We’re Going To Bethlehem!

We’re going to Bethlehem…Bethlehem, Georgia, that is! At our October children’s ministry networking luncheon, Kate suggested we partner with one another and take older elementary students to Bethlehem for Christmas. Bethlehem United Methodist Church presents a live nativity in downtown Bethlehem each year, so we are travelling to Bethlehem on the Friday before Christmas!

Each church has promoted it among their own, secured or are sharing transportation, picked up glow necklaces, and ordered tshirts for everyone: Christmas green with white print…United Methodist Church logo of cross and flame on the front pocket…”Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15 on the back. We wanted something that could be worn beyond the Advent season.

The plan is to leave our churches early Friday afternoon and meet up at Fort Yargo State Park just outside of Bethlehem, Georgia for hiking, playing, snacks, and putt putt golf. $60 reserved a covered pavilion to share with $5 parking per vehicle. This gave us a great first destination to meet up not knowing what holiday traffic in Atlanta would look like.

After contacting the fabulous Children’s Ministry Lead there, we have all been invited for a hotdog dinner at the beautiful Bethlehem United Methodist Church. We’ll play get-acquainted games, share some table-life, then all head to the live nativity together for the 7pm presentation.

With Chick-Fil-A around the corner, the plan is to stop for ice cream before heading home.

I love the creative connection of our Children’s Ministry teams! Ever been to Bethlehem for Christmas?

“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:15

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‘Twas The Evening of Christmas: A Book Review and Giveaway

Ever gotten your hands on a book with so many possibilities it got hold of your heart? Well, that’s exactly what happened the first time I laid eyes on Glenys Nellist’s new book ’Twas The Evening of Christmas. Glenys Nellist, an English gal engaged in fabulous ministry with children in Michigan, is a grandmother, a mom to four young men, and Coordinator of Children’s Ministry for the West Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. Glenys has written several children’s books based on scripture. Her books fill my shelves because her words in rhyme make the Bible sing.

A poem published anonymously in 1823 as A Visit From St. Nicholas, is affectionately known by it’s first line, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. In 1837, Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership. Glenys wrote the birth story of Jesus with this cadence and rhythm. She has a true gift of poetry, especially using child-friendly phrases that children (and I) love.

I got my hands on this book in October, just as I was planning the Kids and Candles Christmas Eve service. The very next day I was joining a team of long-time children’s ministry folk and the book made its way around the table in no time. Since then, several of us have collaborated on the many ways we’ve incorporated it into our advent events and Christmas Eve.

Glenys shared 3 of her top ideas to use ‘Twas The Evening of Christmas in the classroom is 1) Students act out the story as a narrator reads, 2) Read aloud in a service with images shown on the big screen (permission can be obtained from Zonderkidz), and 3) Make it interactive by reading each stanza, but omit the last word and have kids fill in the missing rhyme. We are doing #2 with a spontaneous nativity as children come forward with various headpieces as shepherds, angels, stable animals on Christmas Eve. I shared the story at our Preschool last week as the Mystery Reader with idea #3. The children LOVED it!

Elena Selivanova has illustrated this book with great beauty and uncluttered images. The focus is on the baby and isn’t that the way it should be? I especially loved the way Elena depicts Mary always looking at Baby Jesus and the eyes of the shepherds as the angels come to bring the good news of His birth.

I’ve already ordered several copies TWICE, and am giving them as gifts this season. What’s next? Glenys will be adding to her Love Letter series with Easter Love Letters From God to be published January 30th. Just in time for Lent! This latest book in the Love Letter series has seven stories with seven lift-the-flap love letters from God, beginning with the ride into Jerusalem and ending with the resurrection.

I’m thrilled to share as part of this blog post, Zondervan is providing a free book giveaway of ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas! Comment below with your favorite part of the Christmas story and you’ll be entered to win. The winner will be announced next week! (This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, who have a physical street address…no PO boxes).

