Alleluia Butterflies – Activity for All Church Members

This Easter, we are asking congregation members of all ages to colour or make any kind of butterfly you wish over the course of the week to be ‘launched’ on Easter morning.

You have a whole week to do this assignment! You can make your butterflies as complicated or as simple as you wish – this should be a delight and not a chore.

You can download a butterfly colouring sheet off of Google images, find a butterfly craft on Pinterest, make a coffee filter butterfly held together with a clothes pin, paint, draw, whatever you’d like!

On Easter morning, hang up your butterflies in your windows for all the world to see. Take a picture of your butterfly display, and send them to Rev. Janet at minister@morningsidehighpark.com. We will post these on on the website so all can see.

When you take down their window display, please save your butterflies in a safe place until we are able to come to worship together again. As we arrive back together, we can continue to spread the joy of Easter!

Palm Sunday Morning Chapel For Young Families

Back when we were ‘young’ and ever-running on a motor of energy, Alex and I worked on staff at Camp Kintail.

One of the great ways that Camp Kintail is connecting with families right now is by sharing morning chapels called ‘Chapodcast’ from different camp families during the week. As ‘Crash and Zucchini,’ Alex and I led one on Palm Sunday.

Please join with your kids, sing along, and enjoy the story!

Chapodcast with Crash and Zucchini!

Ho-ho-ho-Hosanna! Join Crash and Zucchini as they share the story of Palm Sunday! Get your paper, markers, and coats ready so you can follow along! #chapodcast

Posted by Camp Kintail on Friday, April 3, 2020

P.S. If you notice the screen going a bit dark in the middle of the story, don’t worry! This is a technical glitch for “dramatic effect” 😉

Enjoy!

-Holly

 

 

Faith At Home Resources During Physical Distancing

 

Right now we are all being pulled in different directions, with so many new expectations from not only being a parent at home (which is hard enough!), but also an employee, teacher, entertainer, and public health educator. All in close quarters at home!

I would like to lift a burden off, and say that what you are doing is enough. We are all living day by day and trying the best we can. I could give you a flurry of devotionals, website links and daily emails but let’s be honest, we all don’t have the mental energy to process the additional flurry in our inbox.

With this in mind, I want to encourage you that the best faith-based activity you can do at home right now is to talk about faith with your kids. Small rituals like praying before a meal, singing a camp song together in the morning, or reflecting on what you’re thankful for before bed will go a long way. Rather than cramming in scheduled activities in Sunday morning with glue, glitter, and paint galore, a little bit of faith conversations each day will make all the difference.

A great example of this is a simple examen for the end of the day, using the pattern from Faith 5:

Share – your highs and lows of the day
Read – a Bible story or passage
Talk – about how that might relate to your highs and lows
Pray – for one another’s highs and lows
Bless – one another

Turn off the TV, phones and other technology and make a quiet space for your family to gather. Start with reflecting on your day. What were the highs and lows for each member of your family? Accept each person’s thoughts and express care for each answer given. Have a bible story ready to read. You might choose to read some of the post resurrection stories from the latter part of one of the gospels and/or from the book of Acts, or pick up a children’s bible story book such as the Spark Story Bible or Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible by Caldwell and Wehrheim and read together. You don’t need to make the story fit the highs and lows expressed earlier. Just carry on with your daily bible reading, talk about the story read, and let each family member draw their own connections with the story. Close with prayer inviting everyone to offer their own simple prayer for one another. Finally bless one another before heading off for a night’s rest.

 

Sparkhouse Sunday School At Home (For Younger Families)

Each week Sparkhouse, our sunday school curriculum provider, is providing families with content for continuing sunday school lessons in family form. You can find the updated lessons each week here.

 

Growing List of Free Resources for Home

 

Lenten Scriptures 2020

The scripture passages of our worship services in Lent can help us reflect upon and pray about how God gives and brings new life.

They are as follows and I pray we can all spend some time sitting with these words of life:

Lent 1, March 1st, 2020 –“New Life despite Temptation” (Matthew 4:1-11)
Lent 2, March 8th – “New Life despite Skepticism” (John 3:1-21)
Lent 3, March 15th – “New Life despite Dysfunction” (John 4:5-30)
Lent 4, March 22nd – “New Life overcomes Spiritual Blindness” (Matthew 23:1-28)
Lent 5, March 29th – “New Life despite Death” (John 11:17-44)
Palm Sunday, April 5 – “New Life in Humility” (Philippians 2:1-11)
Good Friday – “Temporary Defeat” (service based on the seven sayings from Jesus on the cross)
Easter Sunday – “New Life despite the Tomb” (Matthew 28:1-10)

Lenten Family Devotion Guide

Great thanks to Dr. Tori Smit, Regional Minister for Faith Formation in our synod for preparing this devotional guide for all ages.

