The focus in this week’s passage is not just the persons of the Trinity but how that Bible passage can teach us about God and what it has to teach us about ourselves. This practice of learning from Scripture, and from our daily living, more about who God is, what he has to say to us and how we can be part of that is a really important spiritual practice and one which is just as accessible for children as for adults.
Here is a fantastic tool to help you do that with your children
Hopefully this ritual will help you to learn about each other and about God as we move into this new season in the Church of ordinary time – where the focus is on learning and growing together.
This Sunday is Trinity Sunday so here are some resources to explore the Bible passage as a family with some activities, questions, a game and a craft. I’d love to know or see some pictures of how you get on.
Really good ideas
· If you haven’t already seen them, the Church of England assemblies in partnership with Oak National Academy are released each Friday morning and you can find them and more resources here https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/faith-home/faith-home-videos
· For those who are leaving school, university or making other transitions this summer, this may be a helpful read – or helpful to pass on to others in those situations. It’s about university but applicable to any similar context of leaving something behind and moving on. https://www.youthandchildrens.work/Read/Blog/A-letter-to-the-class-of-2020?fbclid=IwAR3bPdUV2YdDyTn2Z4EbRIg2i8hjsSCOl14Wt1FBrD_Y_3H1KhbyObmNWHU
· Wonderful Word Vision are providing a free Little Pack of Hope https://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/resources/activities-uk-churches-families-and-communities-during-covid-19/
Having moved through the Easter season and celebrating Pentecost this weekend, next weekend we will celebrate Trinity Sunday before moving back into ‘ordinary time’ for a while. The Trinity is one of the most complex aspects of the Christian faith to understand. However, key to the Trinity is an understanding of God as relationship (in God’s self) but also that we can enter into a relationship with God. At a time when relationships are restricted (we cannot meet up etc. in normal ways) it is a great celebration that we can still come close to God. Talk about prayer as a conversation and Trinity as relationship this week and see where it gets you. If it’s not already in your practice, introduce a time of prayer and worship by saying ‘We meet in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ – this reinforces both ideas and is a helpful scene-setting for prayer and conversation with God.
Linked to that idea is the theme of the Faith in families booklet for week 6 – being closer to God. This is a really helpful way to see how we can grow in faith – it is not about learning and doing, it is about being and experiencing. Try and use that language this week as you share together.
Really good ideas
- There are some great ideas here about sharing the idea of the Trinity together in preparation for next Sunday http://www.chester.anglican.org/content/pages/documents/1489851673.pdf
- If children are preparing to return to school, these resources can be particularly helpful. Social stories are often used for people with ASD but can also be a good tool when dealing with anxiety or new experiences https://static.lgfl.net/Covid19%20Social%20Story%20School%20is%20Opening.pdf
- Heart Smart have released some free ‘at home’ content for families which are really good https://www.heartsmart.family/
Thy Kingdom Come continues until Pentecost Sunday (31st May) so do find ways to connect with this special season of prayer.
One of the things that is most common in many churches is that people often come in to light a candle. It can be one of the things we turn to when someone is ill or if there is something we want to ask God’s help for. It might be one of the things you most miss about going into your church building. While you are able to light candles at home of course – if it is safe to do so – there is something special about lighting one in a holy place, a place where you can leave your prayers and questions with God. This week you could try lighting a virtual candle and handing your prayers over to God through that action. Try it here https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/light-candle.
In addition to the fifth week of the Faith in families booklet which looks at getting to know the Bible, I am also providing some ideas to explore and celebrate Pentecost together using things we use for other celebrations – balloons, cake and a song! I hope you can use them in the week leading up to and on Pentecost Sunday itself to really celebrate the birthday of the church and the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Really good ideas
- Faith Inkubators have provided a Family Devotional for use during the pandemic. It has 8 weeks of ideas for creative ways of praying together linked with Bible passages https://clarewilliamsyouth.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/ec1cd-pandemic_hope_devotional.pdf
- The Pentecost story in the resource pack this week comes from BRF their website has loads of great ideas which can be used in schools, churches or at home https://ideas.brf.org.uk/
- This website has one of the best collections of materials – particularly their videos of Bible stories – and is multilingual https://www.max7.org/en
It may still be some time until we can be physically together again in our churches but this week provides a really important focus for being together in prayer so I hope we can all be involved in this initiative.
Thy Kingdom Come is a global wave of prayer from 21st-31st May. It’s going to look different this year but praying can still be done on our own or together. Try and set aside a time of day during this period to pray the Lord’s Prayer. You could do this with your household but could also ‘meet’ with others via video call to pray together. Try and join up with at least one other person to do this every day.
The Faith in families booklet explores ‘Loving other people’ this week. It would be good to explore how you have/could do this in the current situation – what new ways of showing love and care have you discovered?