“As Mary and Joseph got ready for bed, they snuggled their baby and kissed his sweet head.” – Glenys Nellist, ‘Twas The Evening Of Christmas

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

Gingerbread Nativities

Little people can make the traditional Christmas season gingerbread house OR we can get our “Jesus is the reason for the season” on and do a little something different: edible nativities aka gingerbread nativities.

The base is important, so line a deep-dish paper plate with foil to keep the ‘hay’ in place.

Prepare the stable using the graham crackers and the frosting onto the foil-lined plate using craft sticks. Be generous with the frosting and it should harden well for the little people to continue to decorate without fear the thing will collapse. In my new church, I have a dear friend who is helping me set up with homemade, edible ‘paste’ after church, but before the grand event this week.

Must-haves for decorating: M&Ms/Skittles (pop of color), pretzel sticks, animal crackers, and the Pepperidge Farm People cookies (found ours at Publix). Leftover candy from the fall festival is good place to start. This year I’ll also pick up fruit tape and chocolate chips, raisins, and anything else that would make for a fun stable. When all the decorating is finished, top it off with a good crunching of a Shredded Wheat bar over it all for hay. Then all goes home in a 2.5-gallon Ziploc bag.

Christmas Bible Question: According to the Bible, what animals were in the stable the night Jesus was born? Answer: No animals are listed in Luke 2.

This station will be one part of our Kids Family Christmas Party this Sunday.  There will be chili Fritos, T-shirt shaped Christmas cookies, games, and a tacky Christmas T-shirt/Sweater contest.

“You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” Psalm 128:2

Worship History In The Making

A couple of Sundays ago, I attended the soft opening of a new worship service which will fully launch on Easter Sunday, 2018. Like a new pair of shoes, it fit, but it felt awkward. It felt just enough different/new to let me know this may take some getting used to.

I’ve never been one with expectations for worship. I’ve never understood those who insist worship has to be a certain way. Liking all kinds of music, offering the tithe in all kinds of receptacles (once in a kiddie pool), prayers, and greeting folks with a smile or a handshake, a well communicated Bible-based message, these are staples to every worship service I’ve been part of. All that happened. Which is why I can’t even explain why it felt awkward.

The space is unfamiliar. The order of service is unfamiliar. The sights and sounds are unfamiliar. The people we seek to reach may be unfamiliar, too. That’s the most exciting part for me. My role? To offer support and resource the children’s experience so that it jives with the new service, yet still has the level of excellence and enough shared DNA to know we are all part of the same family of faith of the local church I serve. The opportunity to collaborate with lots of voices makes me downright giddy!

What will the new, Sunday, 1pm service truly look like, sound like, smell like, and feel like come Easter Sunday 2018? I have no idea. But I get a front row seat in the movement of the Holy Spirit. I’ve met and begun to share life with both the clergy and the laity called to champion this endeavor. I think about it a lot, which prompts me to pray through my jumbled thoughts. That’s a good thing.  This I do know: I have been invited into history…a remarkable and sacred moment in the life of the local church family I now call home. I’m excited about it! Stay tuned. Or better yet, will you pray with us as we answer God’s call to reach the world with the love of Jesus…even if it’s in MY awkward-unfamiliar?

“But I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
    who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
    directing them through unknown country.
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
    make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
    sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.” Isaiah 42:16, The Message
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Kay’s Thanksgiving Routine

We moved to New England 25 years ago the first week of November. I had never lived north of I-10 and was truly a southern fish out of warm water. Family staples like grits, Jimmy Dean pork sausage with sage, Rotel tomatoes, and Duke’s mayonnaise were not to be found. This young mama was just trying to feed her babies!

