Gather as a household. Share with one another where you saw or heard God today. Were those situations joyous or difficult?
Read John 12: 20-33.
For children: Have you ever seen a plant grow? Did you know that the seed that plants come from are technically dead? Seeds come from live plants and they are part of the plant that dies. Just left in the package all by themselves, nothing happens to them. But when they are given soil, water and sunlight what happens to them? They grow! But part of the plant had to die first. Jesus tells us that in order for us to grow sometimes we have to let another part of ourselves go. We might have to not always be first, or keep a toy to ourselves or help when we don’t feel like it. That’s what Jesus means by “losing your life” he means to think about other people first and you will change like the seed changes into a plant!
For youth/adults: When have you heard the voice of God in your life? Did you know that it was God right away or did you only recognize it afterwards? We might be a little squeamish about admitting that we have heard God’s voice as we can sound a bit unstable to the rest of the world, but God does still speak to us. Jesus even said that God spoke to the crowds not for Jesus’ sake but for them. God never leaves us alone and is always with us. Listen for God in your life today.
Another part of our Bible passage has to do with Jesus drawing all people to himself. We tend to think of Jesus dying on the cross about each of us individually, but what does it mean for us all to be caught up in Jesus arms? How does that change how you view your neighbor or coworker if they too are drawn to Jesus by Jesus? How do we treat each other differently if that were the case?
Find a bulb/seed and begin to grow a spring plant. When the plant is about ready to bloom, give it away to someone who could use the message of new life. Decorate the pot with symbols of spring and Easter. Write a card that prays for them to know the new life that God offers us all.
God of life, your voice still speaks to us, open our ears to hear you and our eyes to see your work in the world. May the new life that grows in us be shared with your world. May our whole lives serve you and your creation. In the name of your son who draws us all to him, Jesus, amen.
+Your life glorifies God+
When you are gathered with your household share with one another what gifts from God you see in them.
Read together Romans 12: 1-8
We are all interconnected through Christ Jesus and each of us has a place and a purpose in God’s family. We are not to be something that we are not but embrace who God created us to be and what it is that we are good at and are passionate about. Many times we think that our gifts don’t directly translate into something “religious” or “churchy.” But God created us for all types of vocation and avocation. Our response to God’s grace and love is that we use our gifts to the up building of God’s creation and people. Each aspect of our everyday lives is important and is in the love and mercy of God.
What are your gifts? What gifts do you see in each other? How can you use your gifts to reveal God’s love and grace in the world? What reminders can we give each other that each part of our day is sacred and part of God’s mission?
Thank you God for creating each of us with unique gifts. We want to use them to reveal your love and forgiveness in the world. May we support each other in using our gifts. We are grateful for the community that we live in and the people who walk with us in our faith journey. All of these things we pray in the name of your son, Jesus, amen.
+Be transformed in the love of Christ Jesus.+
Gather the household around the Christmas tree. Turn on the lights or light candles. Open with prayer: God of light, we gather to hear the promises of your love to us. May we walk in your light and share your light and love with your creation. In your son, the light of the world, Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Isaiah 9: 2-7. As it is being read have paper, pencils, colored pencils, crayons and markers available. Draw the images that Isaiah offers here as it is being read. Maybe read it through more than once.
For children: (Note: some of the images are hard in this passage. Yet, many of our children are exposed to images of war and destruction. This can be a good time to talk openly about those things.) God wants us all to live in peace. What does the word peace mean to you? What does peace look like? What would you say to God in a prayer for peace?
For youth/adults: The promise of prosperity and peace is the focus of this passage. Yet, we know that those things are elusive in our world and it’s easy to think that tangible, financial prosperity is the true meaning of these promises of God. But prosperity in that sense of the word for people means poverty for others. What do you think God’s prosperity looks like in the world? When is “enough” stuff “enough” for us? How can we participate in God’s promise of everyone living in peace and stability? How can we encourage our neighbor to thrive? In this season of gift giving how can we celebrate the joy in giving gifts (this is not a bad thing!) to loved ones and not get caught up in the extravagance?
A great way to give gifts and walk alongside a local or global neighbor is to contribute to a favorite charity in honor of that person. Make a fun card and attach a small ornament or piece of Christmas candy to the card. Or make some cookies or other treats for neighbors without family.
Dear God, your light shines on us and lifts our burdens. You offer us promises of new life, peace and justice. May we rejoice in the gift given to us, your Son who reveals your love for all creation. Amen.
(Make the sign of the cross on one another) May you walk in the light of God.
This passage in Luke is two parables about something being lost and found. This particular text lends itself to being acted out with younger children or youth. A short game you can play with young children to introduce the concepts is to play “hide and go seek” or to hide an object for them to find and bring to you. (You could even hide a coin or two!) Then read the story or act it out.
For children: Have you ever lost something special to you? What was it and did you find it again? If you didn’t find it how did you feel? If you did find it how did you feel? Have you ever been “lost” or separated from your mom or dad in a store? It’s kind of scary isn’t it? Your parents were so happy when they found you and I bet that you were happy too! Jesus tells us that God looks for us everywhere and all the time. There is nowhere that we can go that God won’t find us! No matter what we do or what we say God will find us and love us! God
For youth/adults: Sometimes it feels like we are so hidden from God that we can never be found. The alternative rock band Evanescence asks two questions in their song Tourniquet-“Do you remember me, lost for so long?” and “Am I too lost to be saved?”* Jesus offers these parables to give a resounding “YES!” to the first question and an equally forceful “NO!” to the second question. God searches for us high and low in order to bring restoration and grace to us. There is nothing that we have to do to receive this grace. The word “repent” in verses 7 and 10 is not about confession but is from the Greek word metanoia which means to turn around or to change one’s mind. God always offers us the opportunity to turn toward God-over and over again-every single day. How will you rejoice with God about this gift? How will you share this good news with someone in your daily life?
These parables highlight the importance of ALL people to God, especially those that are vulnerable in our society or culture. Contact a local Children’s Hospital or a local hospital that delivers babies and find out if there is any need for diapers, hats, layettes or blankets. See if you neighbors will help fill the need!
Dear Jesus, you search for us in places that we think we can’t be found. We want to turn to you and rejoice with you for loving us all. Amen.
(Make the sign of the cross on one another) God rejoices over you.
*This song is found on Evanescence’s album from 2003 Fallen. The official video can be found on YouTube.