On Thursday this week it is Ascension Day which begins a ten-day period of prayer instituted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, leading up to Pentecost on 31st May. I have included some prayer stations based on the Lord’s Prayer made specifically for this special time of prayer. These are designed to be set up in a church and used by everyone but could work at home, you could do one every day or set them up in a space in your home – or outside – and travel through them together.
Really good ideas
· Thy Kingdom Come (the Church of England’s prayer initiative from Ascension to Pentecost) begins on Thursday this week. There are some great ideas for how to get involved including a Digital Family Prayer Adventure Map here https://www.thykingdomcome.global/sites/default/files/2020-04/Five%20Ideas%20for%20Families%20.pdf
· Unfortunately on a very sad topic, but providing some very helpful resources: Saying goodbye from Together at home https://af51dd98-adab-4c43-ba03-c87e019551a5.filesusr.com/ugd/ebdd71_a046fb1bf386405d838acc0c207bb354.pdf
· ROOTS for churches have continued to adapt their resources and are working with the Church of England to provide resources for each week in connection with the theme of the assemblies with TES, Oak National Academy and the Church of England https://www.rootsontheweb.com/faithathomewithroots
This week Jesus tells us that he is the way, the truth and the life. It is through seeing and knowing him that we come to see and know his Father in heaven. We are using this time to get to know God better, but I hope although we are separated from our church families we can also use this time to get to know one another better and really appreciate why being together is so important. Find ways this week to connect with another family or person from your church, spend time together and get to know them. Explore together what knowing and following Jesus means to you.
I’ve been running a virtual youth group since lockdown (if you want any more information on this please email me) and have also been working (in my day job!) with ROOTS to adapt our resources to go virtual. This may work for you with your young people in churches or perhaps if you have teenagers of your own at home, to get together with another family group, we have made this week’s resources free to all so you can sample what’s on offer https://www.rootsontheweb.com/virtualyouthgroup
Really good ideas
- https://www.isingpop.org/ an organisation adapting and sharing their resources via a video each week with songs, stories, Bible verses and activities.
- Fantastic resources for children and young people to become ‘Young leaders’ with the Archbishop of York Youth Trust https://www.archbishopofyorkyouthtrust.co.uk/yla-at-home
- Some great videos here to explore different Bible themes and ideas https://gochattervideos.com/
The Bible passage for this week (John 10.1-10) talks about the sheep (us) following the shepherd (Jesus) because we know his voice. In our busy lives – even now as we fill our days with new and creative activities – how often do we make space to be still and listen for God’s voice? As part of building in regular prayer and worship time together be brave and build in times of silence. Spend time intentionally listening and find ways which help you to be still, e.g. finding a comfortable way of sitting, closing your eyes, having something to keep your focus. Share together afterwards what it felt like and if, in some way, you were able to hear God speaking to you.
This week the theme of the ‘Faith in families’ booklet is ‘Living a good life’. There are lots of ideas about memory verses and how to learn Bible verses together. Here are some ideas:
- Learn one word each as a family and then put them all together
- Play a game passing something round the circle saying a word at a time
- Repeat the verse with different members of the family challenging you to say it in different ways, e.g. whispering, sounding excited, in different accents
- Say the verse with actions
- Have some write the verse and somebody else rubbing it out – swap roles over as needed
- Set the verse to music
- Decorate your house with the verse using bunting or peg it up somewhere so you see it every day
- Write the verse on building blocks and build a tower – you could also have someone knocking the tower down to be built back up again
- Have a relay race to collect the words of the verse and build the verse up in the correct order
- Hide the words of the verse around the house then find them and put them in the correct order
- And many more!
Really good ideas
- https://worshipforeveryone.com/looking-to-the-rainbow This song has been produced for schools but can be learnt and sung by anyone!
- A great journey through the Bible in Lego – what a challenge! https://www.facebook.com/DioceseNorCYF/photos/a.469948359870095/1276855189179404/?type=3&theater
- Messy Church have been adapting their resources to use at home and there are now sessions for May-August on their website https://www.messychurch.org.uk/covid-19
This week’s Gospel passage is all about Jesus sharing his story with the disciples, perhaps they also share their story of loss and grief after the death of their friend with him. It is through this sharing, both of stories, and food together, that they recognise him and come into relationship with him again.
Use these simple ways of being together this week. Make story time part of your week; not only sharing books and stories but take time at the end of each day to share the story of your day together. Write a story together! Write a diary/story of your lockdown time. Make and share food together, perhaps some bread as you remember this particular story, and share what you all know about Jesus’ story – and which parts are most important to you.
This week the Faith in families booklet continues with week 1 which is all about praying. I have also attached a document with 5 simple sessions for stories, games and crafts based on prayer for children to support your work with the Faith in families booklet this week.
