Monday, 15 January 2018

Wiping tears from their eyes: Spray paint prayers

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone.  Revelation 21:4

Sometimes the life can be sad and worrying. It is important to acknowledge that children feel these emotions and I strongly feel that it is part of our ministry to help them to express to God what makes them feel sad.  I love Revelation 21 because it really paints a picture of a place where God is and where all that makes this world sad is washed away forever. This prayer activity is based on that hope.

You will need: paper (watercolour paper is especially good), small spray bottles, water, paint, stiff cardboard (I used an Amazon box), scissors

Before you start the activity put a small amount of paint in the spray bottles and water it down so that it will easily spray onto the paper.

Ask children to think about People who are going through difficult times or situations that are hard, or of something that makes them sad.  Give them cardboard and scissors and get them to cut out shapes that reflect what they are thinking about- it might be an initial letter, a heart, or some other relevant shape.

Get children to place their shape on a piece of paper and to hold it down firmly. Spray water over the shape and pray that God will see the tears of sadness for that person or place and bring his hope and new life. Carefully remove the shape and see the space that has been protected underneath as a symbol of the hope and protection God brings.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Epiphany Star Finger Print Prayers

This is a very simple prayer activity, for all ages, which helps to connect with the story of the Wise Men following the star to find Jesus. It's especially useful if you are celebrating Epiphany this Sunday!  This activity is best done when you have told the story of the wise men and had the chance to discuss it.

You will need: A fairly large star shape made of paper or card, finger paints (or any paint!), hand washing facilities

If you are doing this as a group, sit around the star shape and make sure there is plenty of room to access the paints.

Choose a prayer to pray.  When you have finished your prayer, put your finger in the paint and leave a finger print on the star as an 'amen'

Pray for:
  • People who are travelling a long way- that God will look after them and keep them safe
  • People who are looking for something- that they find it
  • People who like to learn and understand more about the world- that they will have opportunities 
  • People who rule and govern countries- that they will be wise and loving
  • New parents- that they will be joyful
  • People who want to find out more about Jesus- that they will come to know his love

Friday, 22 December 2017

Review: An Illustrated Advent for Families 2017

It seems such a long time since I lasted posted but the reality of ministry leading up to Christmas is a bit crazy!

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Illustrated Children's Ministry's 'An Illustrated Advent for Families' and some of our families have been working their way through it in the last few weeks. Although, so close to Christmas,  it seems the wrong time to be reviewing an Advent product, I wanted to make sure that we had given it a good go!

There is so much to recommend about this product and, though it may be too late this year to start using it, I am entirely sure that next year's version will be just as amazing!

For a single family to purchase a digital copy of the pack costs $10 or about £7.50 and there are options for churches to buy a licence to send it to multiple families for a really reduced price, which is a great bargain.  What is helpful is that a downloadable sample is available so you can get a taste and see if this would be useful to your family or not before you buy.

The pack comprises:

  • Simple to use family devotions for each week of Advent (including songs and lectionary based readings)
  • Colouring sheets based on the devotional theme of the week
  • an illustrated Advent wreath to colour and make
  • A colour in Advent calendar linked to daily acts and prayers which draw out the themes of hope, peace, joy and love

This is definitely a 'pick up and go' resource. Minimal preparation is needed and the colouring sheets are of an extremely high quality. There is nothing sweet and saccharine here! This is a really intergenerational resource and is intended to be done 'with' not 'for' children.The colouring sheets, in particular are appealing to all ages and I got just as much from spending some time focussing on the words and images as the children did. The Advent wreath craft was especially popular and helps children to tie in what they are doing at home with the candles that many churches light for each week of Advent. I particularly loved the 'actions' Advent calendar and know that one of our young families got a lot out of trying to bring some hope and joy to others over the last few weeks.

There are so many ways to use the material, so it's suitable to give to families on the fringe of church who might not want to engage with the more devotional material but could easily use the Advent wreath and Advent calendar actions.  

Check out the Illustrated Children's Ministry site for many more resources and look out for their packs for Lent which will be coming very soon!

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Advent Prayer Bags

This year I have seen a variety of lovely ideas online for helping children and families to get involved with the Advent season.  Drawing on some of the ideas I've seen, I've come up with a little bag of things to give out (along with prayer ideas for each item) which will take people through some of the main Advent themes.  Putting the bags together doesn't take all that long when you have everything you need and it's quite therapeutic to paint a whole load of Baby Jesus stones!

If you want to find out a bit more about the baby Jesus stones, click here.

For each bag you will need: A prayer sheet (click here to print), A felt or paper star, a felt or paper heart, a pipe cleaner, a baby Jesus stone, a tea light candle, an organza drawstring bag (I used purple bags to reflect the liturgical season.

First paint your baby Jesus stones. I used white and brown paint and a black paint marker (but a sharpie would probably work too). I also covered the finished painting with glossy mod podge. Varnish would work too, but this part isn't strictly necessary!

Next, fill your bags with one of each item and give them out!  Keep in touch with your families if you can and see how the bags are working out :-)

The contents of the prayer sheet are below:

Advent Prayer Bags 

Prepare for Christmas with some special Advent prayers.

The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.  Isaiah 9:2

What do you hope for?
Light the candle and ask God to bring His light and hope to people who are finding life hard.

Who do you love?
Hold the heart and say thank you to God for all the people you love and who love you.

What brings you joy?
Bend the pipe cleaner into a symbol for something that makes you happy. Ask God to help those who are sad to feel His joy.

The wise men followed the star to search for Jesus. Hold the star and pray for all those who are searching for peace in a troubled world.

Christmas Day
Make a special bed for your baby Jesus stone to lie in and light your candle again. Thank God for sending Jesus to be a light in the darkness and trouble of the world. Pray that you will be a light in the darkness too.