Three weeks in and it was Thanksgiving. My mom had her hands full when we were younger and I don’t recall a Thanksgiving meal being prepared. Most of our holiday family traditions came from my step-mother, Ms. Bobi. She could set a feast on a table like nobody I’d ever known and use every pan in the cabinet to do it. Sweet memories of all the women folk cleaning up and belting out “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” So, breakfast with cheese-eggs, bacon, and blueberry muffins I could pull off without a problem. But it was my mother-in-law who taught me the most important part of Thanksgiving: How to have everything ready and on the table at the same time. A quick phone call on our first New England Thanksgiving morning, I wrote it down as she dictated to me Kay’s Thanksgiving Routine.

Depending on what time everything needed to be finished and ready for the table, the day begins with the pie. Really!  The pumpkin pie sets the day in motion. All the details of rubbing oil and sage all over the Butterball to the gravy from the pan drippings are written down. Kay’s Whittlesey family of independent women also had a dressing they prepared with white bread, sausage, apples, and sage. It’s lethal, but oh, so delicious.  It took me about three years to perfect it. My hand-written notes get pulled out each year and I still hear her voice. Oh, how I miss her.

Yesterday I was texting with a friend and I shared that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Food and family are the only expectations around a table that is set with my mother-in-law’s china that just so happens to match mine. Interesting, she was with me when I picked it out. As the day goes on and the number around our table increases, I tell the stories of the china, those cold days in New England, and the silver pieces. Family history around the table. Many recipes pulled out for this day written in the handwriting of so many who have gone on to Glory.

Sally Clarkson writes in The Life Giving Table Experience, “The story of our family has been written at tables. Not with pen and paper, but with words and people, food and fellowship, talk and time. When we sit at our tables, we’re not just an aggregate of individual family members eating and drinking to stay alive; we’re a congregation of communing souls hungering and thirsting to experience the goodness and beauty of the life God has designed just for us. It’s not just about the physical act of eating, but about sharing and enjoying life as God designed and gave it to us. That is the essence of the lifegiving table.”

May your table give life this Thanksgiving and the Lord find us faithful to give thanks for those who set the table before us.

“She has set her table.” Proverbs 9:2b International Children’s Bible

Star Follower

Movies are the one thing that can give my brain a reset because I get all involved in the story. When I got the evite to attend a preview showing of an animated story of the Baby Jesus, I was all in. As I registered for tickets, I was encouraged to bring kids. So I met the grands and their sweet Mama at The Varsity for dinner and we settled in for their first theater movie.

Sony Pictures Animation has a winner here. The story of the first Christmas is told from the animals’ perspective. Once Bo (short for Boaz) is befriended by newlyweds Mary and Joseph (six months into the pregnancy) the story moves quickly. Bo’s sidekick is Dave, a dove with lofty aspirations. Bo and Dave dream of joining a royal caravan, but when they see that Mary is in danger of a big meaner with two angry dogs, they head to Bethlehem to warn her. On the journey to Bethlehem they team up with Ruth, a loveable sheep who has lost her flock, as she knows there is something special about that bright star in the night sky. So much so that Ruth is now a lone sheep far from her flock.

Snippets of subtle Christmas music is throughout the story. The animation prompts me to want to touch the screen because it. is. beautiful. The fur, the eyelashes, Mary’s freckles, Joseph’s expressive eyes, the lighting draws you into the story immediately. The humor is plentiful and thankfully, nothing is crude. This totally impressed me in the storytelling. Even the sinister Herod and the meaner with the dogs never crossed the line of creepy-scary. When the wisecracking camels sarcastically called Herod, “sinister”, that’s enough to let you know who the villain is. His meaner henchman never says a word and I can’t even recall him making a sound. He wears an iron mask (yeah, think Man in the Iron Mask) and is just a huge guy who leads the two meaner dogs who undergo a transformation by the end of the movie because of the kindness of Bo.

The laughter of all the kids in the movie was a beautiful sound to hear because this movie is SO funny, but clean, encouraging, and not sassy. I admit to tearing up twice…at an animated movie! My grandson’s favorite line happened toward the end when the meaner dogs want to see the newborn king. Just as the scene could turn me into an emotional mess as the other animals let the meaner dogs near the manger, a wisecracking camel jumps in and yells, “Look only with your eyes!” which caused us all to roll in laughter. I heard the phrase a dozen times on the walk to the car in the parking lot.

