On first glance, the readings today stirred up feelings of resistance, of judgement. After some thought, I realised my reaction was fuelled by my old, inaccurate image of God. The old man with a white beard who sits apart from humanity judging our actions and preparing punishments - a stingy God! I was shocked! I thought I'd thrown this false image out long ago. When we get distracted by busyness and pressures it’s all too easy to slip back to our old default settings. What a reminder for the start of advent!!! I sat down to reread the scriptures but this time I placed the image of a generous, healing, merciful God at the centre. I was amazed at how different my response was. God wants so much to be with us, God joins us as Jesus! We too have a deep longing to reciprocate that connection with God, but our desire can easily get lost in everyday tasks, stresses and busyness. This parable is shaking us out of our complacency, it’s trying to make us aware of the 'treadmill' on one hand, and of the counter-cultural depth of life available on the other! God wants to be in our everyday tasks with us. God constantly draws us into relationship. It’s not God that will leave us in the field or at the mill, it’s that we don’t recognise God standing there with arms outstretched!! We hear it all the time, but do we get that ‘Jesus is a game changer!”? Jesus undid the concept of sacrifice and replaced it with infinite grace. In the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ we received our salvation as a people … a whole people. Jesus was to be the last sacrifice and he plants us firmly in a religion of love! During this time of preparation can we stop focusing on our individual selves and trying to prove our worth? Can we be aware enough to join God in sharing this generous, merciful life that is offered, every moment of every day? At this time of the year consumerism may be the 'flood' that carries us away … be awake, be aware, be ready our salvation is nearer than we know!
It is important to support younger children in developing deep and consistent prayer lives. Help them know that God lovingly calls us into a personal relationship and always hears our prayers. God want to be part of EVERY aspect of our lives not just when things are difficult. Here are some fun ways to encourage you to be in relationship with God everyday and to bring all things to God in prayer.
Prayer Dice A prayer dice can be used as a quick and way to have prayer in the morning. Each side of the dice will have a word on it, for example, family, grandparent, animals, teachers, siblings, the environment, people who are sick, people who are lonely, pets or animals, your choice. Whatever the dice rolls on is what we pray for. At prayer time, maybe roll the dice 2 -3 times. Finish with a response e.g., “Merciful God hear our prayers”
Meditation Prayer Write down your own prayer or think about something you want to pray about. Go outside or find somewhere quiet at home and find a space on their own. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes. Get everyone to lay down on their backs and do a mediation type of prayer. Encourage stillness and a return to your prayer if your attention wanders, but leave space to just be in God's presence.
Prayer Ball Buy a small ball and write different things that you could use to spark prayer. Throw the ball to each other and stop every 5 passes. Wherever your thumb is pointing use that to create a prayer. Here are some examples of things you could use:
- Pop up and say one thing to praise God for something - Ask God to help someone who is sick - Shout out loud somewhere you can be like Jesus today - With a friend - Pray for a child who lives where there is war - ask God to help you cheer up someone who is feeling sad - Tell God about a fun day you have had and thank God for that day - what makes you sad? Why? Ask God for comfort - some children have no clean water , ask God to help them - pray for someone you have seen on TV - thank God for someone who is older than you - shout out the name of someone who helps you - put you left foot into the circle - then pray for those kids who don't have any shoes and warm clothes - pretend to swim around the room and prayer for those people who live on island effected by climate change - if you could email God .... what would you say? Tell God now. - with a friend pray for all the babies and mothers in the world - what is stopping you from helping others? Ask God to help you be brave! - What could you donate that someone else could use? Ask God to help you be more generous. - what is your favourite thing about God? Tell your friend - zoom around the room and tell God 3 people you are thankful for - stand like a tree and pray that we can be more careful with our environment - think of something you have done wrong. Silently tell God you are sorry. - make the sound of a lion or wild animal - thank God for the amazing creatures we share this planet with - find 3 people and tell each one something you are thankful for Prayer Marbles Choose between 3-5 marbles Take turns to put the marble into the box saying one thing that you are thankful for.
Prayer Book Writing down things you are thankful for to God for in the front of the journal. This can be family, friends, sky, grass, etc. anything that they love and appreciate about the world In the back things that you want to asking God about: for example, 'Loving God please stop hunger and war.' or 'God of miracles please heal my cat who is feeling sick.’
M&M Prayer 5 colours blue - family green - friends yellow - church red - people of other religions orange - leaders and teachers
The children get 3-5 m&m’s or counters which they have to pray for and take turn to share their prayers.
Prayerful playdoh Think of something in your life you are struggling with or having problems with. Use the dough to create an image that represents this. Are you make the image listen to what God might be saying to you about the situation. Have a discussion with God and allow it to move back and forth, from talking to listening. Once everyone has finished creating end the prayer with something like, God give us the courage to deal with things are Jesus would. Amen
Lego Prayer Choose a piece of lego Step 1: Hold your brick, pray for yourself. Thank God for the things you have been given. Ask God to bless you and to help you to bless others. Step 2: Count the bumps on your brick. For each bump on your brick, pray for a different person - friends or family members. Ask God to bless them this week. Step 3: Find someone in the group who has a different colour brick to you. Thank God for something about this person. This could be a trait, attribute or skill. Thank God for making each person special and unique. Pray that we will learn how to celebrate, understand and include people who are different to us. Step 4: Find someone with the same number of bumps on their brick as you. Thank God for families and friends and all who care for us. Ask God to help us to be make an effort to be friends with those who are lonely. Step 5: Swap your brick with someone. Thank God for the person you swapped with and ask God to bless them this week. Step 6: Put all the bricks together and build a structure or tower with them. Thank God for the church and the communities we live in. Pray that God will help us to include others and to help people know that they are loved and valued.
5 Finger Prayer To take home. Thumb – for the ones we love (our thumb is closest to us. 1st finger – for the teachers (this is our pointing finger) 2nd finger – for out leaders (this is the tallest finger) 3rd finger – for the sick and vulnerable (this is our weakest finger) 4th finger – for me THE PALM - Mother Earth who's future we hold in the palm of our hands.