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Remembering – Family Communion Devotional

The other day my wife and I were sorting through old family photos. We were mostly flipping though, hardly acknowledging any one photo. Everyone once in a while one or two photos would catch our eye demanding more attention. We would see a picture of our children many years younger, or the emotion of a major life event perfectly captured in an image, and we would stop. Held captive by something so powerful it made everything else fade to the background. In those moments, holding those pictures, we would do something very holy and sacred. We would remember.

C.S. Lewis has said “A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.” Remembering is more than just recalling. Remembering is an emotional event joyous and sad all at the same time. Remembering does something to the people who partake in it, and can even affect those who were not present at the original moment. This is most evident when you get around a bunch of friends and begin remembering together. Telling stories laughing, crying… remembering.

The night Jesus was betrayed he sat down to engage in this holy and sacred event with his closest friends. He and his disciples went into the upper room to celebrate Passover. For Jesus and his disciples it was more than just a meal and certainly more than a ritual. It was the equivalent to a box of old photos. Everything they ate and drank had memories associated with it. The Passover Feast was specifically designed by God to help the Israelites remember everything He had done for the them in the Exodus. It pointed back but, it also pointed forward to a time when God would deliver his people again from a far greater slave master—sin itself.

Activity

To illustrate this to your children and teenagers take them through a miniature Lord’s Supper. Purchase some grape juice and Matzo crackers from your local grocery store (both should be easy to find during the Passover season).

Communion-elements

Explain:

Jesus and his disciples ate and drank something very similar. Everything they ate and drank had meaning and helped them remember something specific about what God had done.

The Bread:

Ask your children if they notice anything different about the Matzo? How is it different from other bread we eat?

Explain how the Matzo is made without yeast. God commanded the Israelites to make bread without yeast because they were in a hurry. That night God would free them from slavery in Egypt and there was no time to allow traditional bread to rise. It was also symbolic. It was the last meal they would eat as slaves, and the first they would eat as free people.

As Jesus sat down with his disciples he broke the bread (Matzo), which signaled the beginning of the Passover celebration. He told his disciples, “This is my body that is broken for you.” Just like the Israelites, the breaking of Jesus’ body on the cross signaled the freedom from slavery to sin for all who believe.

In addition, the bread would have reminded the disciples of how God provided food for them in the wilderness, sending manna from heaven. The manna in the wilderness was more than just another meal. It was life saving—keeping the Israelites alive in the wilderness. God has provided for us in the same way by sending his Son from heaven to earth. Jesus even called himself the bread from heaven, linking himself to the manna. Just like the manna, Jesus saves our life and keeps us alive

The Cup:

Later in the Passover service Jesus took a cup of wine and blessed it. It was customary to pour out small amounts of wine on a plate remembering the 10 plagues. The plagues were a demonstration of God’s unparalleled power over all things. The disciples would have poured out a small amount of wine 10 times, remembering each of the 10 plagues. Jesus took that same cup of wine and said, “This is my blood that is poured out for many.” With this statement the cup was taking on a similar, yet new, meaning. God was, once again, showing his unparalleled power—this time over sin and death. It was the pouring out of Christ’s blood that ultimately defeated death and freed from the power of sin all who believe.

passover-children

Remembering:

The Passover meal was a meal designed for remembering. As Jesus and his disciples were remembering God’s saving actions from the Exodus, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” That night Judas would betray Jesus, setting in motion the new Exodus, God’s freeing of his people bound in slavery to sin.

Have your children eat the bread and drink the cup, and as they do ask them to remember the things God has done and is still doing for them. Encourage them to remember these things every time they take communion or see the bread and cup passed at church.

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Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

Love Your Enemy – Family Activity and Devotional

Take a few minutes at breakfast, dinner or bedtime to focus the family on one of the key principles from the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Read Matthew 22:47-54

 

While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd came up. They were led by Judas, one of the twelve apostles. He went over to Jesus and greeted him with a kiss. Jesus asked Judas, “Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ disciples saw what was about to happen, they asked, “Lord, should we attack them with a sword?” One of the disciples even struck at the high priest’s servant with his sword and cut off the servant’s right ear. “Enough of that!” Jesus said. Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed it.

Jesus spoke to the chief priests, the temple police, and the leaders who had come to arrest him. He said, “Why do you come out with swords and clubs and treat me like a criminal? I was with you every day in the temple, and you didn’t arrest me. But this is your time, and darkness is in control.” Jesus was arrested and led away to the house of the high priest, while Peter followed at a distance.

Jesus had every right to oppose His own arrest. He had done nothing wrong. On the contrary, He had healed the sick, raised the dead, loved the unlovable, and ushered in the kingdom of heaven. Those are very good things. When the disciple attacks the high priest’s servant we think he is acting completely normal for the circumstances. Jesus is the one who acts very abnormally by first healing the servant and then succumbing to the unlawful arrest. Even when Jesus is being treated wrongfully He continues to love, heal, and act in obedience with God’s will.

Discuss

Have you ever wanted to lash out at someone who was treating you wrongfully?

Have you ever followed through with your feelings?

Many times we believe that if we are wronged, we have the “right” to wrong that person back. That is not the way Jesus acted, however. He, in fact, acted in the exact opposite way that we would expect.

Why is it so hard for us to “be Jesus” to someone who has treated us badly?

Activity

Take this challenge as we continue to think about Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem, and the example that He sets for us by His actions. Think of someone who has treated you wrongly in the past days, weeks, or even months. Write their name on a piece of paper, along with the injury you suffered at their hands (“he lied to me about_________”, or “she said ___________ and that hurt me”, etc.). If you are doing this as a family or with some other Christians, share your hurts if you can. You don’t have to share because some hurts are just between you and God, but sharing helps you cleanse your heart of the hurt.