Really good ideas!
- If you’re not already a subscriber to ROOTS, this week you can get a whole WEEK of FREE resources, just for this week https://www.rootsontheweb.com/sample
- Baker ross colouring sheets https://www.bakerross.co.uk/craft-ideas/kids/coronavirus-colour-in-posters/?fbclid=IwAR3PKbFM3pIfUcXRUIx9F6GVFUjtxo8zTOd5GdX7iyADK0-xrnipEZUFoQc
- Covid-19 time capsule https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10163388250435302&set=pcb.10163388256040302&type=3&theater
This week’s Gospel passage for Sunday is all about Thomas who had to see to believe. Sometimes at the moment it might be hard to believe what’s actually happening in the world – until you turn on the news or go to the supermarket that is! We might be blessed with being able to believe in Jesus without seeing, or to hold onto the love of our families, although we cannot see them at the moment. However, it’s a helpful passage to remind us that it’s ok to ask, it’s ok to need ‘proof’, it’s ok for our faith to be based on tangible things as well. This week spend some time noticing what you see, hear, feel, taste, smell and what things help to strengthen and consolidate your faith. The sunshine might be one of them, or the touch of a wooden holding cross. Use them and savour them.
The attached ‘Faith in families’ document is the first section of a booklet, lasting over six weeks (plus this introduction). I hope that this will add consistency to your times together. We have already looked at; a format for Sunday worship time, various ways of worshipping outdoors, plus daily devotional time connected to Easter – which hopefully provided other ideas which can be ongoing, e.g. Memory verse work and songs/video resources.
I will continue to add additional resources alongside this but hope it’s a really helpful document – and can act a bit like a diary/scrapbook of this time – to build and explore faith together.
Really good ideas!
- Sadly issues of death and grief may be more at the forefront of our lives at the moment. Here is a great webinar which may be of use to children’s workers but also parents https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/child-bereavement-webinar-tickets-102261133804?aff=eand&fbclid=IwAR2-Iyj42_aiBIZkwk1h__UA4Q-cKlsY3pHL1NIQHvlaEzy5l_sIk2BkBLE
- Available in 15 different languages, this programme from the Global Children’s Forum has been developed to combine faith with keeping fit https://family.fit/?fbclid=IwAR0Ug0br60VqeMC0ekgFzbPdEKRw7rUMxlgMesSkSu8Y8i2X2xT4EBWLJJo
- Engage worship are providing simple, daily reflections which may add to your time of worship together https://engageworship.org/engage-at-home-daily-family-prayer-and-worship-activities?fbclid=IwAR0Gyxq-cO4W_4luGt4xnBVSWIWBUberV-dkwmdqvgEnZOgu_ivMwJycPWc
Happy Easter for tonight/tomorrow when the celebration of light and life will become real in our hearts and lives. I pray that you will experience this in new ways, whether you feel close to God or far away through our isolation from Church and from one another.
Easter lasts for 50 days! Which is a good job as we need to continue in this atmosphere of joy and celebration to help us through these difficult times. You are probably trying to keep a sense of routine in terms of school work, your work, housework as well as eating, sleeping and exercising – and hopefully worshipping. Add into that time for daily joy and reflection. Decide on some things which bring joy, simple things, e.g. blowing bubbles, sharing an edible treat, feeding the birds, craft, and decide on a list for this week. Couple that with something to thank God for/reflect about, e.g. family, food, creation. Add your activities to the reward chart and give yourself a star for every day you do them. Remember to pray/reflect when you do the activities.
Ideas for Easter – a week of celebration of the life that Jesus gives us, life in all its fullness, life with him – forever. Enjoy and keep celebrating!
Really good ideas!
· Diddy Disciples are livestreaming Compline, led by children, via their Facebook page. Another thing which may aid bedtime routines https://www.facebook.com/diddydisciples/
· In addition to Joe Wicks for PE, you might like to look at Fischy Music’s youtube channel on Monday mornings as they livestream several of their songs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcPYmV-2DY4
· Scripture Union are now offering regular ‘Lockdown’ content and have already released their ‘Diary of a disciple’ as a free audiobook. Suggested for those aged 7-11 https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/resource/diary-disciple-lukes-story-audio-all-chaptersfbclid=IwAR37m3OvFoBCZZSqAQEMxrbRwK7uzbBq03UgDtsi81hupD4vQ5dl5z-mzcI
I’m aware that many people are planning new ways to mark Holy Week and Easter this year, so I am emailing out slightly early to ensure that children and young people are provided for in your planning.I hope you are all well.
By now the feeling of lockdown may be very difficult and finding ways to keep some normality and retain some familiarity is important. This week is Holy Week and gives a real opportunity to tap in to some familiar practices from our church liturgies and rituals, to recreate in our own homes. Do something each day (ideally each morning) to recognise the journey of the week, why not set up a pathway to the cross and move a pebble or a counter (one for each member of your household) along it every day.
