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Easter@Home – Family Resources

Throughout Church history, families have joined together to commemorate and celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No holiday season is more central to our faith or more important to emphasize with the next generation. Too often, however, we forget to create and capture moments at home that could make the holiday more impactful.

STAND@Home has resources for your family with easy-to-implement ideas for each day from Palm Sunday to Easter. Take advantage of the links below and make this Easter a special time for remembering Christ’s death, burial and resurrection with your family.

Welcome Peace – Palm Sunday Family Discussion

Washing Feet – Family Activity

Praying for Unity – Family Activity and Devotional

Love your Enemy – Family Activity and Devotional

Remembering – Family Communion Devotional

The Day Death Died – A Good Friday Family Devo

I Will Wait – Holy Saturday Reflections

Resurrection Rolls – Celebrate the Resurrection

HOLY WEEK 2016

As you reflect on the days leading up to the resurrection, consider joining with other believers at one or more of these local events.

Wednesday, March 23
—Noon, Holy Week Service, First Christian Church
—6:30 p.m., Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community, Glenwood
—6:30 p.m., Strength for the Journey: A Study of Hebrews, Glenwood

Thursday, March 24
—Noon, Holy Week Service, First Christian Church
—6:00 p.m., Maundy Thursday Service, First Christian Church
—7:00 p.m., Maundy Thursday Service, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

Friday, March 25
—Noon, Holy Week Service, First Christian Church
—7:00 p.m., U2charist, First Christian Church
—7:00 p.m., Good Friday Service, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church

Saturday, March 26
—10:00 a.m., Easter Egg Hunt, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
—10:30 a.m., Easter Egg Hunt, Glenwood
—7:00 p.m., I Will Wait: A Taizé Service, Glenwood

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Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Advent – The Lighting of the Christ Candle: Our Waiting is Over!

The Lighting of the Christ Candle should be completed on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent. Also see the lighting of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Candle.

[Re-light the three purple candles and the pink candle]

We Celebrate the Birth of Christ

In the season of Advent we have used the Advent wreath and its candles to help us get ready for this great celebration of the birth of Christ.

When we lit the first purple candle, we asked God to come and be our Good Shepherd. God our Shepherd has come in Jesus Christ!

When we lit the second purple candle, we asked God to come and forgive our sins. God has come in Jesus Christ to take our sins and die upon the cross so that we might be redeemed!

When we lit the third, pink candle, we felt joyful even in our longing for Christ to come. Christ, who has been born in a manger, will come again in glory to wipe away every tear from our eyes!

When we lit the fourth candle, we remembered that Christ would come as a son – the son of Mary, the Son of David, and the Son of God! This Son has been born! He is Immanuel–God with us!

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Good Shepherd, Jesus who forgives our sins, Jesus who will come again, Jesus the son of Mary, the Son of David, and the very Son of God!

Prayer for God’s Help

Dear God, as we light the center candle today, may we celebrate with full joy the birth of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Amen!

Scripture Readings

Micah 5:1–5
God promises through the prophet Micah that his future rule will come from Bethlehem, even though this town is, indeed, a “little town” and quite insignificant.

Luke 2:1–20
Jesus the Messiah is born in Bethlehem!

Psalm 145
Let us join the psalmist in offering praise to God for his mighty works!

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the center, white candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle with great joy and celebration, because Christ is born in Bethlehem. God’s Son has come into the world to be our Savior! And he will come again in glory.

Prayer of Joy and Adoration

Dear God, as we light this candle, we rejoice in the birth of your Son. May we worship him, welcome him, and make room for him in our hearts. O come, let us adore him! Amen!

Closing Song

O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
O come let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

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Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Advent – The Lighting of the Fourth Candle: Waiting for the Son

The Lighting of the Fourth Candle should be completed on or around the Fourth Sunday of Advent. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent. Also see the lighting of the First, Second, and Third Candle.

[Re-light two purple candles and the pink candle.]

We Remember the Meaning of Advent

Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the Christian season of Advent, we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas. Our preparation includes many things:

• We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore.
• We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus.
• We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.
• We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.

By lighting one candle each week of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready for the birth of Jesus. So far we have lit three candles. The first reminded us to wait for God our Shepherd. With the second we asked the Lord to come and forgive our sins. The third, pink, candle signified our joy as we wait.