THE STAR is precious. It is beautiful. It is hilarious. It is younger-elementary and preschool friendly. Our three-year-old granddaughter got startled at an action scene toward the end because she had dozed off in her Mama’s lap. She loved Mary and the camels, and was most excited about the colored pencils and coloring sheets that came in the swag-bag.

The facilitator of the preview said the movie was still in post-production so there will be more to come when it opens this weekend on November 17th. The preview was less than an hour which is a good time for preschoolers. At the conclusion of the movie we answered a question about the biblical account to get an early-reader book which my grandson started reading as soon as he was locked and loaded in his car seat.

The closest theater showing The Star to my local church is not close, but I am going to try to put together a trip for us all to enjoy. Road trip anyone?

Additional Resources: http://www.thestarmovie.com (includes discussion starters)

“Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ‘We have seen remarkable things today.'” Luke 5:26

Ambassadors For Christ

Got the small group of kids who are ready for more? Faithful to Sunday school attendance, but talk about more? Those who take on more than the bare minimums and their families are all-in…would even venture to say some of their parents might even have keys to the building? That’s why we started the Ambassadors.

My bucket of responsibility is Kindergarten through 5th grade. Preparing beautiful postcard invitations from vistaprint.com, invitations were sent to all fifth graders on the rolls. Since I observed leadership skills in some fourth graders in Sunday school, specific invites went to them, as well. Still trying to get familiar with the rhythm of my new community regarding the best day and times to offer faith formation opportunities, this was my first Wednesday evening event.

This was the plan:

Supplies – Cheese/Pepperoni pizza, plates, napkins, cups, water, Ambassador fill-in-the-blank worksheet
Scripture 2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are Christ’s ambassadors.”

5-5:30pm Pizza & Chat Dinner (some parents have quite a commute, so we allowed for traffic time)
Visual Faith Project images: Choose an image that represents a part of your life (a representative) and discussed during Pizza & Chat

5:30-6:30pm Welcome, Prayer, Game
What is an Ambassador?
Tour of the Children’s Ministry space
Fill-in-the-blank worksheet
Respond on large post it note

Ambassador – one of the best positions to meet new people and have fun; grow our communication skills (helps you get your ideas heard); leadership) … ambassador…representative…an example…aka a person chosen or appointed to act or speak for another

Tour and walk through the Sunday Morning Setup – carts, check-in kiosks, water, cups, snack

A – Arrive 30 minutes early to assignments (plenty of time to be ready)
M – Mature/Can be trusted (dependable, punctual, enthusiastic without craziness, positive attitude/no complaining)
B – Bible readers (we pour out what we take in; are you reading your Bible regularly and attending weekly Sunday school?)
A – Assist those in our area in a spirit of hospitality (kindness to a stranger) (Hi!, hand outs at end of services)
S – Smile (let’s others know you want to be here; makes the best impression on guests and those having a hard time)
S – Set up on Sundays, Tour of the Nativities, Christmas Eve readers and lit candle processionals
A – Assist in the K5 & 1st grade Sunday school classrooms and special events as needed
D – Dress appropriately for the event (flip flops; awards ceremony/representatives; brush your teeth, gum chewing; sneakers; clean)
O – Open the doors…of conversation, of encouragement, and the real doors, too.
R – Respond quickly with kindness; be aware of your surroundings and others

Game – Knee Tag

Roles for Fall Ambassadors 1. Partner with kid guests (weekly)
2. Tour of the Nativities (tour guide on Dec 17th)
3. Greet & serve on Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve)
4. Set up on Sunday mornings (weekly rotation)
5. Assist in K5 & 1st grade Sunday school (as needed)

Dismiss

The students were asked to consider if they wished to take on such responsibilities at the end of the orientation. If so, they were invited to write their names on the large post-it-note on the wall. They were eager and asked good questions. “Do we have to smile the whole time? My mouth might start to hurt.” (Man! I love these kids!)