Lent is one of the most special seasons of the church year. It follows the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany during which we anticipated and prepared for the birth of Jesus and welcomed him as God come to earth to be with us. In the season of Lent we travel with Jesus through his adult life as he teaches and reveals to us who God is and how much God loves us. As we will travel with the Jesus through the final days of his life on earth, his final teachings to his followers, his arrest, trial and crucifixion we will discover all that Jesus has done for us.

Attached you will find a Lenten Journey devotional booklet for adults and for families of all ages.

With this booklet participants will be invited to either read a scripture each day of the week, or young families will be invited to read approximately three bible stories from either the Spark Story Bible published by Sparkhouse or The Growing in God’s Love: A Story Bible edited by Elizabeth F. Caldwell and Carol H. Wehrheim. With each week there is also a weekly theme overview, a daily opening prayer, and a page with prompting questions to guide them in either journalling or colouring their responses to the stories they read. At the front of the booklet there are also instructions for making a Lenten garden with a covered tomb and paper whites. Beginning the garden in the first week of Lent promises a garden of flowers on Easter morning.

Please feel free to use the devotional booklet in your family, or pick up a copy in the Fellowship Hall at following worship. When you open the file it will look jumbled up. This is because the file has been saved as a document ready for you to print out and fold in half to create a 5 1/2″ X 8 1/2″ booklet. If you are printing one copy out for yourself, set your printer to double-side, short-edge binding. Fold the pages into a booklet and you will be ready to go!

FAMILY DEVOTION GUIDE PDF

Questions Kids Ask About Lent, Holy Week, and Easter – and How to Answer Them!

 Resource from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

What does the word “Lent” mean?

The word “Lent” comes from the Old English word lencten, which simply means “spring”—springtime! But since way more than a thousand years ago (in 800s), “Lent” has been used as the name of the church season that comes right before Easter.

How many days are in Lent?

Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter. The number 40 represents the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted after getting baptized in the Jordan River.

What is the first day of Lent called?

It is called Ash Wednesday, when some Christians have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross to remind them of Jesus’ death on the cross.

What is “Fat Tuesday”—is it part of Lent, and why is called “Fat”?

The day before Ash Wednesday, Fat Tuesday is not part of Lent. It’s called “Fat” because some people eat lots of rich, fatty foods on that day, since on the next day—Ash Wednesday—some Christians start fasting, like Jesus did during his 40 days in the desert.

What is “Palm Sunday” and why is it called “Palm” Sunday?

It’s what we call the Sunday before Easter. “Palm” Sunday remembers the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey and the people “paved” the road with palm branches to honor him—like when people today put down a red carpet for people to walk on to give them extra-special treatment.

When is “Holy Week,” and what does it mean?

The seven days before Easter, starting with Palm Sunday, are called Holy Week. The week is called “Holy” because it’s the week leading up to and including Jesus’ perfect sacrifice of himself on the cross.

What is Maundy Thursday?

It’s the Thursday before Easter—the Thursday of Holy Week, so it’s also called “Holy Thursday.” It helps us remember the “Last Supper,” when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his 12 disciples before he was crucified. At the Last Supper, Jesus started the practice of Communion when he gave them the bread and the wine.

But what does “Maundy” mean?

It comes from an old English word that means “command.” At the Last Supper, Jesus gave a new commandment to his disciples after he washed their feet (which was a job that even a servant wasn’t expected to do for anyone). Jesus’ new commandment was, “Love one another” (John 13:34).

Why do we call the next day “Good” Friday if that’s the day we remember that Jesus died?

Some people say that “good” used to be another way of saying “holy,” and Good Friday is the Friday of Holy Week—so it’s Holy Friday. Some people say that “Good Friday” used to be a way of saying “God’s” Friday. Either way, Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ goodness to us by dying for our sins so that we don’t have to. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep [that means us]…… No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again” (John 10:11, 18).

