings, one each night/week), Start reading the Christmas story on December 1 until Christmas Day, Add one ornament each Saturday night to the tree that has special meaning to your family.
When you rise: Use an Advent Calendar and open a door each morning before the day starts, Pray together for everyone you sent Christmas cards to (one person or family per morning/week), Put Christmas cards in your kids backpacks (you can get packs for $1 at Dollar Tree) with notes of blessing for them all season long.
The reality is that the holidays are coming, will come, and will pass.
Memories will be made. Life will happen. What January looks like for your family will in some way be dependent on what November and December looked like as they passed.
Don’t allow stress and shame steal the joy and opportunity of the season.
Realistically, no family can do it all. But realistically, we can all do something.
If we are unable to do all “the big things,” let’s invite Jesus into all the little things and embrace the celebration for His sake. It will look different for each home, as it should. But in each home, Christ desires to be the respite, the rest, the peace no matter what season it is.
The Intergenerational Gathering that is Thanksgiving
In November, families and friends across the United States will gather to share a meal, to enjoy one another’s presence and to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings we corporately and individually share.
Community, the gathering together of people, will be at the center of our celebrations.
Community is broadly defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common”. The design and make up of community is important to the functioning of society and the continuation of shared practices, traditions, and religion. Information is passed from one generation to another, from the older to the younger and vice versa, through interactions, relationships and communication.
Enter Thanksgiving. This is one of the only times in our modern society that we put a bunch of people of all ages and generations into one space and anticipate conversation with one another. And, let’s all be honest, even with family, it isn’t always easy.
But believe it or not, that’s not really the best thing for us to be comfortable around people the same age as us. Studies show that when we spend time only with people our age, that leads to isolation and loneliness and greatly inhibits socialization in kids and teens and legacy-leaving in older people. The norms and practices of one generation fail to get passed to the next generation and each generation is forced to create or find their own identity, including language and customs and behaviors.
Our community is no longer communal.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t gather.
Regardless of our discomfort, most of us will make an effort in November to step outside of our comfort zones and talk with people from varying generations and life experiences. We will swap stories, laugh at how things were, laugh at how things are and, if we are intentional about, we’ll probably learn something new about us and something new about others.
The church in Western culture has not been immune to the impact of age-segregation. Age-specific ministries, curriculum, worship experiences, and facilities can create environments that make it difficult if not impossible to form intergenerational connections and nurture ongoing relationships across generations. As in the larger society, experiences of isolation, loneliness, delayed socialization, and lack of generativity occur within the church.
Our faith community is no longer communal.
But that shouldn’t mean we don’t gather.
Regardless of our discomfort, it is important for us, as a community of believers to ask some questions. Questions like:
What is gained and lost in this process/journey by each generation when interaction and relationships with others is limited or not readily available in the church?
Since Christianity is primarily perpetuated through discipleship and mentorship, how have these practices been impacted by the lack of generational integration?
What would happen if we did gather, together, and give thanks on a consistent basis?
What stories could we stop, what laughter could we enjoy, and what can we learn about ourselves and others?
This Thanksgiving, as we grab that second helping of turkey, pause for a second and look at the people who surround us and give thanks for community and for the experience of being in it, even the uncomfortable bits.
Some ways to connect your Church
in community this Thanksgiving
Create a “Gratitude Tree” on a bulletin board near your sanctuary. Have paper cut out of colorful leaves and markers next to a “tree” with empty branches. Invite people to write down what they are thankful for and add their leaves to the tree to create a communal forest of thanksgiving.
Host a Thanksgiving meal. This shouldn’t be a replacement for the family gathering but a new twist on it such as, serving a meal to the community, having the youth cook and serve a meal for the congregation, “dinner church” where the congregation eats while engaging a guided discussion, or a “Meal on the Move” where members of the congregation host for different parts of the meal (appetizer, entrée, dessert).
Pack Blessings Bags Together. Blessings Bags are freezer bags full of nonperishable food and basic hygiene items that you can keep in your car and give to those you might see in need over the colder months. Gather items as a community and take a Sunday morning to pack the bags together as an act of thanksgiving and service.
1 Book - 1 Video - 1 Website - 1 Resource
All Ages Becoming edit by Valerie Grissom
Often, intergenerational initiatives are seen as the next new church trend, or another programming tool for church growth and revitalization. Ultimately, though, intergenerational is at the core of what it means for us to be the body of Christ. God intends for all ages to participate in faith formation together; we are formed in our practice of being intergenerational, as we participate in the formation of becoming God's people. All Ages Becoming brings theologians, practitioners, and ministry leaders, representing diverse denominations, generations, cultures, and geographical locations togethers to help us explore this adventure of intergenerational Christian practice.
The Church Calendar by the Anglican Church
We are getting ready to go into the next season of the church calendar (Advent) and the start of a new liturgical year. Exploring the history of the church and the story of Jesus through the celebration of the church calendar can offer us a deep connection to saints who have come before us and those all around the world who celebrate these things with us. This video is one of my favorites for sharing and understanding the calendar and our part in God’s story.
Buidling Faith, https://www.buildfaith.org/
Building Faith is a ministry of Lifelong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary. They publish theologically rich, practically oriented articles on Christian formation. Their mission is to equip and inspire churches and individuals for ministries of Christian education and faith formation for all ages. So many great resources here to connect generations in worship; check it out!
Seasons of Creation Intergenerational Curriculum
The new year will be upon us before you know it. This free (or donation if you like) curriculum offers a beautiful look at creation through all of its seasons and would be a perfect way to start the new year with your church, all generations together.
Check it out here https://intergen.org.au/product/seasonofcreation