Friday, May 5, 2017

Faithful Families Update for Fourth Sunday of Easter 2017

Children seldom misquote.  In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said. 
~Author Unknown

Family Closeness
Long Word Search
Find a long word (eg. hippopotamus, catastrophe) and give everyone a pencil and paper. Try to make as many words as possible from the letters of the long word. Rules: All words must be at least three letters long. A letter may only be used more than once in a word if it is contained in the main word more than once. Set a time limit. (From TV Free Activities for Kids by Di Hodges)

These questions are to stimulate a sense of openness, sharing and discovery about your family.
  • What is one thing you don’t think you could live without? Why?
  • If you could only take three things to a desert island, what would they be?
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • What does it mean to adore something?
  • Do you remember a time when someone praised you for something you did? What did it feel like? Did you like it? What are some of the words that might express praise? 

With your family read John 10.1-10 (Jesus the Gate)

(for a way of explaining/talking about this reading with children look at

Questions for Discussion: 
  • How does the shepherd look after the sheep?
  • How do the sheep respond to the shepherd?
  • Who do you think are Jesus' sheep?
  • What do you think it means for Jesus to be a gate for his sheep?
  • What does this reading say Jesus came for?
 In 1st century Palestine, shepherds would often stay out in the field with their flock of sheep for a long time. In order to look after his sheep at night, the shepherd would make a low enclosure out of stones with a small opening. At night, the shepherd would lie down in front of the opening to keep the sheep in and the wild animals or thieves out. The shepherd became the gate to the pen, protecting the sheep with his own body.

If the shepherd was near a city or village, he might take his sheep to a large holding area where many flocks would stay for the night. The watchman had a duty to guard the flocks and not let anyone in, except the shepherds in the morning. When the shepherds came, they would call their sheep and,  knowing their master's voice, they would follow him out of the pen into the pasture.

Prayer and Celebration
Praying Psalm 23
Pray the 23rd Psalm with your children and the members of your family. Instead of using my or me, use your child’s name.
For example: The Lord is John’s shepherd, John shall not want etc.
You, Lord, are ______ shepherd.
_________ will never be in need.
You let __________ rest in fields
of green grass.
You lead _________ to streams
of peaceful water,
and you refresh ________ life.
You are true to your name,
and you lead _______
along the right paths.
___________ may walk through valleys
as dark as death,
but ______________ won’t be afraid.
You are with _________,
and your shepherd’s rod
makes ____________ feel safe.
You treat _________ to a feast,
while ________ enemies watch.
You honour _________ as your guest,
and you fill __________ cup
until it overflows.
Your kindness and love
will always be with __________
each day of _________ life,
and __________ will live forever
in your house, Lord. 

“Get a drive going”
Recently I visited a church-run organisation in the city I work in called The Mission to Seafarers. They have an amazing ministry of hospitality and care for those who work on cargo ships. When the ships are in port, the seafarers come to the centre for some recreation, hospitality and friendship. In an island country like Australia where the vast majority of imported goods come by sea, these people who work on the ships have an important but often tough and lonely role. While I was there, I became aware of the different items that The Mission uses or provides for the seafarers. It included books, dvd’s, magazines, clothes, all kinds of things really. Often we have an abundance of these goods sitting around the house that we are unlikely to use again. With your family, why not start a drive amongst your family and friends for these kinds of goods in your community? Find out what charities or services are in your area, find out what they need and if they are happy to receive goods from you, then GO FOR IT. Not only will you be providing necessary items for a good cause but you will be raising the profile of it in the community. 

Family Time
Having a family night is a fantastic and fun way to focus on your family growing together. What is a family night? It is simply putting aside one evening a week or a month or whatever regular interval suits you to do something together that everyone will enjoy. Make sure the dates you pick are in your diaries and give them the first priority – try to plan well ahead. Give each member a turn to plan the program for the evening. Make it a rule that there is to be no complaining or fidgeting and that everyone is to cooperate and participate. This is especially important for the younger children whose self esteem may be damaged by older children's comments. Don't forget to talk about the purpose of the family night. Two key purposes could be 1. To have fun together. (Family night should be the most anticipated night of the week.) 2. To worship the Lord together. This is an opportunity for parents to model Christian devotion to their children. (The Big Book of Family Fun, Gwen Ellis.)

Here are some ideas for fun family nights. All of these take a little planning and resource gathering…but if your family has fun and grows together, it will be well worth it.

Celebration Night
Throw a party for your family or for a particularly special day. Decorate the room, eat special food, play some games and generally do what you do when you have a party.

Outing Night
Go on a special adventure with your family to somewhere different than the local shopping centre.

Project Night
Provide materials for the family to make a project – art, drama or anything that comes to mind. Making puppets is one idea.

(This material is based on and draws from earlier Faithful Families emails by Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning: An Unless Ideas Production.) Unless otherwise noted all material on this blog is copyright Stephen Harrison and Richard Browning

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