Is there a Holy Saturday?

Yes—it comes between Good Friday and Easter, and it’s on Holy Saturday that we especially remember Jesus’ lying in the tomb after he was crucified and died.

What does Easter celebrate?

Jesus’ resurrection—his rising from the dead, so that if we have faith in Jesus, we can have eternal life with him! In the Gospel of John Jesus also says: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

What date do we celebrate Easter on?

Easter is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the first day of spring—so the date of Easter changes every year, but it is always on a Sunday!

What do eggs have to do with Easter?

Eggs represent new life! In ancient times, they were used in celebrations of springtime, when nature springs back to life after the wintertime, just like we celebrate Jesus’ rising to new life on Easter Sunday in the early spring! Many Christians think of the egg’s hard shell as representing Jesus’ tomb, which was sealed shut, and they crack the Easter eggs to represent Jesus’ coming out of the tomb alive!

But bunny rabbits don’t lay eggs, so why is there an Easter Bunny?

The legend of the Easter Bunny started more than 500 years ago—probably because rabbits have lots of babies, so rabbits also became a symbol of new life, like eggs did even earlier. But we know the legend is just a made-up story because it says that the Easter Bunny not only decorates and hides the eggs but also lays the eggs!

Is the Easter Bunny supposed to live on Easter Island?

Actually, no. It’s only called “Easter” Island because the first visitor from Europe (he was a Dutch explorer who came there from the Netherlands almost 300 years ago)—he landed there on Easter Sunday in 1722. Easter Island is part of the country of Chile, in South America—but it’s way out in the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the most remote islands in the world. There’s no way the Easter Bunny could have hopped clear out there!

10 Ways To Help Your Family Grow in Faith

These 10 ways to help your family grow in faith were written by Faith Formation Ministries, which is a fantastic resource from the Christian Reformed Church in Canada:

For many Christian parents and caregivers, the idea of helping children grow in faith is intimidating. We ask ourselves questions like these: “What if I mess up and teach them something wrong?” “How can I do this when my own faith is wavering?” or “I didn’t grow up as a Christian. What if I don’t know enough?”

Before you do anything else, exhale. Family faith formation is a journey, not a destination, and growing in faith is an adventure, not a checklist. Along that journey there will be moments of discovery and joy, hard times, and times of confusion. But your guide on this adventure is none other than the Holy Spirit—so embrace the journey!

1. Be a Signpost

Your job as a Christian parent is to point your family toward God. Look for opportunities to do that in your daily life together. Whenever you see something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8), take special notice. Thank God together for that person, place, or thing.

2. Explore God’s Story

If it’s hard to gather the whole family for after-dinner devotions, find other ways and times to explore God’s story together. For example, pick up a pack of the excellent God’s Big Story cards (FaithAliveResources.org) and use them as discussion starters. Consider choosing, memorizing, and displaying a family “theme verse.” Or post a short passage on your refrigerator on Sunday morning, and then talk about it at the end of the week after you’ve had time to “live into it” together.

3. Share Your Stories

Sharing faith stories with family, friends, and church members is one of the best ways to grow in faith. To get the ball rolling, ask questions like these:

  • Where did you see God today?
  • Tell about a time when you felt that God was really close to you.
  • Tell about a turning point in your life and how God was involved.

4. Grow With God’s People

God created us as people who need community. Show your kids that the body of Christ is an important part of your life by spending time with other members of your faith family as you worship, serve, learn, and have fun together.

5. Find Your ‘Faithful Five’

Growing faith takes a village. Your extended family, your friends, and your church family can have a profound impact on your children’s faith. In fact, according to the folks at Fuller Youth Institute, the involvement of at least five non-family adults is key to kids’ faith formation. Who are (or who could be) your kids’ “faithful five”?

6. Celebrate Milestones

Baptisms, birthdays, graduations, and personal “firsts” are all milestones that families can mark together in ways that point to God. Gather for a prayer of thanks, and bless the person who has reached a milestone. Record the milestone in a family milestone journal or scrapbook along with photos. Give a special gift that commemorates the milestone. And have cake!