When you have done this, pray that God will allow you to forgive this person, cleanse your heart of resentment, and be able to move beyond the hurt.

Pray

God my Father, I have been hurt by , and I want to forgive. Please cleanse me of resentment, anger, and hate. Create in me a new heart. Help me to remember that is your child, and I should forgive like You do. Ease my pain. Help me to remember not to hurt others as I have been hurt. Thank You, Father, for forgiving me. Help me to be more like You.

Note: This has nothing to do with what the person did. It is all about your attitude and heart. You cannot change what happened. You cannot change the other person’s heart, actions, or attitude. You can only change yourself with God’s help.

Activity

After you have written this on the paper and prayed for this person, burn the paper. Put it in a safe container (preferably outside) and light it with a match. As the paper burns, imagine that hurt and resentment in your life burning with it. When the paper burns, it is gone forever. Ask God to take your resentment and hurt and anger out of your heart forever.

Note: If you are uncomfortable with burning, tear the paper into tiny pieces and flush it down the toilet. Don’t just throw it in the trash where it will remain as a reminder of your hurt. Get rid of it forever. (Don’t litter, however.)

Jesus did not stand up to, fight back against, or resist the evil that overcame the crowd in the garden. He healed those that would see Him killed. It is a difficult thing to be more like Jesus, yet God calls us to a life of peace and love even for our enemies.

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Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

Praying for Unity – Family Activity and Devotional

Take a few minutes at breakfast, dinner or bedtime to focus the family on one of the key events from the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

OVERVIEW

Jesus actually prayed for those of us who would believe in Him in the future. He asked His father to help us show unity by loving each other.

READ

John 17:20–23

I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me. (John 17:20–23 CEB)

ACTIVITY

Have each member of your family put the tips of both of their index fingers under the hula hoop (one finger tip if group is large). Lower the hoop to the floor without anyone’s finger tip breaking contact. All finger tips MUST be in contact with the hoop at all times. If anyone’s finger tip breaks contact, start over.

Hula Hoop Finger Lift
All you will need for this family activity is a hula hoop.

DISCUSS

What did it take to lower the hula hoop to the floor together without anyone breaking contact? (Possible answers: everyone working together, communication, listening, focusing on others, being unselfish, loving each other)
How can your family show love to each other in a way that pictures God’s love?
What does showing unity through love teach others about the nature of God?
(Couples: Read Ephesians 5:31–33 to reinforce how marriage is intended to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church.)

PRAY

“Lord Jesus, help our family to reflect the kind of selfless love you prayed for us. May the world believe in you because of the love they see in us. Amen.”

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Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Washing Feet – Family Activity and Devotional

The account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet is such a beautiful picture. May this lesson fully encourage you, parents and children. As a leader, Christ calls us to serve the least of these, and children need to see what humility looks like in adults.

The lesson that you are about to teach is very solemn. It would be helpful for the children to be calm before entering into the activity and reading. Also, the lesson itself does not need to be overly long; the activity speaks well without too much discussion.

Preparation:

Allow John 13:3–17 to wash over your heart; read it many times. Put yourself in the place of the disciples. Remember that Jesus is the Messiah, and he has come to love people. He came to give his life for us. He came to demonstrate his love for us through acts like washing feet, a servant’s job.

Bible Passage: John 13:3–5, 12-17
Target Age Group: all children
Memory Verse: Matthew 20:28—“

…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Lesson:

Say to the children something like this, preferably in your words:

Jesus came to show us how we should live. One of the lessons that Jesus wanted us to learn was how to be a servant to others. A servant is a person who does the work for another. When your mom or dad cooks you something to eat, they are being a loving servant for you; they don’t expect anything in return. Jesus likewise said to his disciples who desired to be great, “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 NIV).  [Jesus calls himself the Son of Man; his favorite title.]

Jesus wanted the disciples to know that being a servant is more important than gaining wealth, power, or position. A servant does not receive a lot of praise or credit; they work solely for the lives of others. Let us read how Jesus, who is a king, became a servant to show his love for his disciples and for us:

3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

***
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Jesus, like a servant, put on a towel to show the reason why he had come. Christ wanted his followers to know the importance of putting others above yourself. Likewise we are to do the same.

Washing Feet

There are two ways to practice the activity. One, only the parents wash feet. Two, if the children are old enough and mature, then they can wash each other’s feet. I highly recommend the first in most cases, unless you are confident in the ability of your children.

Purpose

The act of washing other people’s feet is an act of humility. There is nothing mystical about washing another’s feet, but it is a picture that can easily be stuck in the minds of those who participate. Hopefully, it will be a good picture that will forever be with them. Ultimately, there is a two-fold message (purpose) to be learned from this act: One, an example of humility for the children, and two, actual humility for the one washing. It is a lesson that speaks to the whole group.

Items needed:

Bucket
Wash cloth or sponge
Towel

Directions

Again, this is not a playful time; the design is to be reflective. Have the children, if possible, in chairs. It will be easier to wash if their feet are easily accessible. Remind your family why this is happening. Start washing the feet of those in your family and say to them while you dry their feet, “Jesus taught us to love one another by being a servant; ‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’” (Matt. 13:17). [Of course, it does not have to be this statement verbatim]. Another method is to wash one person’s feet, then they wash the next person’s feet, and so on…

Concluding Questions

What has Jesus taught us in today’s activity?
Why should we follow what Jesus did?
Why do you think Jesus came to serve?
Is it better to have wealth, power, and position, or to be a servant? Why?

Gospel Connection

Why do you think that Jesus said that he came to “give his life as a ransom for many”? What do you think that means?

Jesus came to give his life as a sacrifice to save others: us. Jesus set an example for us to follow; he showed us to be a servant for others. He also came that we may have eternal life. We must believe his message and believe God who sent Jesus.