The first Sunday following the Ambassador Orientation, many of the Sunday morning tasks were taken on by the Ambassadors without my even knowing it until I saw certain things already taken care of throughout the morning. I’ve received a few phone calls about the next orientation for students who were unable to attend the first orientation. Looks like we’ll schedule another Ambassador Orientation in the winter. Leadership opportunities are part of what every student should be able to experience in their home/local church. Jesus believes in them and I want them to know that their church family believes in them, too.

“We at Christ’s ambassadors.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

“First steps are scary. They stretch us and push us out of our comfort zone. But even though they may be uncomfortable, first steps are essential to moving forward into God’s best for our lives.” – from Connect by Nelson Searcy with Jennifer Dykes Henson

A Light On The Corner Moment

It’s stewardship campaign time and our 2017 tagline is ‘McEachern is a light on the corner.” Invited to share last week as a champion for ministry with children for a few minutes in all services, I carried in my cardboard cutout Jesus and shared the following:

The best way for kids to know Jesus is to know people who know Jesus.
Like John – who marches, sings in our Youth Choir and teaches kindergartners how to play checkers.
Like Jennifer & Derek – who are present every single week in 3rd grade Sunday school. Because when kids can trust them to be there every time, kids learn to trust our Great God every time.
Like Selena and Randy who champion for space and signage.

The best way for kids to know Jesus is to know people who know Jesus.
Like Melissa – who teaches a small group of twenty-six 3rd-5th grade girls they are Princesses of the King, King Jesus, that is.
Like Leah who talks with 1st graders as she builds with Legos, Ali who draws with 2nd graders, and Eli who chats with every little guy in the room.

The best way for kids to know Jesus is to know people who know Jesus.
Like James – who will be driving our 4th & 5th graders to Bethlehem for Christmas (Bethlehem Georgia) and 5th graders to Camp Glisson in February.
Like Stacie – who’s a connector and toots the horn of McEachern kids at every soccer game. Like Lolita who gathers supplies for every Sunday morning small group every week. Like Donna & Martha who are emptynesters, but decorated a trunk last week at the local Chick-Fil-A Trunk or Treat to give out candy and information about what’s going on with #mceachernkids

The best way for kids to know Jesus is to know people who know Jesus.
Like Jeff & Melanie who are here every time the doors are open, Brittany & Zach who have a spirit of YES, Monica who plays on the floor in her high heels with the best dressed class of kindergartners who should be on the cover of a high-end fashion magazine. And like Mike who teaches a small group of young boys what it takes to be Knights of the King as walking examples of what a man of faith sold out for Jesus looks like, sounds like, and prays like.

The best way for kids to know Jesus is to know people who know Jesus. Like you!

“But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” Joshua 22:5

Fall Musings

Church Charge Conferences are family gatherings. When the family of faith gathers for reports and celebrations of those who are living out their callings in passionate ministry and effective mission. Though each local church is required to conference individually, it’s when we conference together with our neighbors we see we are all in the family business of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Last Sunday evening, we gathered as representatives of our individual local churches and celebrated as a family of churches in the West Cobb area of greater Atlanta. We heard of ministry and mission of children’s choirs, backpacks of food for children in nearby elementary schools, USO support, Teach 1 to Lead 1 mentoring, and starting new faith families in shared facilities. We heard a word from our District Superintendent, received communion and a blessing to go and be the church. This falls completely in my lap for where my head has been for the last several months for ministry with children.

What if there was a hub of collaboration where we offer developmentally appropriate faith formation experiences for children in connection with other local churches? More local? More connected? Where it doesn’t matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ the individual churches are, because we are mightier together? Where we do what we do individually on Sunday morning to meet our individual culture and DNA, but we plan to go out together?