Mark the days together too. On Thursday re-create the Lord’s Supper in your own home – you might include foot washing(!) or sharing bread together, but share a special meal (around a table if you can) and talk together about the last supper, share the story from Luke’s Gospel. On Friday, have some quiet time in front of a cross, read the story of ‘The three trees’ Angela Elwell Hunt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5qRzTOpOnk and read Matthew’s account of the crucifixion. On Saturday, if you can, build an Easter garden together including; rocks for the tomb, hills with crosses on them, as well as flowers and signs of new life. Of course, on Sunday we will be celebrating in a different way, but try and create an atmosphere of celebration, worship together, have Easter eggs and sings songs of joy.
The Holy week booklet gives ideas for each day and helps build the story together through the week.
Really good ideas!
· Rhema Theatre company have made 11 films/dramas about Holy Week and Easter freely available https://talesfromthemiraclebook.co.uk/
· This beautiful book has been made available for free and may really help calm any anxieties at bedtime https://issuu.com/churchpublishing/docs/candlewalk5?fr=sNmZhNjY3MDM3Mg
· If you are shopping don’t forget the real Easter Egg to celebrate Easter https://meaningfulchocolate.co.uk/collections/real-easter-egg (also available in some larger supermarkets)
With many prayers for a peaceful and blessed Holy Week, however you are marking it.
How has the week been? What resources have been useful to you? What would you like to see more of? Have you tried worshipping together as a family at home?
The clocks go forward tonight meaning we lose an hour’s sleep, but we also gain more light in the evenings. Even in these uncertain times, the turning of the world still adds rhythm to our days. We are also encouraged to get outside once a day, safely, for exercise, just with those with whom we live. Try and make the most of it and begin a new pattern this week of experiencing the outdoors in the extra light we have. Try and spend an hour outside each day (if safe to do so, and observing all government guidelines), ideally later in the day to really notice the change in the light. Talk about and explore the idea of Jesus as the light of the world and how we notice that in our daily lives – whether we are experiencing dark times, or the light of joy.
To accompany our outdoor theme – here are seven ideas to try worship/prayer together outdoors this week.
Really good ideas!
- Worship for everyone are offering a ‘Family at 4pm’ live worship via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/worshipforeveryone/videos/846765575807279/
- Order some craft packs for next week https://www.bakerross.co.uk/arts-and-crafts/holy-week
- The amazing people at Same Boat Music are making 7 songs a week available for free accompanied with crafts and other ideas https://sameboatmusic.com/pages/sameboatmusicathome
These certainly are unprecedented times but we know that God is with us and will remain faithful.
There are many resource providers who are seeking to amend what they offer and allow free content to all. I would advise following certain groups on Facebook/Twitter for lots of regular updates, e.g. Going for growth, Scripture Union, Messy Church BRF, Prayer Spaces in Schools, GodVenture, Parenting for Faith BRF, Flame: Creative Children’s Ministry.
I will be offering three simple things each week:
· Really good ideas!
There are many people out there doing lots of excellent things so I am not trying to reinvent the wheel or suggest that these ideas are exhaustive or the best examples. However I am keen to offer consistent support at this time and try to signpost the best ideas available from others.
Attending church for lots of families becomes a regular part of life. Even if it isn’t we are used to rituals and routine. Many families will be trying to build new patterns at this time, alongside trying to maintain work, look after relatives etc.
Faith formation shouldn’t be a burden should provide an additional element to our everyday ‘rituals’ at home.
While assigning a particular time to explore faith together might be tricky, it is good to assign a particular space. Involve children in ‘setting up’ this space and recognising a change in gear and a change in atmosphere as you move into a time of worship. If regular routine is helpful at home then consider dedicating time on a Sunday, ideally when your church would be meeting.
Please find attached a format for worship at home.
One with particular resources included for Mothering Sunday.
Really good ideas!
· If you haven’t already, now would be a really good time to download Guardians of Ancora (from Scripture Union). A free game which explores Bible stories. While screen time may be limited, it will also be more important – in terms of learning and remaining connected. This is a great way to make it a positive experience.
· Illustrated children’s ministry are offering some of their resources free at this time via a weekly email https://www.illustratedministry.com/flattenthecurve
· ROOTS have adapted their offering for subscribers to provide resources for both adults and families at home. In addition to that they are offering more FREE materials – follow the link on the homepage https://www.rootsontheweb.com/
Do let me know how you get on, if you have any questions and if there are other ways you would like to build community at this time, e.g. connecting via video call.
Finally do join in with the call to prayer on Sunday 22nd March at 7pm by lighting a candle and joining the church at prayer.
Prayers and best wishes
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