Today we focus on the coming of the Son–the son of Mary, the Son of God!

Prayer for God’s Help

Dear God, thank you for this season of Advent that helps us to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As we read the Bible and light a candle, may excitement for Christ’s coming burn in our hearts. Amen.

Scripture Readings

Psalm 89:1–4, 19-37, 46-52
This psalm celebrates God’s covenant with David and with the descendants of David. He even calls God “my Father” (vs. 26). But the psalmist composed this psalm at a time when God’s blessing upon Israel seemed very far away. He calls upon the Lord to remember his covenant to David.

Isaiah 9:1–7
Deliverance will come for God’s people through the “son” who is given to them. He will sit on the throne of David and his kingdom will last forever.

Luke 1:26–38
The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is pregnant and will give birth to a son. Her son will also be “the Son of the Most High” and will sit on the throne of David. He will be the reigning Son of David and the divine Son of God!

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the final purple candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle because we look forward with eagerness to the birth of a child, the son of Mary and the Son of God! The purple color reminds us of how serious we are in looking forward to the Son’s birth.

Prayer of Hope

Dear God, as we light this candle, we look ahead with hope to the birth of your Son — the Son of David, the son of Mary. May we be prepared to welcome him with open arms and open hearts. O come now, Son of David! Amen!

Closing Song

[To be sung to the tune of “O come let us adore him” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.”]

O come now, Son of David,
O come now, Son of David,
O come now, Son of David,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

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Family Activity Family Devo Resources

Advent – The Lighting of the Third Candle: Waiting with Joy

The Lighting of the Third Candle should be completed on or around the Third Sunday of Advent. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent. Also see the Lighting of the First Candle and the Lighting of the Second Candle.

[Re-light the first two purple candles]

We Remember the Meaning of Advent

Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the Christian season of Advent we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas. Our preparation includes many things:

• We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore.
• We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus.
• We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.
• We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.

By lighting one candle each week of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready for the birth of Jesus. So far we have lit two candles. The first helped us to hope for God our Shepherd; with the second we asked God to come and redeem our lives.

Today we remember the joy of waiting, because we know how the story ends!

Prayer for God’s Help

Dear God, thank you for this season of Advent that helps us to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As we read the Bible and light a candle, may excitement for Christ’s coming burn in our hearts. Amen.

Scripture Readings

Psalm 126:1–6
This psalm celebrates God’s restoration of Israel — and it cries out to God for future restoration.

Zephaniah 3:14–20
Through the prophet Zephaniah God looks ahead to the time when he will renew and heal his people. It will be a day of great rejoicing, both for them and for God!

Philippians 4:4–7
We also rejoice in the Lord, in part because we know that “the Lord is near.” This means, not only that God is with us right now, but that Christ is coming soon.

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the pink candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle because, like God’s people centuries ago, we know that God has come in Christ and that Christ will come again. We rejoice in God’s work in history and in the future. The pink color means joy!

Prayer of Hope

Dear God, as we light this candle, we rejoice. We know how the first act of the story ended – with the birth of Jesus the Messiah. And we know that he will come again in glory. So even though the story isn’t over, we rejoice in our hope. We wait for you, rejoicing! Amen!

Closing Song

[To be sung to the tune of “O come let us adore him” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.”]

We wait for you, rejoicing,
We wait for you, rejoicing,
We wait for you, rejoicing,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

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Advent – The Lighting of the Second Candle: Waiting for Redemption

The Lighting of the Second candle should be completed on or around the Second Sunday of Advent. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent. For the Lighting of the First candle please see our second post: Waiting for the Shepherd

[Re-light the first purple candle.]

We Remember the Meaning of Advent

Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the Christian season of Advent we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas. Our preparation includes many things:

• We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore.
• We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus.
• We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.
• We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.

By lighting one candle each week of Advent, we help ourselves to get ready for the birth of Jesus. Last week we lit a candle that signified our waiting for God our Shepherd.

Today we focus on the coming of Christ who brings redemption to the world.

Prayer for God’s Help

Dear God, thank you for this season of Advent that helps us to prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As we read the Bible and light a candle, may excitement for Christ’s coming burn in our hearts. Amen.