7. Reach Out

Becoming more like Jesus means weaving service and hospitality into your family life. Reach out beyond your usual social circle and open your doors and hearts to others. There are so many ways to do this! Volunteer together for people and causes you care about. Get to know the people in your neighborhood. Care for members of your church and community who are hurting. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

8. Take A Rest

God wants us to do his work in the world, but God also knows that rest is important for our physical and spiritual health. Develop some family Sabbath practices as you carve out regular time for rest and recreation. Worship together. Play together. Turn the technology off for a while. Go on a picnic. Read good books to each other. Recharge your batteries.

9. Stay Warm

“In a comprehensive study of relational dynamics in more than 300 families spanning 35 years, family warmth was more correlated with faith transmission than any other relational factor,” say the folks at the Fuller Youth Institute. Let your kids know that your family is a safe place where they are loved and where they can explore faith questions and doubts. No question or problem is too big for God or for your family to explore together.

10. Fill Your Toolbox

Whether you learn best by reading, listening, or doing, there are lots of great family faith formation resources out there, including books, podcasts, blogs, and parent groups. You’ll find many of them in the Family Faith Formation toolkit (crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits) and at tinyurl.com/FamilyFaithResources.

Advent Family Devotions

Dr. Tori Smit, Regional Minister for Faith Formation for our synod has graciously created and shared an Advent devotion booklet for families to use this season. These devotionals will be available in the Fellowship Hall following worship from now until Christmas. They are also available for download and printing at home here: Advent Devotional 2019

 

From Tori:

Advent is a time of waiting. Or, at least it’s supposed to be.

For many of us the simple act of waiting is frequently lost in the midst of the busyness of the season; there’s shopping and baking to be done, family visits and decorating that needs to happen, and the regular activities of our lives at school, at work and at home that need to carry on. In the midst of all of this there is also the desire to undertake a few Advent family activities that we can do at home such as special Advent devotions, Advent calendars, and Advent candle lighting. We know it is a good thing to do these things, but even the act of simply remembering to do them, and failing to do so some of the time, leaves us feeling more burdened then blessed during these days. How do we capture the season of waiting and anticipation for the birth of Jesus in the midst of all of this without feeling worse than when we started?

This year, instead of providing a family Advent devotional booklet for families to follow, I have instead created a booklet that keeps in mind the many obligations and commitments of families at this time. This year our Advent booklet instead focuses on the wonderful family activities we already do and enjoy. Each week there is one bible story to read together, using either the Spark Story Bible or scripture, followed by three suggested picture story books that are easily found at your local library, your church library, or Chapters/Indigo, and one family movie for your family to enjoy together. Each of the weekly stories from the bible come from the lectionary readings for that week and connect with the traditional themes of Advent, Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The suggested story books also reflect the weekly themes as does each of the family movies.

It is my hope that rather than feeling overwhelmed during Advent that your family will instead delight in the opportunity to read the stories at bedtime, or watch a family movie with a bowl of popcorn and some hot chocolate. Don’t feel obliged to do it all or find all of the story books; just do what fits in, is easily available, and allows your family to experience and talk about what it is you are waiting for.

For families who would like to print out this booklet, you will find it attached below through a dropbox link. When you open the link it will look a bit mixed up, as it is laid out ready to be printed and assembled into a booklet. Print out the document two-sided, with the short edge binding, and when it comes off your printer assemble the three pages together and then fold it in half. Now it will make sense and flow correctly through the weeks of Advent and Christmas.

Jesus is indeed coming! As we wait and anticipate this glorious day, may we all find precious time to contemplate what this means to each of us and to our world.

 

Family Thanksgiving Devotionals

We are richly blessed with the abundance God has given us!

This Thanksgiving, create small moments of gratitude by exploring short, daily devotionals around your dinner table. The devotionals will start Thanksgiving day, and end the following Sunday. For families with young children, we suggest reading a simple translation, such as the Good News Bible.

Devotional packages will be available in the Fellowship Hall following our Thanksgiving service. If you are unable to worship with us to pick up your package, here are the materials and instructions.

  1. Download and print the short daily devotionals.Thanksgiving Week Devotionals 2019
  2. Cut the devotionals into small pieces of paper, and wrap them up into scrolls with a sticker, ribbon, or elastic band.
  3. Label each devotional with the corresponding day.
  4. Place the scrolls in a bowl on your dinner table. Add a little pumpkin or decorations to help get you in the harvest spirit.
  5. Each day at dinner time, grab your Bible and that day’s scroll. Spend 5 minutes of your day reflecting on the verses in gratitude.

What a gift it is to gather at the table and create small moments of gratitude!