If our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, what is our best YES for resources and faith formation that is developmentally appropriate at specific age levels?  Please hear that I hold no judgement in programming. This is just where my head has been as it’s time to make plans for next summer. Yeah, before Trunk or Treat, Kidmin champions look to the next summer. This is our world!

The best way for kids to know Jesus is to know people who know Jesus and not just in their own house, among the greater body of Christ. I’m thinking steps, not programs. I’m thinking faith formation experiences and not just week-long day camps. Leading children into experiences they would not have participated in on their own with Jesus at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. Then give kids a chance to talk about it. Giving kids a regular diet of ‘how we go’ and ‘how does Jesus go with us?’ Where the local church is not just a venue for Christian activity, but the heartbeat of Jesus as we desire to become more like Jesus rather than only learn about Jesus. Beyond the collaboration of a Winter Ball where the host is responsible for most everything.

I’m thinking of ‘going experiences’ where we partner with other Kidmin champions (the director or super volunteer of several local churches). Where chaperones see a team of 2 or 3 or more Kidmin champions building energy, engaging in the faith formation experiences specific to a kid’s developmental age/stage, so the chaperones can’t bear to only lean against the back wall on their phone as if this event (anything special outside of Sunday morning) is no different than a school field trip to the CNN center.

Think a Fish & Faith trip to an aquarium for fourth graders where three or more local churches of differing sizes travel together as one, learn sacred vocabulary, engage in faith formation steps that begin before the trip, developmentally appropriate study in the midst, creatively journal/document, engage in holy conversation AND mischief, with kidmin champions who take on different aspects of the teaching and leading so to invite all learning styles to play well together (I don’t like to hike long distances, but I will hike…just keeping it real, ya’ll). Where these fourth graders meet up in the years to come at camp or recall, “I remember that time we went to Chattanooga with my church and ….” A faith formation experience that is connected with other kids, other Jesus followers, and sticks in their memory as part of their journey with the One and Only who calls us friend. Where the fourth grader invites a friend to meet his other friends, not just ‘come to my church.’ Where the feel is more like a large group of small groups who share in a day of faith formation experiences.

Think a fifth grade trip to a local monastery, a second grade hiking experience up Stone Mountain with the kids of a local church in that area then back to their church to play (there’s no quicker way for a kid to feel he/she belongs than when they play together), a third grade trip to an archaeological dig in LaGrange, a kindergarten day experience where we serve…, where first graders engage Jesus at …., where multiple local churches collaborate to get the leg/phone/planning-work done. I have served in churches with few children, but desired to offer them a ‘Big Jesus’ experience with the greater church and I’ve served in a church with hundreds of children, but desired to offer them a ‘Personal and Intimate Jesus’ experience that goes beyond the walls  and critical mass of Sunday morning. This I know: it takes a ‘Sunday-AND’ approach for a closer walk with Jesus for all of us…little people, too.

My sentences are run-ons, my thoughts are still tangled. The most amazing people in my district networking group have agreed to unpack these musings together as that hub of collaboration mentioned earlier in this post for next summer. More to come. It’s a different model of ministry with children where their faith formation experiences are greater than what only one church can provide, where we are tasked with making Jesus real and relevant in ALL areas of our lives in the building and outside the building, where we slow down our community through small group experiences which are more intimate and memorable, where a church with two kids can provide a shared faith experience with four other local churches’ twenty kids and…here I go, thinking in run-on sentences again. What are you thinking?

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Small Groups for Upper Elementary

Tossing some ping-pong balls before we shoot a cannonball of small groups in January, we started a series of three 3rd-5th grade small groups. Where Sunday school may be considered Wesley’s ‘classes’, I was thinking more along the lines of offering Wesley’s ‘bands’: an opportunity for deeper growth and more intentional belonging. Postcards for the Princesses (girls only) and Knights (boys only) were mailed a month before, info in the newsletter, age-level emails were sent, and we talked about it in Sunday school after co-leaders were secured, and promoted it on social media. Using “Raising A Modern-Day Knight” by Robert Lewis and “Knights In Training” by Heather Haupt as resources for games and THE CODE, we were set.