Scripture Readings

Psalm 130:1–8
In this psalm, we join the psalmist in crying out for God’s forgiveness and redemption.

Jeremiah 31:31–34
God promises to make a new covenant with us, in which our sins will be forgiven and forgotten.

Luke 1:68–79
When an angel appears to Zechariah in the temple and tells him that his wife will give birth to a son, the old man doesn’t believe the angel. As a result, Zechariah is unable to speak for many months, until immediately after the birth of his son John (the Baptist). Right after the birth, Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit and speaks the prophecy that we will read.

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the second purple candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle because, like God’s people centuries ago, we also need a Savior who will forgive our sins and redeem the world. The purple color reminds us of the seriousness of our sin and our great need for God’s redemption.

Prayer of Hope

Dear God, as we light this candle, we recognize our sin and our need for a savior. We wait for your redemption in Christ. We long to be purified so that we might present ourselves to you in righteousness. Come, Our Savior! Amen!

Closing Song

[To be sung to the tune of “O come let us adore him” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.”]

O come to us, redeem us,
O come to us, redeem us,
O come to us, redeem us,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

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Advent – The Lighting of the First Candle: Waiting for the Shepherd

The Lighting of the First candle should be completed on or around the First Sunday of Advent. For an introduction to Advent please see our first post: An Introduction to Advent.

We Remember the Meaning of Advent

[Note: Someone can read or paraphrase the following. Or you might want to discuss the meaning of Advent together.]

Advent is a word that means “coming” or “visit.” In the Christian season of Advent, we prepare for the “advent” of Christ at Christmas. Our preparation includes many things:

• We remember Israel’s hope for the coming of God’s Messiah to save, to forgive, and to restore.
• We remember our hope for the second coming of Jesus.
• We remember our need for a Savior to save us from our sins.
• We prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas into our world . . . and into our hearts.

By lighting one candle each week of Advent, we help ourselves get ready for the birth of Jesus. The candles have different meanings, each based upon the Bible. These meanings help us understand how special the birth of Jesus is for us.

Today we focus on the coming of Christ as our Shepherd.

Prayer for God’s Help

[This prayer can be read, or simply used as a model.]

Dear God, thank you for this season of Advent that helps us prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. As we read the Bible and light a candle, may excitement for Christ’s coming burn in our hearts. Amen.

Scripture Readings

[Parents, you may wish to abbreviate or eliminate certain readings depending on the age(s) of your child(ren). You may also want to read these selections out of a Children’s Bible.]

Psalm 80:1–7
In this Psalm, we join the people of Israel as they invite God their Shepherd to save and to restore them.

Isaiah 40:1–11
This passage looks ahead to the coming of the Lord, who will care for his people like a shepherd.

Revelation 7:9–17
Like God’s people before the coming of Christ, we also look ahead to the time when Christ, who is both the Lamb and our Shepherd, will finish his work and “God will wipe away every tear” from our eyes.

Lighting of the Candle

[As someone lights the first purple candle, the following should be read or paraphrased.]

We light this candle because, like God’s people centuries ago, we also look forward with hope to the coming of the Shepherd. The purple color of the candle reminds us of the seriousness of our hope.

Prayer of Hope

[To be read or paraphrased.]

Dear God, as we light this candle, we hope for your coming as our Good Shepherd. Please gather us in your arms, feed us with spiritual food, wipe away every tear from our eyes, and “let your face shine, that we may be saved.” Come, our Shepherd! Amen.

Closing Song

[To be sung to the tune of “O come let us adore him” from “O Come All Ye Faithful.”]

O come to us, our Shepherd,
O come to us, our Shepherd,
O come to us, our Shepherd,
Christ the Lord!

This Advent Devotional is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

 

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Introduction to Advent

Introduction

Advent is a season of waiting, expecting, and hoping. Beginning four weeks prior to Christmas and ending on Christmas Eve, Advent helps us prepare for the coming, or “advent” of the Christ child at Christmas. (The word “advent” comes from the Latin word that means “coming.”)

For hundreds of years, Christians have used an Advent wreath to inspire their hopes for the coming of Christ. By lighting candles and reading Bible verses, we are reminded about the meaning of Christ’s birth and become more excited about his coming in the past, in the future, and in our own lives.

