Sunday, December 10, 2006

Family Activities for the Holiday

Family Activities for the Holiday
(Please note that each idea has a graded code at the end. P is for Preschool children, E is for Elementary children, T is for Teenagers, and A is for Adults.)

1. Using large sheets of paper, everyone in the family draws pictures of things they're thankful for. Keep the artwork for next year and display them
side by side. (PETA)

2. Create a Thankful Box, in which family members put slips of paper telling what they're thankful for. After dinner, read the papers out loud. (ETA)

3. Encourage each person to bring some special object to the table that represents what they are thankful for this year. Let each take a turn to share
their object and how it represents their thankfulness. (ETA)

4. Experience dinner together with only candlelight. Reflect on what it would be like to be without lighting, heat, shelter, etc. Spend some time
praying together, thanking God for all that you have, as well as praying for those in need this season. (PETA)

5. Write a card to someone you are especially thankful for. Be sure to allow time, material and stamps so this project will work. (PETA)

6. Read the Christmas story to your kids. Read Luke 1 & 2 (especially 1:26-38 & 2:1-39).

7. Light Advent Candles: visit blog entry below "Candle Lighting in Advent" for verses, readings and instructions.

8. Have everyone clean their room and storage spaces and select items to give away to someone(s) in need. Apply the rule, “if I haven’t used in the
past year…” (EVERYBODY)

9. As a family, select someone or a family that is experiencing need this Christmas. Brainstorm a way to give to them and then do it as a family.
(Examples: Help an elderly decorate their house. Shovel snow. Together, buy a gift or grocery’s for them.) (EVERYBODY)

Additional Ideas…

♣ Drive neighborhoods with Christmas lights on houses, bring along some hot cocoa or coffee in a thermos or stop by a Starbucks. Enjoy.

♣ Decorate a gingerbread house(s) as a family project. Even if you don’t “do crafts” the kids will appreciate and remember this one for a long time.
o Find a ready to make ginger bread house at a grocery store.
o If you’re gutsy and daring (and a cook) find recipes @ …
♣ Tell your children your family’s Christmas traditions. The funnier the better. The more serious the better. Start some of those traditions. Check out
some @
♣ Read the Christmas story to your kids. Read Luke 1 & 2 (especially 1:26-38 & 2:1-39). 

♣ Go to a Nursing home or visit someone who can’t get out and sing hymns and Christmas carols. You’ll often get more than you give.

♣ Build a fire outside and simply be and enjoy God’s creation. (EVERYBODY)

Need more ideas go to

Candle Lighting in Advent

First Sunday of Advent
Today we light the first candle of the Advent wreath. This is the candle of HOPE. 

With Christians around the world, we use this light to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

May we receive God’s light as we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah:
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness -- on them light has shined."
-- Isaiah 9:2

Let us pray:
Lord as we look to the birth of Jesus, grant that the light of your love for us will help us to become lights in the lives of those around us. Prepare our hearts for the joy and gladness of your coming, for Jesus is our hope.

Second Sunday of Advent
Today we relight the candle of HOPE. 

Now we light the candle for the second Sunday in Advent. This is the candle of PEACE. 

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus, we remember that Jesus is our hope and our peace. 

From the prophet Isaiah:
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
-- Isaiah 9:6-7

From the Gospel of John:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."
-- John 14:27

Let us pray:
Gracious God, Grant that we may find peace as we prepare for our Lord’s birth. May divisions in ourselves and in our families be peacefully resolved. May there be peace in our cities and in the countries of our world. Help us to see the paths of peace in our lives, and then give to us courage to follow them. Lord, let us remember that you only are the giver of lasting peace and that you are always with us.

Third Sunday of Advent
Today we relight the first two candles of the Advent wreath. The candle of HOPE and the candle of PEACE. 

Now we light the third candle of Advent. 

This is the candle of JOY. As the coming of Jesus, our Savior, draws nearer, our joy builds with our anticipation of his birth. 

From the Book of Isaiah we read the words of our Lord:
"But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight."
-- Isaiah 65:18

From the New Testament, the words of Paul to the people of the church at Galatia:
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit."
-- Galatians 5:22-25

Let us pray:
We joyfully praise you, O Lord, for the fulfillment of your promise of a Savior and what that means in our lives. Thank you for the gift of salvation through the birth of your son, Jesus. Create us anew as we wait, and help us to see your glory as you fill our lives with your living Spirit.

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today we relight the first three candles of the Advent Wreath -- the candles of HOPE, PEACE and JOY. 

Now we light the fourth candle of Advent. This is the candle of LOVE. 

Jesus demonstrated self-giving love in his ministry as the Good Shepherd. Advent is a time for kindness, thinking of others, and sharing with others. It is a time to love as God loved us by giving us his most precious gift. As God is love, let us be love also. 

In the Book of Deuteronomy we find these words:
"For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
-- Deuteronomy 10:17-19a

From the Gospel of John we hear:
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
-- John 13:34-35

Let us pray:
Teach us to love, O Lord. May we always remember to put you first as we follow Christ's footsteps, that we may know your love and show it in our lives. As we prepare for our celebration of Jesus' birth, also fill our hearts with love for the world, that all may know your love and the one whom you have sent, your son, our Savior.

December 24, 2004 -- CHRISTMAS EVE
On the eve of our Christmas celebration, Jesus’ birthday, we light all of the candles of the Advent wreath. 

First we light the candle for HOPE because Jesus is our hope. 

Second, we light the candle for PEACE because Jesus is our hope and peace. 

Third, we light the candle for JOY because Jesus brings joy. 

Fourth, we light the candle for LOVE because Jesus is love. 

Finally we light the center candle. This is the CHRIST candle. Jesus is born. Jesus has come. Jesus is our salvation. 

Let us pray: 
Great God of love and light, we thank you now for the light of that special star over two thousand years ago that guided humble shepherds and learned wise men to the holy babe. Lead us now, by the light of your love, that we also may follow you to new life in him. In celebration of the birthday of our King and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we pray.