Princess & Knights – Weeks #1 & #2

Opening Activity – Write each name on a craft stick (to be used to call on students and place in small groups); Pop bubble wrap

Introduction Game – Shake hands around a circle with “Hi My Name is ….” completely around the room until everyone has been introduced.

Introduce the Knight’s Code & Princess of the King’s Code with handout. I printed the Princess Code on purple (color of royalty), but changed #5 of the Knight’s Code to read ‘respect the honor of all people.’

Chant Activity – YOU shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with your strength. YOU shall love the Lord with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself, HUH! (Mark 12:30-31)

Lesson Point – #1 When we follow Jesus, we do what He did (according to Luke 2: He went to church; He listened to His teachers; He obeyed His Mama) – #2 Miriam – Finish the task at hand (Princess); Jonathan – Always do what is right (Knight)

Scripture – Luke 2:41-52 (The only story we have of Jesus as a kid)

Miriam – Persevere and finish the task at hand
A princess of the king sets about with determination to finish the task at hand. She reminds herself to stick with her task before starting on play or another assignment. (Exodus 15)

Jonathan – Stand against injustice and evil
A knight of valor fights against injustice and evil, no matter the personal cost. He recognizes that evil triumphs when good men do nothing and is willing to take that stand to defend and protect those around him. (1 Samuel)

Small Group Questions:
How do we grow in wisdom?
How do we grow in stature?
How do we grow in favor? (why do you think growing in these areas are important as knights or princesses of the king?)

Miriam – 1) Can you think of a time when you had to persevere through a difficult situation or task?
2) What are some things you can do to help you get through tough times?
3) How can we celebrate and thank God when he helps us persevere?

Jonathan – 1) Why did Jonathan risk his own life to defend David?
2) How did Jonathan’s bravery in standing up for David lead to the birth of Jesus?
3) How can you be like Jonathan?

Closing Games:

Princesses: Walking with a book on your head (proper posture gives confidence); Shoe game (2 girls, back to back with one shoe beside the couple on the ground; each girl touches own body parts with own both hands as per game caller, then when ‘shoe’ is shouted, the first girl to grab and keep the one shoe beside the couple wins…ex: eyes, head, knees, shoulder, SHOE!); Frozen tshirt game (How to play: freeze a couple t-shirts, split into teams, and the first team to get the shirt onto one of their team members wins.)

Knights: Finger Jousting; Stand Your Ground Challenge
Finger Jousting – The point of the game is to touch your pointer finger to the arms, legs, or torso of your opponent. Lock hands in a wrestling stance with pointer fingers sticking out (our joust). The other arm must be held behind your back and while you can  move your feet to position yourself, you cannot use your legs or opposite arm in this joust. Stand Your Ground Challenge – 2 kids face each other with feet apart at hip width and about 12 inches from their opponent’s feet, palms touching at  shoulder height. Victory goes to the opponent who can hold his ground. Play best two out of three. Frozen tshirt game (How to play: freeze a couple t-shirts, split into teams, and the first team to get the shirt onto one of their team members wins.)

Service Activity:
Write WELCOME postcards to go into guest kid bags; fill kid-guest bags with stickers, bracelets, information and registration forms, pencils, candy.

Dismissal Prayer: The Doxology (it’s not about me, it’s about the King)…the girls prefer to sing the doxology.

The next lesson for the Princesses will be on Dorcas (be generous and willing to share). The Knight’s lessons will be about Boaz (be generous and willing to share).

There is a great deal of information we hope to gather in these three small group meetings as we pray and prepare for what developmentally appropriate faith formation experiences will be offered come the new year. More on that later.

“The knight survives in that collective consciousness like an ancient Superman, committed to a code of conduct that Tennyson summarized as ‘Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King.'” Frances Gies, The Knight in History (New York: Harper Row, 1984), page 206