There is no set meaning for the candles of the Advent wreath (except for the middle candle, which always signifies the birth of Jesus the Christ and is often called the Christ Candle). I (Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts) have been in churches where the candles point to peace, hope, joy, and love. In other settings they are identified with key figures in the stories of the birth of Jesus, such as the shepherds, the angels, Joseph, and Mary. I have used the main theme of waiting to give structure and meaning to the Advent candles, with each candle focused on different aspects of our waiting.

Advent wreaths employ candles with a variety of colors. Some wreaths use all white candles; others use three purple or blue candles, one pink candle, and one white candle in the middle. I (Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts) share an understanding of the Advent wreath with many Christians for whom the purple candles remind us of how serious and solemn God’s people have been in waiting for the Messiah. The pink signifies the joy of our waiting. The white is triumphant and celebrative because Christ is born. (If you prefer blue candles, that’s fine. When I say, “Light a purple candle,” you can translate that into “blue candle.”

Over the next several weeks we will be publishing a family guide that can accompany the lighting of the candles of the Advent wreath. (To have these guides sent straight to your inbox please sign up for the STAND@Home mailing list.) You can do this on your own with a real Advent wreath. Or you can use this guide with your family, which might certainly include close friends. All families are different, and we encourage you to adapt or to change what is suggested here . . . or do something completely original. Parents will want to make changes to fit the developmental stages of their children.

Speaking of children, they have great expectations and hopes during Advent – usually associated with Christmas presents, Santa Claus, holiday celebrations, and so forth. Rather than discouraging these hopes (which is a “hopeless” task!), I would urge parents to help their children get the “feel” of Advent by relating their hopes to biblical Advent themes.

This Advent Introduction is adapted from Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts Advent Devotional Guide.

 

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Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

Hungry, Hungry Thank You’s

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. We want to offer you a game to be more intentional with your family’s faith this holiday season. Start with this simple game designed to help younger children articulate giving thanks. This can be done during any mealtime the whole family is present.

  1. Gather the family together before sitting down for the meal to enjoy a game designed to emphasize why we give thanks.
  2. If you own the game “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” get it ready. If not, create your own version by placing about 20–30 marbles on a large paper plate or plastic tray. Give each player a spoon with which they will pick up the marbles.
  3. As the children anticipate starting the game, pause and invite the oldest child to read I Thessalonians 5:16–18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  4. Afterwards, ask the following questions:
    What is God’s will for us? (to give thanks)
    Why do we give thanks? (to experience joy)
  5. Tell the children that one of the most important ways we fill our hunger for joy is to give thanks for the blessings God has given.
  6. Now play several rounds of “Hungry, Hungry Hippo” or “Marbles and Spoons” where the children try to gobble or pick up as many as they can. The winner is the person who has the most marbles at the end of the round.
  7. Now, turn each child into a real “winner” by inviting them to share one thing for which they are thankful for each marble they retrieved. Emphasize that the more thanks we give the more our “joy tanks” fill up! Play as many rounds as you can until the meal is ready.
  8. Memorize together: “Giving Thanks—Fills Our Joy Tanks!”
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Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

Pumpkin Parable – A Halloween Family Devotional

Every year my wife buys pumpkins to decorate our front porch. Our girls always ask if we can carve the pumpkins but it seems like we never have time. The pumpkins usually get tossed in the trash sometime after Thanksgiving, never realizing their full potential.

This year we vowed to actually carve one, as our six year old insisted that she had never experienced a good ole fashion pumpkin carving. Last night we finally found the time and we sat out on our back porch and carved a pumpkin as a family. We enjoyed a fun evening filled with messy pumpkin insides, laughter, and a finished Jack-O-Lantern for our family to enjoy.

We also wanted to take the opportunity and use this time to teach our girls about God. Here is a great devotional that you can do with your family while turning that lonely little pumpkin sitting on your porch into something your family will be proud of. I hope you enjoy this devotional as much as our family did. More than anything, I hope you enjoy spending time with one another and being intentional about passing along your faith to your children!

Advance Preparation

Make sure you have the following on hand.
A large pumpkin and carving utensils
A small candle and matches
A Bible

Follow these steps for a great experience

1. Conduct a typical pumpkin carving activity, but use each step as part of the overall “pumpkin parable” by adding Bible reading and questions.

2. First, have the children help with the clean out portion of the carving – reaching their hand into the open pumpkin to pull out seeds and other “gunk” that will feel yucky to their hands.

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3. Pause to read Matthew 23:25-28 and ask the children how the inside “gunk” is like our sin (yucky, smelly, etc.).

4. Once you have cleaned out the pumpkin, read Revelation 3:20 together and explain that confessing our sins enables God to take away the “yuck” of our sinful hearts.

5. Now draw and carve a happy face (not a scary face) on the pumpkin. Then read 2 Corinthians 5:17 and/or Ephesians 2:10 and explain that Jesus wants to make us into a “new creation” – just as the pumpkin filled with yuck became a jack-o-lantern with a joy-filled face.

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6. Now read Matthew 5:14-16 while lighting and inserting a candle into the jack-o-lantern and turn down the lights to show how God wants to use us to shine His light, even on what is normally a dark and scary night.

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Family Activity Family Devo Family Discussion Resources

The Day Death Died – A Good Friday Family Devo

My oldest daughter is excited about missing school on Good Friday. In the car on the way to school she asked. “What is Good Friday?” I took the opportunity to briefly explain the significance of Good Friday and what it means for us as Christians, but I wasn’t satisfied with my short explanation. So I decided to do it right and plan a special Good Friday family devotional to further explain to both my children. Please feel free to take what I have prepared here and share it with your children.

Overview:

The action of Jesus dying on the cross is very complex. Sometimes I feel it is too complex for us humans (or at least myself) to fully understand everything that is going on at the cross. Instead of trying to explain it all in this family devotional—and thus lose my children in the process—I decided to focus on Jesus’ defeat of evil, powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15).

Most of us, including Jesus’ disciples, believe the way to defeat your enemies is to kill them before they can kill you. This is traditionally how battles are won. Jesus, however, didn’t do it that way. He taught the opposite telling us to love our enemies and pray for them. Jesus put this into action on the cross and submitted himself to death at the hands of his enemies. At the time, Jesus disciples (who thought a lot like we do) saw this as His, and their, own defeat. It was so backward to what they knew and understood that they couldn’t see until later how it was actually the defeat of evil and death itself.

Activity:

To explain this to your children lead them through this simple activity. Have everyone in your family take turns trying to trace the shape of a cross while only looking in a mirror. Place a picture of a cross on a table in front of a mirror. Ask one member of your family to trace the picture, while another member holds a folder above their hands so they can’t peek.

Supplies you will need:

  • A Mirror (We used a small decorative mirror that we propped up on our kitchen table. You can probably use your bathroom mirror and trace on top the bathroom counter.)
  • Markers
  • A folder or piece of cardboard about the size of a sheet of paper.
  • A print out of a cross Download one here
  • IMG_0485

    It is very difficult to trace the shape of the cross while only looking in the mirror. I asked both my girls to try while the other held the folder above their work. As they traced I heard my daughters saying things like “Am I going up or down?” and “I’m trying to think because the mirror is in reverse.” After they traced the cross in the mirror I gave them a different colored marker and asked them to trace the same cross without the folder blocking their view.

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    Lesson:

    After both my children had tried their best I began to explain Jesus’ actions on the cross.

    I Asked:

    What was hard about tracing the cross in the mirror?

    Which felt more natural, looking in the mirror, or looking directly at the paper?

    How do you win a battle against an enemy army?

    I then explained, the best I could, how what Jesus did on the cross was a lot like tracing in the mirror. It is backward from the way we think it should be. Typically battles are won by outlasting, or surviving longer than the enemy. If you want to win you have to kill them before they kill you. Jesus did it backwards, instead of killing his enemy, he allowed them to kill him first. The only difference is Jesus didn’t stay dead.

    I then asked:

    How hard do you think it would be to defeat an enemy that won’t stay dead?

    I explained that is how Jesus “disarmed” all the power in the world. Bad guys only have power over people because they can threaten to hurt or kill them. Through the cross and resurrection, Jesus took away their greatest weapon—the ability to kill. He even promised his followers would one day be resurrected just as he has been (1 Corinthians 15:12–32). This was the ultimate victory. How can you defeat an army that won’t stay dead?